Once a particularly needy neighbor told me she wanted to buy a bike for her son. Then one day when I was searching for something on Craigslist, I saw the exact bike she wanted, so I called her. She then asked me if I would drive her to go get it, as she didn’t have a truck. I agreed and then hung up the phone feeling like she was taking advantage of me. The story I was telling myself was that, “She always wants more of me. I don’t have time for this,” and found myself blaming her for the hour or two I was going to “have” to spend doing her yet another favor.
Then it dawned on me.
I was the one who called her about the bike. I knew she didn’t have a truck. And the real kicker was that I also agreed to go. I could have told her I couldn’t and she would have found another way. Essentially, I was the one responsible for every part of what I had agreed to do and was also the one causing my own suffering by resisting my own actions and decisions.
I could have called and told her that I couldn’t help her after all, but that didn’t feel like the right thing to do since I had already agreed. All I truly needed to do to set myself free from suffering was accept my own decisions and stop blaming others for my choices. Once I did that, the pain was gone.
I liken this to the story I once heard about raccoon hunters. It is said that they will drill a hole in a log and put a shiny penny in it. When a raccoon sees the penny it reaches in the hole to grab it but then can’t get its hand back out because of the penny. Essentially, the raccoon’s grip is all that is trapping it, holding it captive until the hunter arrives. All the raccoon has to do is let go of the penny, but it is reported that they seldom do. In my observation, we do they same thing when we hold on to blame and resistance rather than taking responsibility for making our choices. We create our own suffering.
I invite you to notice if you do this, too. You’ll know because you will be doing something that you either chose to do or agreed to do, but then you are mad you are doing it. At which point, you may be blaming someone else.
Do you resist being married, even though you said “I do”?
Do you resist the agreement to be monogamous—or not to be?
Do you resist the decision to have children or to take care of your elderly parents?
Do you resist your choice to work where you do, the kind of work you do, or to work at all?
Do you decide to help someone, then complain about doing it?
Do you commute to work, but complain about the drive?
Do you decide to remodel your home, then get upset about the mess?
Do you offer to pay for someone’s meal and then feel used?
Did you get a pet and then resent having to take care of it?
Did you agree to move to a new town and then blame others for the decision to do so?
The remedy is to accept what you have decided to do—or do something different.
Often, all you have to do to set yourself free is let go of the shiny penny in order to be happy. That, or consciously make decisions in the first place that are more in alignment with your heart’s calling. Agree only to do what you are actually okay with doing.
Resistance will make you feel like a victim. Responsibility will reveal how powerful you are.
Resistance is futile.