Eve’s Sisters, a book of essays published nearly three years ago, points out the application of certain psychological principles in the lives of women (men too) in the Bible. And although I haven’t done a super job of marketing the book, it’s not because I don’t believe in it but rather because I’m busy, distracted, on to other projects, and _________ (fill in the blank).
Preparation for the spring semester psychology courses that begin on Monday and a spirited writing group meeting last night are pushing me to share an excerpt or two from Eve’s Sisters. I didn’t have to look any farther than the first chapter to find one that’s perfect for anyone who blames everyone but herself for her woes, shortcomings, or disappointments. Who’s in charge of YOUR life?
From Eve’s Sisters:
- “It’s his fault,” she wailed. “If he’d been more appreciative, I wouldn’t have had an affair.”
- “She started it,” the child said defensively. “He pushed me first!”
- “If the teacher hadn’t made the test so hard, I wouldn’t have cheated. It’s her fault for forcing me to do it,” said the student caught surreptitiously looking up answers on Google.
- “If she hadn’t dressed so immodestly, then I wouldn’t have attacked her,” the young man insisted. “She was asking for it!”
The blame game even happens in my household. Our yearly state park pass mysteriously disappeared from the glove compartment of the car, and my husband blamed it on me. If only I had just put it back where it was supposed to be right after taking it off the mirror, then we’d have it. Actually, I DID put it where it belonged, and I did it right away. I think it must have been stuffed in with the information about Hunting Island State Park, brochures that I threw away after getting home. If he hadn’t been so insistent that I take the pass down right away, I might not have crammed it in with the other material.
Can you see a common thread? Just like Adam and Eve, we’re all blaming someone else for our transgressions! “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord said unto the woman , What is this that thou has done? And the woman saith, The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” (Genesis 3: 13)
The first couple went against God’s instructions and did as they pleased. And just like other humans, they were reluctant to “fess up” and say, “Yes, I did it, and I was wrong.” Instead they both passed the buck; Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent.
Aren’t we all a little like this? Almost daily I hear someone say, “If it weren’t for my children, spouse, parents, or friends, I’d have an education… or a better job. I might even move out of this one-horse town.” We all have choices. We can all be proactive and act of our own initiative. True, there are consequences to all of our choices, consequences that will affect not only us but others as well.
Choosing responsibly takes those consequences into account since the decisions we make today can cast a long shadow on the future, ours and those of the ones we love. Yet blaming another for our mistakes or hard lot in life shifts the responsibility of decision-making onto others rather than putting ourselves in the driver’s seat.
Psychologists differentiate between the terms internal and external locus of control. A person with an internal locus of control, something psychologists define as the extent to which an individual believes that she can control events that affect her, realizes that good or bad, right or wrong, she’s the master of her fate. She knows that events result primarily from her own behavior and actions.
On the other hand, those with an external locus of control are more likely to shift the blame for their failures and disappointments to external causes. Whether it’s the weather, her demanding children, or the teacher’s tricky test, this person never sees herself as being the cause of her woes. The problem with this type of thinking is that the individual is not accepting responsibility for her choices. As a friend half-joking said, “I know what to do to take care of myself. They just (husband and children) won’t let me!”
Who or what are you blaming for where you are right this moment? Are you accepting responsibility for your choices?