All of a sudden, the guy driving in the white Mustang behind me zooms in and -while I’m making a right turn- cuts right in front of me, slams on the brakes briefly, sticks out his arm and gives me the finger. He then drove like this (with his middle finger sticking up) long enough until my son Isaac, who was with me in the car, noticed it. “Mom, did that guy just give you the finger?” he asked. I said, “yes, he did,” trying not to laugh as not to give him any ideas. I was still thinking about the whole incident when I got to the red light and to my surprise, the bird-flipping guy was waiting at the traffic light, right there, next to us. The paradox of life, many times we think we are getting ahead, just to end up in the same place -like everyone else.
The middle finger, a simple hand gesture that get people outraged, even that picture of Elizabeth Hurley might get someone offended. We fear the mighty finger to the point that we have come to accept the finger next to it: the index finger.
We all have done it -the blame disease. Romney blames Obama for the economy and who knows what else. Obama blamed Bush and Bush blamed some people in the Middle East that were busy blaming U.S. I would like to be above all this but I’m not. For years I blamed my mom for choosing my horrid name, and then I blamed my husband and when he became my ex, I still blamed him. Friends, spicy foods, assorted people, all of them have had their share in my blaming game. I have even blamed random body parts of mine, (I love mini-skirts but I hate my legs so when I go with the pants, it’s my legs’ fault). The list is endless.
But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that all this blaming stuff wasn’t really working out for me. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth when I discovered myself sitting next to everyone else at that traffic light. I wasn’t accomplishing anything. My shortcut wasn’t really one. In fact many times I felt I was getting behind by wasting precious energy on situations that were beyond my control. Blaming others is just like flipping the bird, it gets you nowhere and puts you back where you left.
Where does this blaming come from? I wish I was different. I wish my name wasn’t Priscilla. I wish my legs were tanned. I wish I didn’t have an accent. I wish I always knew what to say. I wish here and there. I wish, I wish, I wish! When I’m done wishing I start wanting. I want this and that. I want a world perfectly customized to fulfill my needs. Once I’m done wanting I start blaming. And so life goes on with this back and forth, going around in circles.
You worst enemy is not some kind of monster hiding under your bed. Monsters don’t sleep under your bed, they sleep inside your head. Hold on, someone is at the door. Ego, is that you?Your visit doesn’t surprise me, Now I’m gonna ask you to leave You lies were your rhetoric Your love has crushed my bones There’s no need to apologize But it’s time for me to get wise It’s time for me to leave you behind, To take you to the Himalayas for you to find death I want to pretend we never met I want to leave you, erase you, delete you I want to unEgo
Leonard Mlodinow writes in his book, Subliminal, “…our ego fights fiercely to defend its honor” (p. 200).
Life is only a personalized perception of who we are, it’s like a giant puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces. We hold onto a few pieces dearly and believe them to make the whole picture. The problem begins when we find a discrepancy, when the pieces don’t match, and they will not match, the puzzle is incomplete! Then ego kicks in and the cycle of wishing/wanting/blaming begins again. We may recognize there’s a problem but we see it mostly in others.
How do I know when I’m giving my index finger a work out?
1.- I feel hopeless: We are masters of the Universe who find joy in victim-playing role. When the feelings of hopelessness arise and I do nothing to change my situation I know I have a problem. I have left it up to someone to make decisions about how I should feel. As result, I feel powerless and it becomes “your fault”.
2.- I become a mad scientist: In my desperation to match both perceptions I gather lots of evidence, find clues, fill loopholes, carry out tests, then come up with a theory that surprisingly enough supports my conclusion! It’s like writing a dissertation, only in this case I’m manipulating key elements to fit the world to me. I become a know-it-all. This pattern does nothing but to reinforce my distorted views of reality, myself and others.
3.- I get frustrated: “Nobody cares about _________________.” Well, if only I did. Again, placing emphasis on external elements that are not related to how I feel because how I feel is a complex perception of myself.
4.- I should have/could have: It all starts with the sentence: ”I should have ____________________ (known better, eaten less, said this or that, etc.). Then I come up with a strategy: Next time I will _________________________ (do a better job, etc.).
Think about how the words “should” and “next time” carry emotional violence towards yourself. Instead of trusting what’s happening I’m pointing the finger towards me. This usually happens after I’ve run out of people to blame, there’s still one standing up -me.
5.- I become the center of the Universe: The Earth stops revolving around the Sun. I’m not really sure how I do this but I do. Here’s the thing, every day people die, children go missing. Natural disasters and diseases plague the planet. As I’m writing this, a woman is being sexually assaulted somewhere. Yet, I manage to make Earth revolve around ME. My problems, my world, me, my, mine!
How do you know when you are about to embark in the it’s-all-your-fault journey?