“We just paid FedEx $40,000! What is going on here?” These were my words when I saw this unheard-of shipping charge. “I blame it on the vendor”, my co-worker responded. And I totally agreed. “Yep, it’s all their fault”.
I’ve been thinking about this conversation for a couple of weeks now. It’s not really about whether I truly do blame someone else for the problem. In fact, that is not who I am. As a person, I generally look at something that didn’t go right and see it for what it is: something that didn’t go right. If I’m at fault, I’ll own up. But mostly I just start looking for a way to correct it.
What has stuck with me about this conversation is this notion that there is always blame or fault assigned to someone other than ourselves. Our society propagates it. Seriously. Do a Google search on “news stories about who is to blame”. I got 259 billion results.
It’s part of being human. We look for someone or something at fault. We need a place to put the blame, so that we can rationalize, justify or excuse the result that we have.
I’ve been guilty of it. Even though my core belief system is one of personal responsibility and problem-solving, I can still get caught up in the emotions around me upon occasion.
When I didn’t pass the CPA exam the first time, I was quick to put the blame all on myself. I didn’t study enough. I wasn’t smart enough. But I also slipped in that “they” designed the test in a way to make people fail. I allowed disappointment to color my thinking.
It’s even easier to do this with other people. I remember when my parents divorced, I was right there willing to put the blame all on my dad. My mom did. Her friends did. Even the church did. So, I joined in. I’m not proud of it. But I was a teenager and didn’t quite have the full view of life that I do now.
In more recent times, the conversation I mentioned above. You see my company was purchasing some expensive equipment from the West Coast. We needed it quickly. So, I got the financing figured out. It was a six-figure purchase, so I had to use two different lines of credit. We sent the instructions over so that the order could be placed that day. Well, some wires got crossed and the amounts assigned to each credit line were messed up. The purchase was declined by one of the credit companies. It took them until Wednesday of the next week to figure out what they had done. We needed the equipment by Friday for the job we were starting on Monday. And so, our shipment got delayed. And that led to the skyrocketed shipping costs. My co-worker was looking for someone to blame and I chimed right in.
When it comes to money, I see and hear the same patterns. We are always looking to blame someone or something else for the amount of money we have.
- Prices keep going up and my income doesn’t increase enough to keep up.
- My employer won’t pay me what I deserve.
- The economy sucks.
- We just aren’t the kind of people to have lots of money.
- The market crashed and my money disappeared.
You get the point. It’s what we do. We look for somewhere to point the finger. And in my opinion, this is one of the top reasons we don’t have the money we want.
When we are pointing to other people, things or situations to lay the blame for us not having more money, we are giving away our personal power. We are giving something or someone else the power over us and our money.
Sure, there are times in life when we feel like we are out of control. But when that happens, remind yourself that you still have control over a few things.
- Your Thoughts – You get to decide what you think. And yes, the subconscious drives some of our thought patterns, but you are still in charge. You 100% can open your awareness and see what your patterns and triggers are and you 100% can choose to give those unbidden thoughts credence…or not. Or as they say in meditation, you can observe the thoughts and let them float on by. You have the power to pick and choose which thoughts you are going to dwell on.
- Your Emotions – You get to decide how you feel. Let me tell you that I am the queen of emotion. I feel things deeply. And sometimes, I can get stuck in sadness or despair. But what I’ve learned over the years that feelings are like thoughts. I get to choose which feelings I’m going to dwell in. And I do have the ability to shift myself out of negative feelings into a more neutral place. Yes, it’s gradual. And no, it isn’t easy. But it’s possible.
- Your Actions – You get to decide how you are going to act or react to everything. You may not be able to control the economy all on your own, but you sure as heck get to decide how you are going to act about it. Are you going to spend or save? Are you going to talk negatively about it or look for the positive? Are you going to read one more article about how the economy sucks? Or are you going to look at all the good things around you? You have the control. You get to decide. You get to choose how to act, every moment of every day.
All of these things build on each other. Better thoughts lead to better emotions, better emotions lead to better actions.
What would happen in the world if we all started taking back our personal power? What would happen if we stopped pointing fingers and looking to where we can place the blame, fault and condemnation?
Growing up in the church, I remember the pastor used to say, “When you start pointing at someone else, look at your hand. Where are your three other fingers pointing?” I hated it when he said that. So corny! In my mind I was rolling my eyes. You can bet I never did it for real though. Ha!
His point was to remind us to look at ourselves first before we started to point the finger at others. Actually, to look at ourselves long and hard before we look outside to someone or something else.
I think this applies today. Whether it’s with our money or other things in life. The important thing to remember is that we are human beings. We have personal power. We have capacity for choice.
So, take a look at your money situation. What do you want to change? Where can you stop pointing the finger? How can you start taking back your personal power in that situation? Comment below, I’d love to hear what you come up with!
Sherry Parks, CPA, is a Money Mindset Coach who helps women escape feeling trapped by their finances. She is passionate about helping women change mindset, emotions and actions regarding money, so that they learn to keep what they have and generate more. Check out her 5 Steps to a Better Money Story workbook or join her women-only Facebook group Lives in Balance.
Image courtesy of Annie Spratt.