Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Right Question

I am still pondering the posting and all of the comments from when I wrote, "Do You Ever Blame Yourself?" After seeing what another blogger wrote on her blog and making a comment there I want to write more on the subject of blaming yourself.

This is a trap easily fell into by parents, or let me just say it is an easy trap for me at times. The shoulda's, woulda's and coulda's get replayed like highlights on SportsCenter. This can drive you crazy at times.

When playing the woulda, coulda and shoulda game it is easy because most of the time it goes something like this. I shoulda done this instead, he woulda done that and everything coulda been OK. So, what is the flaw in that thinking? It counts on someone else doing a specific thing in a response to my action. So much of that thinking depends on someone else in which you really have no control. No wonder it is easy to play that game, the real fault of action gets to fall on someone else.

Instead of woulda, coulda, and shoulda what is the right question?

What have I learned?

That question makes it so much harder because all of a sudden it is on me completely. I am responsible for my own actions only and I am responsible for my own learning.

Mistakes of intention will happen for all of us. But as we learn the honest lessons from our actions we will become better parents and healthier inside. To learn the lesson I must remember to not to play woulda, coulda, shoulda games and always ask myself the right question.


GG said...

I go through the coulda, woulda, shouldas regularly and then end up with Didn't or Won't, so accept the consequences and start from where I am Now. It's not easy but then, no one ever said it would be. It's a lot more comfortable than staying stuck in the Coulda, woulda shouldas, though. I think you got it right with "learning honest lessons from our actions and becoming healthier inside". I'm grateful for the health and grateful for your example and for sharing.

Jan said...

There is no one to blame. Even at times, the addict is blameless, because once he is addicted, s/he no longer has control over it. The drug controls him/her. Do I blame Stevie for picking it up to begin with? Oh, absolutely. Do I blame him, his circumstances were ripe for an addiction ( low self esteem, procrastinator, low ambition, self sabotaging behaviors)? I do not know. I offered counseling. He refused. He hid most of his difficult feelings behind jokes, sarcasm and rebellious behavior. Ultimately, I still blame Heroin. Thanks for your insight! I appreciate it!

Syd said...

For me the right question is "What is my motive?" If I can answer that honestly, then I know that either I am doing what is good for me, or I am running the show based on my character defects with self-will run riot.

Heather's Mom said...

Sometimes I have to fall off the bike a couple (dozen) times to get the lesson!
Good question, just today as my sponsor and I went over my 4th step work, when I talked about "my mistakes" (ALL, not just in relation to my daughter) she said instead of looking at them as "bad" think, #1 that makes me human and #2 What did I learn???
Interesting you should post this the same day.
Thoughtful post. Thanks :)

LisaC said...

I agree with Syd in terms of always checking my motives; and I agree with you..."What have I learned" is much more helpful in the long run that "Is it my fault?" However, I still fall into that trap and I realize it is an ongoing lesson to learn...asking and answering the right questions. Thank you for your always thoughtful posts.

Linn B said...

Over twenty years ago and after 3 or 4 treatment centers I kicked my oldest son out. I have only seen him 2 or 3 times. He stopped calling me years ago when I told him no more money. I miss him terribly everyday. I do not know if he is even alive. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier if he were dead. Coulda, woulda, shoulda were my constant companions. I sometimes would wonder if I quit before the miracle happened. In all my meetings, in both fellowships, I have never heard anyone give thanks to their Higher Power, whom they choose to call "Mom & Dad". I know it is out of my hands but every once in awhile I wonder, "If only I (fill in the blank)". Those are the days I help a friend, go to a meeting or call my sponsor. Sometimes all three! It has gotten easier but the pain is still deep.

cate503 said...

I have played those games for a long time and work very hard to let it go. It's in the past and nothing can change it now. The only thing that can change is to forgive yourself. My daughter was addicted to crystal meth and is luckily doing well now. Was I too lenient, was it the divorce, should I not have worked, why didn't I see it and act on it when she was in high school, etc., etc.??? It never ends. Al Anon has helped me, more now that I thought initially. Also, just started a blog website,, or email if you have someone or a resource that is particularly helpful. Trying to do it ad free and easy to navigate. Best of luck. It can happen. He can find his way and hopefully he will.