There are three major blocks to happiness . . . and, no, I’m not talking about your not getting enough sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll!
These blocks are universal, and usually arise with the opportunity for real contentment comes around. You know that feeling you get when you do something really nice for someone you care about? Or the fleeting moment that occurs right after accomplishing something really big . . . ?
That feeling is contentment. The “three Amigos,” however, will block this feeling every time!
So who are they…?
The Three Amigos
These blocks have been together as long as mankind has existed on this planet. They arise out of our “lizard brain,” or limbic system, are provide a purely emotional response to stress and/or perceived threats to our survival or well-being.
The three blocks I speak of have always played a Win-Lose game . . . either they stay in place or you don’t survive! There seems to be no middle ground. Consequently, they often win . . . at the expense of our inner contentment and happiness.
I’m talking about the Three Amigos: blame, shame and justification.
This major block to happiness arises out of the need to be right, and is often linked to the third Amigo: justification. Why admit that bad results might have happened because you were involved? Was someone else there? Blame them! It’s simple, face-saving, and convenient.
But blaming others has consequences: it makes you look petty or silly, can often lead to strained relationships, and hides the real reason for the blame: your own fear of looking bad or wrong.
The biggest loss, however, is your inability to “close the loop” on something that stresses you out. By not addressing the truth and blaming others, you (or your coaching client) avoids dealing with the issue at hand. This, in turn, leads to lack of resolution and… continued unhappiness.
In 1962, President Kennedy had a good reason to blame his military advisors or ex-president Eisenhower for the Bay of Pigs disaster in Cuba. But he didn’t. He went on television and took full responsibility for the fiasco.
As a result, the public was able to see the truth, forgive him, and the whole thing was laid to rest. The largest benefit, however, was that Kennedy, as a result of this bold admission, was able to get back to the task of running the country.
President Harry S. Truman did the same thing. His decision to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima – right or wrong – was his alone. The sign on his desk – “The Buck Stops Here” – proclaimed loudly that he would never blame others for any decision he made.
True leadership comes from taking responsibility… and getting off the “blame train.”
Shame keeps you small. While blamers tends to shift the fault to someone else, shamers will accept blame for whatever goes wrong, but not the way a leader does. A shamed person will try to crawl into a psychological hole and stay there.
Blamers and shamers are often attracted to one another, creating a relationship based on dysfunction rather than happiness.
I remember the time I spent attending an Episcopal Day School many years ago (For those of you who may not know: Episcopalians act like Catholics, without the Pope).
I remember being exposed every day to the suffering of Christ in the Stations of the Cross, the sermons preaching unworthiness, and the constant criticism of anything I did that resulted in happiness for myself or others. Suffering was worshiped; happiness was shunned.
Fortunately I only attended that school for two years… but the shame remained with me throughout the rest of grade school and high school.
A comedian once said it best: “Justification is better than sex. You might be able to last all day without sex, but try going a whole day without justifying something!”
Your mind is a meaning-making machine. It will try to make sense out of anything it doesn’t immediately understand. Usually this boils down to simple phrases or solutions to complex problems.
John: “The economy is in the tanks.”
Jim: “Well, it must be because of . . . (pick your solution)!”
The need to justify everything leads to a very uncomfortable life. The phrase “The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master” comes into play here. If you let your mind run the show, you are bound to drive happiness right out the window.
The mind does not know true happiness. It only knows how to think, solve problems, and decide. Only the heart can feel true happiness in the form of deep contentment.
The mind can only make a decision. Once a decision is made, the mind is “happy,” but the heart usually feels left out.
An example: In TV’s Big Bang Theory, the character of Sheldon Cooper is constantly in denial of the needs of others while pursuing his own perceived version of mental happiness, i.e., perfect order. Since life is not orderly, the socially-challenged Sheldon is never really happy. He makes us laugh, however, because each of us have a “little Sheldon” running around inside… whether we like to admit it or not!
Is there a solution to overcoming the Three Amigos? Certainly, but it will take a willingness to a)become aware of them when they arise, b) a willingness to see them as they are, and c) a gentle acceptance of the move towards inner contentment. The Logical Soul® provides a way of doing all three.
If you are a Blamer, this means becoming aware of when you blame others, stop it, go back to the first time you felt this way, resolve the old situation, then and apologize when you see you did it.
If you are a Shamer, this means becoming aware of when you feel shame, go back to the first time you felt this way, resolve the old situation, then apologize to your Inner Child or whoever feels the sham, then let it go.
If you always Justify, this means becoming aware of when you justify things and events, stop it, go back to the first time you felt this way, resolve the old situation, then and allow yourself to go into that “not knowing space” where its OK for you to NOT have the answer to everything!
Got It? I hope so. Otherwise, I will have failed . . . and will have to blame you for not getting such a simple thing. I mean, really!