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You Make Me Unhappy

Excerpt from Chapter 8 - Thinking

This is the favorite accusation of millions. How convenient! I don't have to assume any responsibility for changing my unhappiness and I can blame you for all of it. An unpleasant fact I usually overlook is that change by you is most unlikely to happen upon my demand. Therefore, I am likely to be stuck forever with this unhappiness. "And it is all your fault that I am so stuck." Such is a common thought process of victims and of those who are blaming the white male patriarchy for all their problems.

It is only recently that major segments of the women's movement and the African-American movement have challenged the notion of perpetual victimhood. Many people are now choosing to take more responsibility for their own happiness and for their own lives, rather than remain stuck in the blame game.

There is a major difference, in my opinion, between the responses of children and adults. As children, many of us were squelched in any number of ways. Back then we really were made unhappy by what happened to us, (though perhaps we learned to cover it over and to put on a compliant, happy face). As children, we usually had no real choice but to comply. If we believe that to be true today about our adult responses, then we are still letting others control our happiness, still acting the part of the helpless child. We have given our personal power away to others, most often to our most disliked others: white males, racists, sexists, homophobes and fundamentalists.

The major question then arises. What about real victims, like you, me, and the victimized groups to which we belong? Our choice to see ourselves as victims happens to violate a number of religious and spiritual beliefs (like "God's will," the "inky finger of fate" and "karma"). If such spiritual beliefs are deeply held, is it possible for any of us ever to be victims? While such spiritual beliefs are the norm for the world as a whole, they still represent only a minority in the USA, albeit a fast-growing group which is nearing majority status. There is a choice to be made, believe in victimhood or believe in self-responsibility. The former guarantees unhappiness, whereas the latter permits a route out of unhappiness. Straddling these two beliefs is most common, believing in responsibility for some things but in victimhood in other instances. Unfortunately, straddling does not lead to happiness, though it seems to be politically correct for millions of us today.

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© 2008 by Thayer White
Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze


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