Pass the OAR, I'm sinking!
“Life happens.” That's something we hear regularly, one way or another, but I think people are losing perspective on what it really means. It means that no matter what your plans are, no matter what you do, sometimes things go a different way. You know what else? Sometimes, it's bad, frequently, it’s "not fair", and occasionally … it is your fault! That's right, sometimes you need to just accept your fault in the scenario and stop blaming others for your brown water, paddleless voyage. This is really important.
One of the biggest problems in our society today is the childish practice of not accepting responsibility for one’s actions. I like to call it ‘NAR’ – Not Accepting Responsibility. It also works this way – ‘Nar, it’s not my fault!’ NAR affects all facets of society. We see it in politics, business, parenting, social life, personal relationships, everywhere, and it is a cancer. However, for the purposes of this rant, and the health of my keyboard, I’m focusing on NAR’s impact on mental health.
And it’s pretty simple (in theory). Blaming others is an unbreakable rear tether, one's acceptance of responsibility, or OAR, a tool with which to paddle your dinghy across the moat of mental misguidance. Put another way, NAR makes you dependent on outsiders by moving resolution outside your circle of control. Whereas OAR allows you to maintain some control by keeping resolution within your circle. What this does is help you let go and move forward. And this, my friends, is a mental health life jacket.
In essence, it’s about controlling what you can (things within your circle) and acknowledging/accepting (not ignoring!) what you can’t (things outside your circle). Of course, none of this is new. Sayings to this effect have been around forever. The trouble is, they have a tendency to become just that – sayings. We need them to remain doings. In the process of mental healing there is a time for simply running over your problems in your mind, asking questions etc. But this is a stage in a process. If you don’t move on from here, if you don’t do, your stagnation will see you sink. When we sink we lose light. When we lose light …
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t call people out for their wrongs, and I’m certainly not saying you should accept responsibility for others’ actions. This is about reflecting on what you did, however minor, when things went bad, and attributing appropriate feelings. It’s then about accepting it, not endlessly bashing yourself up about it, and learning from it. It’s surprising how cathartic this can be whether your part is big or small. It’s a kind of wellbeing confessional.
So, do it people. When life happens, reach for your OAR, paddle your way to resolution, and get on with life.