It may seem redundant to have to say this on a blog about self-help, but you really DO need to accept responsibility for what you do (or don’t do) and the ways in which you respond and react.
This was brought home earlier today… and it perfectly illustrates the message I’m trying to convey.
What you need to know…
A few months ago, I was driving around and noticed a store, kinda in the middle of nowhere, and went inside. It was a hardware store and I don’t know what I was expecting to find… but… something must have led me there… because once I went inside, I saw all sorts of beautiful things! There were the usual culprits (hammer & nails, light bulbs, plumbing fixtures) but nearly half the store was gift items and plants.
In the front, there was a little “sunroom” with chimes and yard decorations, including a 5′ white, lighted, artificial tree. It was so pretty! But also, $139. Little pricey, I thought. I didn’t really have a place for it anyway. Bummer, all the way around.
Then this happened…
About two months ago, I was dusting my library when I noticed the most disgusting thing EVER! Read the next few paragraphs at your peril. LOL
The artificial tree I had next to my desk had been a hand-me-down from an office where I worked many years ago, where it had been a hand-me-down from the restaurant that had occupied the space before it. It had been shoved in a corner and I asked the owner if I could take it home and he said yes. I brought it home, hosed it down in the yard, and brought it inside. I went to the dollar store and bought a clay pot and iridescent shells and glass marbles to cover the bottom of the original pot, which had all but disintegrated. It looked beautiful and I enjoyed that tree for several years.
But that day, the dusting day, I noticed something sprouting up from the shells and marbles. Not just one spot, either. A bunch of spots! They were curly-edged mushroom-looking thingies. After I dry-heaved (because I find these kinds of things gross – don’t you?) I picked up the pot from the bottom, being careful not to spill anything, and the entire thing fell apart in my hands.
It was painstaking to crawl around the floor trying to get every piece of whatever those growths were, marbles, seashell shards, and something that looked like dirt (which was probably debris left behind after the fungus… uh… ate. Or something.)
I have left that spot blank for weeks, to let it air out and heal. Still cringing, thinking about it.
So, I’ve looked around for a NEW artificial ficus (since Hannah the bratty cat gnaws at anything real and frankly, some of the artificial plants, too). Evidently, that’s not in vogue right now, except in my mind.
Today, I remembered that store! I was determined to buy a new tree, even if it was that white one! Lucky me, it was in the window when I arrived! Yay!
I walked straight up to the counter from the front door. I asked if they had any more of those white trees, or possibly in brown, or a natural shade. The two women looked at each other. They didn’t think so, they said. I was told to ask Amanda, across the floor. I went to Amanda, who looked on her computer. “No, sorry,” she said. “We only have white.”
Okay, I told her, please see if you can find one in a box… and off she trotted.
As I carried it to the front counter, I was now facing the other direction, toward the front door. This is what I saw, tucked in a corner:
What about THAT ONE? I pointed.
“Oh yeah, we forgot about that!”
So, $40 less, three feet taller, and brown! EXACTLY what I wanted!
But NONE OF THEM had remembered it.
The one woman said this as I was buying the tree, new in the box. “I love it so much,” she said, “I have them turn on the lights whenever I’m here!” This is the woman I first asked when I walked in.
UGH! Things happen. I know that! But, seriously.
One more story…
I was training for a new job many years ago, and turned to my much-wiser co-worker who seemed to immediately understand everything that was going on around us. I DID NOT. He was a star. I was struggling horribly!
I asked him to help me with a problem I’d had a dozen times and couldn’t figure out, once again. I was too afraid to ask a supervisor (because I’d already asked a zillion times) and did as my co-worker said. After all, he and I had become fast friends… I liked and trusted him.
An hour later, a supervisor stood between us and said that what I’d done was wrong, and it was yet another mark on my already marred record.
My co-worker sat there working busily and never looked up. He said nothing in my defense.
When we were alone, he said, “I’m sorry I gave you the wrong info. Maybe I didn’t understand what you were asking. Next time, please ask a supervisor.”
Both of us are long gone from the company… and still friends on Facebook. I’m not mad at him.
BUT AT THE MOMENT? Yeah, I felt betrayed. I wanted to yell, “WHY DID YOU GIVE ME THE WRONG ANSWER?????? I TRUSTED YOU!!!!!!!!”
(I am so glad I didn’t say that at the time!)
What happened made me realize – and it has occurred time and time again, just like it did earlier today with the tree – IT’S UP TO ME!
There’s a reason there’s that old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
I should have walked around the store and LOOKED for the tree myself instead of rushing in, asking, and hurrying out.
I should have admitted to myself that I didn’t know what I was doing at that job and shared my concerns with my supervisor or left the company when it was clear I’d *never* get it.
Do you see what I mean?
I’m not saying you’ll always be right – but you will be able to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY – because you did it (whatever it is) yourself.
I could tell you dozens of stories about how I listened to someone else and found out they were wrong. This is a failing of mine – and one I’m working very hard on eradicating. It is how victims are born. Victims always blame others. I am not a victim. Taking responsibility is the surest way to stop that kind of thinking.