Fault Lines

Most people have a terrible habit of making excuses.

Sometimes people rush to point the finger at someone else when a mistake happens, trying to foist the blame onto another party. That might be a bad habit, but it has two things going for it: one, sometimes it’s actually correct, and two, sometimes it’s actually helpful. If you’re pointing the finger accurately (i.e. at the person who actually made the mistake and should fix it), then your only real issue is tact and diplomacy. But at least you’re moving towards a solution.

That’s not, in my experience at least, what most people do. Most people don’t rush to blame others; maybe out of kindness, maybe just out of fear of the finger being pointed back at them. No, in my experience people are quick to blame the universe, or fate, or something like that. They say things like “it couldn’t have been helped,” or “no one could have seen that coming,” or “society is to blame,” or something like that.

I call those “fault lines.” Lines that try to hand-wave away fault… but also because they’re structurally dangerous places to build.

You see, you can’t build anything meaningful on that kind of sentiment, even if sometimes it’s true.

Sometimes things are going to happen that are genuinely not you fault – or even anyone’s fault. But saying that helps exactly no one get better. If a tornado hits your house, that’s not your fault – but if you stand around staring at the rubble of your home, unwilling to act because the mess wasn’t your fault, your life isn’t going to get any better.

It might not be your fault. But it is your responsibility.

Take yourself out of the victim mindset. You have varying degrees of control over the events of your life – but you almost never have no control. Remember when I said it wasn’t your fault that a tornado hit your house? Well… do you live in a high-tornado area? Is that public knowledge? You can’t control the weather, but you don’t have zero ability to make impact on the results. You could live somewhere else. And if your response is to start listing all the reasons why you can’t – the expense, proximity to your family, your work, whatever – then that’s still you making choices.

If a comet hits the Earth and we all die, that’s fate. If a tornado destroys your house, that’s maybe mostly fate, but some percentage poor planning. And if a tornado destroys your house a second time – well my friend, that’s on you.

That line of thinking will help you. Saying, “it’s not my fault a tornado hit my house” is a Fault Line. It’s structurally unsound. It won’t improve you life. It doesn’t matter if it’s your fault. It matters that your life could improve if you took certain steps, but you didn’t, because you cared more about blame than improving things.

Don’t accept that victim mindset. Don’t race to avoid blame or guilt – find a way to embrace accountability and responsibility. To do otherwise is to simply surrender to the universe and say you accept whatever cards fate deals out to you. I don’t. You shouldn’t, either.

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