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Category: General / Topics: Choices and Decision Making Circumstances, Life Events Discipline Financial Hopes & Dreams Lifestyle, General Personal Issues Planning

Who's to Blame?

by Ken Potts

Posted: October 6, 2019

Sorry, but sometimes the fault truly is our own…


"Drowning in credit card debt? Mortgage payments out of control? Monthly bills just too much to handle? It's not your fault!"

We hear a similar pitch later in the day: "Overweight? Just can't shed those extra pounds no matter how hard you try? It's not your fault!"

Bad news, folks. Lots of times it is our fault.

There are definitely circumstances in which our finances fall apart and it isn't our fault. Overwhelming medical expenses, a sudden corporate "downsizing," a death or divorce -- they all can push us over the edge no matter how good we are at managing money.

And there are certainly medical conditions that sentence us to weight gain; sometimes it is a genetic predisposition, or a medication we are taking, or a particular disease we are battling.

If we are honest with ourselves, though, for most of us most of the time, when things in our lives get out of control -- money, pounds, or whatever -- it is at least partly, if not mostly, our fault.

Unfortunately, we seem to have gotten uncomfortable with this idea. And we spend a lot of time and energy trying to find some reason, some excuse for whatever mess we've made. It is like we'd rather be victims of circumstances than assume any responsibility for the state of our own lives.

Again, there are some times when we are victimized, when we aren't responsible, when it isn't our fault. But it's not every time anything goes wrong. Sometimes we just mess up.

No, I'm not much into blaming for blame's sake. Nor do I think that shaming ever helped anybody. On the other hand, acknowledging we are guilty of making mistakes is often the first step toward correcting those mistakes, or at least not making them again.

Let's say our finances are out of control and at least some of the fault is our money management. How are we going to get back on track if we don't acknowledge that we had anything to do with creating the problem in the first place?

We can't change unless we admit to ourselves that there is a need for us to change. And if that means we are "guilty" of messing up, then so be it.

Everybody messes up at one time or the other. Nobody likes to admit it. And, certainly, none of us enjoy feeling guilty.

But guilty feelings can actually be a blessing if they point us toward what we can do to solve our problems and keep from creating new ones. We don't want to wallow in our guilt; we do want to ask ourselves what our guilt is telling us we might need to do differently.

Finally, I also don't think we can really forgive ourselves until we accept our role in the problems we've created. And such self-forgiveness is a key ingredient in empowering us to address the problems in our lives.

Accept that it is sometimes our fault. Forgive ourselves. Change what we can change and move on. Makes for a better life, though probably not a better commercial.

Dr. Ken Potts is on the staff of SamaraCare Counseling Center in Naperville and Downers Grove, Illinois.

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Posted: October 6, 2019

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