What a year it has been! As we look forward to hopefully better days in 2021, I’ve been reflecting on my 2020. In what was an unprecedented year, the challenges were immense. But as I look back, three principles, which I will combine and call the Golden Trifecta, have helped immensely:
Don’t accuse others
Blaming is worthless. It implies that we are stuck in the past. If I have learnt anything about human relationships, it is that blaming invites defensiveness and we end up stuck in the ‘who is right game’. Sure, we can bring to attention what the other person concretely said/did that affected us, but passing moralistic judgments is very much likely to diminish the other person’s capacity to empathize with us as well as keeping us in constant torment just thinking about their shortcomings.
Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is easy to say others caused us to feel and act a certain way, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are not taking into account a crucial choice we have: to make our own interpretations. What others say/do can be the stimulus, but eventually how we feel has to do with our underlying needs and values at any given moment
Don’t victimize yourself
When we start taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, we might end up feeling like a victim. Thoughts of ‘I’m not good enough’ and ‘It’s all my fault’ are easy to have. What has helped me is to focus on what I can control in any given situation rather than getting caught up in things I have no control over. For example, if I made a mistake and so if I resort to #1 not blaming others and #2 taking responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions, what I can do is- focus on what I can do now as opposed to getting caught up in the past (something I cannot do anything about). If I’m feeling shame or guilt for what I did, I can now take actions to ensure that I don’t repeat the same mistake again. That way, I position myself to learn from my mistakes without losing self-respect.
I’ve found the Golden Trifecta to be incredibly powerful to live a peaceful and light existence. If something isn’t to my liking, I’m likely to focus on what I can control- maybe talk to the person whose actions are affecting me. But instead of blaming them, I’m likely to point out specific behaviors they exhibited that diminished my well-being, and communicate in a way where I take responsibility for how I felt rather than what is wrong with them. I’ve come to realize that this approach contributes to a heart at peace as opposed to living with a heart that is at constant war with oneself and others.
“When you travel lightly, you’re freer, less burdened, less tired.
The same applies to life- not just travel.”
– Leo Babauta