Finger Pointing

March 23rd, 2009

finger-pointing1There was a man I once knew who gave me a very good piece of advice.  He told me that we have to be careful when pointing the finger at others because there are three fingers pointing right back at ourselves.  He made a great point.  We need to evaluate what we are doing before we go trying to get other people to evaluate themselves.  It’s criticism.  When we point the finger at other people we are actually criticizing them.  We don’t generally like it ourselves, but we seem so willing to help others out realizing their shortcomings. OR!  we just point the finger at their backs while talking at the same time to others, filling them in on all the sordid details of the persons flaws and failures.  But what happens when someone points the finger at themselves, unjustly?  I recently ran into just that situation.

It was a Friday afternoon and I was nearly done my week when I entered one of my last accounts and greeted the staff.  I always look forward to seeing them as they are great people and always encouraging.  I do my best to respond in kind and as my contact and I began working together, I asked how her week had been.  She laughed nervously as she described the death of a friend.  I knew that she had some tragedies in the past and it shocked me to hear of another death of a close friend of hers.  I relayed my disbelief and sadness for her and she told the tale.

She told of her former friend who had a heart condition and died one night presumably in his sleep.  She blamed herself for that because he had been complaining of chest pains but wouldn’t go to the doctor.  She felt she should have made him go.  He was tired of it though.  He had called her that evening and asked her to hang out but on this one night, she had said no.  She was tired.  He died that night.  She blames herself.

Then, another friend died in a car accident. He was very young and the tragedy is abundantly obvious.  The third tragedy was a friend who committed suicide just the week before.  I could see the deep despair in her eyes even though she was laughing about it all.  She was crushed by the events.  She then said something that yanked me out of that tragedy into a whole ‘nother reality.  “Stay away from me.  I’m the problem.  Everybody around me is dying and I’m the common denominator.  My friend would be alive if I had hung out with him, and that was the start.  Now my friend kills himself.  No wonder I’m on happy pills.”

We talked for a while and I told her that she was not the problem.  She wasn’t responsible for the deaths of her friends.  There was no curse on her.  She didn’t have some kind of evil spell cast upon her that caused the people in her life to die.  There was no inverse Midas Touch going on with her.  But she didn’t believe me.

I thought about how many people are hurting because they feel like they are the cause of all the tragedy in their lives.  Are you one of them?  Do you feel somehow responsible for tragedies in your life?  Maybe you are.  It could be true.  But it might not be true too.  I’m talking about an unreasonable assumption of responsibility.  Some people don’t take any responsibility and completely detach themselves from situations.  Others become so wrapped up in situations that they can no longer function and the drama of it all makes them take on this unhealthy assumption of responsibility that only has tragic results emotionally and even physically.

finger-pointingI’m trying to let you know that a healthy assessment of responsibility is important for all of us.  Do take a look at the tragedy in your life.  But don’t skew the facts into somehow taking responsibility when it doesn’t apply.  We have enough things in our lives that we are responsible for without taking on the things that we aren’t responsible for.  Point that finger when you must.  My friend pointed the finger at herself.  But it wasn’t reality for her to take the blame.  Don’t you make the same mistake.  Accept responsibility for what you must but don’t take on the issues and problems that aren’t yours.  God Bless.

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