I spent 30+ years angry. I didn't start out this way. Who does? Have you ever met an angry baby? I know they cry and they express anger, but do they stay there? They get it out and move on. They don't take it on. They don't stew in it. They don't hold a grudge and not talk to you for days. They cry. They get their point across. They get their need met and they move on to the next need. They are very simple. We aren't. We get frustrated. We get overwhelmed. We get tired. We react and they watch.
Our kids watch us like hawks. They soak up our every move. When you have a fight with your spouse, they are watching. Was their yelling? Were they mean to each other? Did someone cry? Did it ruin the night? Did they blame each other. Did they apologize? Babies, who become adults, who become us, absorb it all. They are like sponges, who one day start squeezing out all the things they absorbed.
I am not blaming our parents. We do too much of that. We are all people, fighting different battles, who have children and do our best with what we've been given. We are here to learn and grow and we are given the parents we had for a reason. It's not their fault. It's not your fault. There is no one to blame.
That's my point. Anger starts with blame. It all starts when someone does something I feel is wrong and I blame them for my unhappiness. I don't know when I started this pattern. I do know it ramped up as a teenager. That's when I lost sight of who I was. That's when I decided I was a victim of circumstance and people. I wasn't in charge of my life. My happiness solely depended on those around me.
I could give you story after story of how my life was managed by the hands of another. I could blame my mom for being too strict. I could blame my ex-husband for not hearing me. I could blame God for not changing things or answering my prayers the way I thought he should. And, then there's me. I could blame me for all my bad choices. I could blame me for never being good enough.
I could do all of that and I could get your sympathy and you could tell me I have every right to be angry. I have every right to blame and stew. That wasn't fair. You were wronged. You were treated badly. They should apologize. I could make you see all these characters in my story through a bad lens. I could make them the villains. I could make myself be the hero. Isn't that what all the movies we love are based on? A hero's story? A bad guy who needs to be defeated and out comes the hero who saves the day and overcomes?
I could, but I choose not to. Those villains are my greatest teachers. Yes, they hurt me, but I did my fair share of packing some punches in there also. I hurt them. We hurt each other and I can choose to stay in that place of hurt. I can choose to hold onto that anger and that blame. I can choose to stew in bitterness and resentment, like I did for all those years, or I can choose to find the lessons, look inward, be grateful and let it go.
We weren't meant to stay in the past. We can't fix any of it. If we stay there, in our minds, we trap ourselves. We keep ourselves small. We make ourselves a lifelong victim. It's our choice. It's our life. We can choose to drive our car and hold our keys, or we can choose to give the keys to someone else. If so, when they crash it into a tree, it was their fault, not ours.
What if we just stopped blaming? What if we just saw everything as an opportunity for growth? What if we took charge of our lives and we drove our own car?
People are going to hit your car. People are going to scratch it in a parking lot, unless you never trust or park near anyone to risk it. People are going to run stop signs and hit you. People are going to ding that car up. Or, you might be the one who inadvertently dings it. You might be the one who side swipes it, or scratches it. It's going to happen. It's the price you pay to have a car. The newness wears off. Life happens. Scratches and dents happen and one day, that car is so dinged up and so tired and worn that you trade it in and you get a new one. You let the past go and you start the journey in a new car, an upgraded model.
Or, if you'd prefer, you could just sit in the garage and observe every ding. You could lament over every scratch. You could blame all the wear and tear and damages on someone else. You could stew in your own mistakes and blame yourself also, but just sitting there, lamenting, blaming and stewing, won't fix the car. It's still going to look the same the next morning.
It's your choice. Who's driving your car? Is someone else at the wheel? Is there someone you are blaming? Or, are you at the wheel, blaming yourself? If so, how's it working for you? Is the blame healing those wounds? Is the blame removing those dings? Maybe it's time to let the past be exactly that - the past. Take your keys back. Get in the driver's seat. Drive your car, no matter how many dings or scratches it may have. They just tell a story. It's your choice what you do with that story.
Angela Miller is a Professional Life Coach passionately pursuing her purpose to help others remember who they are and how to become their best self. For more information, visit www.soaringforward.com.