When you fail or make mistakes, the active-minded response is to accept responsibility. It’s not society’s fault, it’s not the economy’s fault, it’s not my parents’ fault, it’s not my kids’ fault, it’s not my circumstance’s fault. It’s my fault. Wherever you end up in life as an adult, and all of your mistakes, are your own doing. A sincere individual does not point at other people, or circumstances, but looks in the mirror and says “I did this.” You mean it and understand it. The passive mind’s response to failure will be exaggerated rather than sincere and accurate.
Two typical extremes of the passive mind are
- “I’m great and nothing was my fault,” the inflated-ego syndrome; or the other extreme,
- “I’m a no-good failure, there’s no use trying,” the self-loathing syndrome.
Both are lazy cover-ups and copouts. It takes energy to change and improve. Passivity leads to do-nothing responses: “I’m great as I am, no change needed”; or, “I’m a total failure, no change possible, no use trying.”
In both extreme-passive cases, there is no hope for fixing what’s broken, because there’s no recognition of what’s broken. Even the “total-failure” case does not recognize what’s broken accurately. It merely hides a fixable flaw behind a perversely exaggerated cloud of grotesquely complacent self-loathing. Passive, immature, dishonest self-loathing or denial of blame obstructs healthy development and promotes infantile out-of-proportion responses to consequences.
The only way to fix the problem is to acknowledge responsibility, sincerely, to accept accountability, to respond with determination, to say “It was my fault and here is how I will improve from the experience.”
That’s when you grow up. The more you admit, the less fraudulent you feel. The less you say “I’m a total failure,” or “I’m great and nothing is my fault,” the stronger your natural self-esteem will grow. Identifying actual problems with yourself and treating them is hard but rewarding, because you accomplish something. You don’t have to announce your failures to the world, but you do have to announce them to yourself, and take action.
Growing more active-minded, you recognize and admit your failings in proportion, no more and no less. You see an error and you correct it. You no longer complain about consequences. You earned the consequences of your mistakes. But you also earn the respect of others and natural self-esteem when you work at it.
In my opinion, no one is perfect and everyone needs to be reminded of this principle of normal life, including myself.
From my book Call of the Active Mind
©copyright Robert Rose-Coutré 2016