Owning my problems
Thursday, October 07, 2010
The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.
- Albert Ellis
I received the quote in one of my spark mails quite a while ago. I saved it because I knew at some point I wanted to write a blog post about it. The quote resonated with me. I think for me it truly points to a core belief of mine. Normally I don’t discuss religion, but the way my thought process works is tied up with my spiritual beliefs. I am a Buddhist, but I also have acquired beliefs from other faiths. I approach spirituality from the standpoint that if an idea or concept “feels” right I will follow it. If it doesn’t I won’t. All of this leads up to one of my favorite mantras – I can only control things from my skin in.
I use this when people in my environment are doing things that make me crazy, and I cannot make them stop. I use it when my beloved is making a choice I would not make. I use it when my friends tell me all their problems, and I ask them what they are going to do to fix it and they refuse to change. I use it to remind me that as difficult as it is to see someone struggling, all I can offer is support. My responsibility ends where my skin ends. Don’t get me wrong, if I do something that causes harm to another, I am responsible. I just use it to remind me that I cannot control others, even if I think I have all of the answers.
I’m sure that others have looked at me and the choices I have made, and wanted to force me to choose another path. They probably felt as if they knew what was best for me. It is easy to be the person sitting away from the situation and dissect the situation and find a solution.
In the same vein the quote above helps remind me that I am the source and solution of my problems. No one else can fix them. Even if ultimately I have to use a resource outside of myself, I have to own the problem, determine a solution, and act to implement the change. If I spend all of my time blaming others I miss a chance to examine my own flaws. I destroy my own self worth by giving it up in favor of saying there is nothing I can do about it. Conversely when I own my problems, weaknesses, and flaws I then accept the fact that I have power to change the things that I want to. I get to examine, poke, prod, and develop my strengths and myself.
I have been fighting with a particular weakness of mine for the last few months. I am a food addict. Addiction runs in my family, though for most it is drugs or alcohol. I dabbled in alcohol when I was younger, but ultimately I made a choice to minimize my exposure. Fighting a food addition is a bit harder. You cannot abstain from eating and live long. You can minimize, but once again not for long. So for me acknowledging and admitting that I have addictive behaviors when it comes to food was me owning my problem. When I am emotional it becomes easier for me to binge on my addition. I eat. I choose things that are not healthy. If I did it in moderation it would be fine, I instead binge. I have fried foods, high fat foods, quadruple portions, or bottomless baskets of high fat food.
When I am binging I forget some of the hard earned lessons I have in my past. I forget to take my emotional temperature, to stop and make conscious choices, to own my problems. I need to focus on solving my problems, not burying them under an avalanche of fried and baked foods. I am reminding myself of all of the lessons I fought so hard to master. I am allowed to have emotions that don’t mesh with those in my life. I can feel sad while someone is happy, I can be content while someone is depressed, I can be me and let them be themselves. Not everything in life is going to match up, sometimes they just don’t fit, and when they don’t fit it’s ok.
So as I move forward I have reset myself on the path I have traveled before. I take the first step by owning my problem, and knowing that I don’t want to blame anyone. There is no fault, there is just me.