Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
June 01, 2011

The Blame Game

By Mark Sisson
193 Comments

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

Albert Ellis, psychologist

This week a friend of mine lost her mother. A year and a half ago she’d been diagnosed with bone cancer. Despite numerous surgeries and treatments, the cancer continued to spread widely and was found in her brain two months ago. After accepting hospice a week ago, she died at home with her family. She was 57. By all accounts my friend’s mother was an active, youthful, gentle woman. “She lived quietly, with meaning and purpose, and loved deeply,” a close relative shared at the funeral. Her death got me thinking, as these events will, about the relative shortness of life – even for those who live to a ripe old age far beyond this woman’s years. How will any of us feel about how we’ve lived our lives when our own time comes? Have we taken ownership of every moment and accepted our choices – compromises, triumphs, screw-ups, and all? Will we feel like we’ve lived life on our own terms? Or, more tragically, will we realize we’ve wasted precious time always blaming others, blaming circumstances while we put off creating the healthy and fulfilling life we’d always wanted?

We all know people who have relegated themselves to living some half-developed life, meanwhile nursing a long-past resentment or irrational choice that continually holds them back. As a health coach and trainer, I see it all the time. Maybe they blame their upbringing – the habits they feel are too ingrained or what they see as the insurmountable challenge of getting beyond obesity and/or health conditions they’ve accepted over the years. Some people feel they’re too far gone to get up again.

Others blame their uncooperative spouses or their kids and the chaos of family life. Still other people tell themselves progress just isn’t possible given their financial situation, work schedule, or aggregate life demands. They’re already juggling too much and can’t give up any part of the routine. They can’t find it in themselves to simplify their act, so to speak, or just renounce it entirely to search for a better way. In other words, some folks can’t find their way out of the box because they refuse to visualize anything but the enclosure around them.

Maybe it’s unconscious irrationality, as Albert Ellis suggested most of us possess in some regard, or maybe it’s a more intentional, embittered blame. Either way, it’s passing the buck. It’s giving up on your own life, health, and chance at happiness. How is this gratifying?

Blame admittedly allows us to languish in the presumed comfort of bad habits. It allows us to wallow in laziness, to accept inertia for the sake of ongoing bitterness. Yet, blame always betrays us in the end. Behind the resignation is painful longing, the essential, enduring instinct to live fully. Whatever excuses we tell ourselves day after day, the sense of loss – of being locked out of our own lives – is still there. It’s a grief that leaves us hollowed out and estranged from life in general.

Occasionally, there are legitimate circumstances that can intuitively call us to slow down, to turn inward, to stop on the side of the road for a time. We lose a spouse or a parent or a child. We face a severe illness or injury that imposes extensive and sometimes grueling treatments. These events can leave us physically detached and emotionally disoriented. It’s a natural, albeit individual, response. When we’ve allowed ourselves the time and space to get our bearings again, we’re likely faced with an equally difficult task – reinventing our lives and well-being in a new and challenging context. Some things in life we can change and some we can’t, but with time we can forge a way again.

In finally giving up the blame game, I think we make peace with the complexity and difficulty of life. We shake off the last of our excuses and let go of the martyr role. The fact is, every one of us works around day-to-day chaos and frustration. We will all face desperation and grief of some sort in our lifetime. No one here promised anything different. It’s the rest of life – the chance to live fully and gratifyingly in our bodies, in our relationships, in our vocations (whether it’s what we get paid for or not), in our explorations within this lifetime – that we get to grab hold of and find joy in – for everything it’s worth.

Life isn’t always fair (my friend’s mother being one example of this). We don’t get to chose every circumstance. We don’t get to control the people around us. Likewise, we don’t get all the time in the world to wait for the ideal circumstances to come around.

Life, as we will eventually come to understand (hopefully before it’s too late), will never be perfect. It will never be easy. There will always be obstacles, annoyances, and limitations to contend with on the path to health and well-being. Regardless of what our lives look like next to someone else’s, ours is still the one we go home with at the end of the day. Ours is the one we get to live – for all its possibility as well as challenge. What will you make of it today?

What do you see behind the blame game and the shift to mastering your health and life? Let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by, folks.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

193 Comments on "The Blame Game"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
The Primalist
5 years 3 months ago
I don’t regularly watch Oprah, but I did watch her last episode.. she said something along these same lines, which I think resonated with a lot of people: “Nobody but you is responsible for your life. It doesn’t matter what your mama did; it doesn’t matter what your daddy didn’t do. You are responsible for your life. … You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself, and you’re responsible for the energy that you bring to others.” She said she has a sign in her make-up room to remind her of this, I think it’s pretty thought-provoking:… Read more »
bobbie
bobbie
5 years 3 months ago

…more of this television entertainment wisdom, and I am going to… BLEEURGHHH! all over the screen

“please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space”

(please feel a big, heavy blanket of guilt decend upon you if you just happen to be in a bad mood today – Oprah says so)

what a narcissistic cow Oprah Winfrey is

makes me feel quite happy I am half a globe away from her! 😀

hah! now I managed to take responsibility for my own life, and flip it all around..
😀

Chase
Chase
5 years 3 months ago

Jealous much? What impact have you made on the world, Ms. Negativity? I’m glad you live a half globe away from ME.

Dana
Dana
5 years 3 months ago
Oprah is a TELEVISION ENTERTAINER. Yes, later on in her career she was able to make huge charitable contributions to the world–because she sat on TV and talked for over a decade. A lot of that success is who you know. People do not just decide to get on TV and then go on TV. They have connections. It’s the same with a lot of the material success that certain people enjoy today. They had an in, someone to talk to, someone who knew people. Maybe bobbie is doing quite a lot in her own little part of the world.… Read more »
Jason
Jason
5 years 3 months ago
Wow….you missed the whole point. The article that Mark wrote and then the reply about Oprah is not about the reason Oprah succeeded. If you look at Oprah and see where she came from in life she is a huge inspiration to people. Born dirt poor and growing up the way she did; do you actually think she had all those connections at her finger tips. She worked hard, never gave up, kept striving to do better and not lettting life keep her down. That is what all this is about. Finding the good in things and not letting life… Read more »
Kristen
Kristen
5 years 3 months ago

I’m not big on slamming people, but I don’t think people (Oprah) should be defended if they are making a NEGATIVE impact on the world. Did you know she endorses a cosmetic product that uses skin cells grown from circumcised foreskin of newborns subjected to this permanent & painful money-making procedure? Come on, now. Does such a vain woman seeking the fountain of youth at the cost of cutting newborn boys worth your defense?

Barry
Barry
5 years 3 months ago

Wow, it’s amazing to me that someone can read what Mark just wrote and not even realize how negative they are. I don’t think anyone is capable of judging another person, let alone a complete stranger labeling another person as a narcissistic cow. Do you even understand how your own negative thoughts are shaping the view you have of the world around you? Did anything Mark just wrote sink in? Or is this just for everyone else? I hope one day you will awaken to the nightmare you are creating.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 3 months ago

I blame Oprah for everything.
Who’s with me?

Brenda
Brenda
5 years 3 months ago

I heartily agree.

Steph
Steph
5 years 3 months ago
Thank you Jason and Barry! Apparently several have completely missed the whole point of this exercise. Here are two of my favorite bible versus…. Luke 6:42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Romans 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the… Read more »
Sal7
Sal7
5 years 3 months ago

To Kristen : When I was I newborn I was circumsised. Glad of it (ok, maybe not then). I didn’t and don’t give a damn what anyone did with the foreskin after it was removed from me. There are many medical reasons why circumsision is a good thing-do the research. In any case my foreskin was biological waste and if it can be used for even somthing as “vain” as cosmetic production who cares?

tess
tess
5 years 3 months ago

whereas i tend to agree with you about people like Oprah, i am offended that you feel free to pour your scorn on someone you don’t know, from the distance of “half a globe”. if the concept The Primalist expressed means something to her/him, what gives you the right to ridicule it?

Chase
Chase
5 years 3 months ago

LOL@ Dana….just keep thinking that. So many people have wealth envy, it’s pathetic. Especially when the extraordinarily wealthy person is of the “wrong” gender or “wrong” race. You’ve proven how dumb you are by saying Oprah hasn’t done a damn thing. How many houses have you built for people? How many people have you personally put through college? Just as I thought. NONE.

Brittany
Brittany
5 years 3 months ago

Wow, and what part of your butt did you pull that information from, Kristen?

Barb W
Barb W
5 years 3 months ago

Damn lurker–you aren’t even a member so GO AWAY and take your poison with you.

Primal Toad
5 years 3 months ago
Wow, really? I may make a sign myself and put it right above my standup workstation. I think its incredibly inspirational. We should all take responsibility for our own life. I have more recently and have seen incredible results. I am not going to say I am happy I am a half globe away from you. I don’t care who the hell you are or what the hell you have done. I will aways give someone a chance to flip the switch from “off” to “on.” As I become more “popular” in the primal community I get some rediculous comments… Read more »
Andrea L
Andrea L
5 years 3 months ago

I love you statement and 100% agree with you.

Andrea L
Andrea L
5 years 3 months ago

umm… make that I love your statement. You wouldn’t believe the embarrassment I felt as I hit submit comment and realized what I had written.

bbuddha
bbuddha
5 years 3 months ago

Wow, that is quite a bit of wisdom from someone so young. and you are so right.

Steph
Steph
5 years 3 months ago

Thank you! That was the whole point 🙂 We don’t choose where we come from, we choose where we go!

Erin
Erin
5 years 3 months ago
I really enjoyed what you had to say and appreciate your words… this story that Mark posted was very heart-felt and meant as a means for all to take another look at what is going on in our lives and weather or not we are going to do anything to change it. Since joining the primal community 4 months ago I am in the best shape I have been in in a long time and have been so grateful to all that Mark and everyone who suggested I try this have done for me… It has really made me see… Read more »
piano-doctor-lady
piano-doctor-lady
5 years 3 months ago

<>

I don’t think this makes her narcissistic at all, nor do I think it is intended to lower a blanket of guilt over anyone.

I think that this saying implies an understanding of the difference between our feelings and our actions. We can feel crummy, but that doesn’t mean we need to take it out on others around us. We are responsible for our actions, not for feeling super-great all the time.

It’s an adult decision.

Sandy
Sandy
5 years 3 months ago

Wow…you’re pathetic…

Sandy
Sandy
5 years 3 months ago

I was referring to bobbie’s comment

Chris
Chris
5 years 3 months ago

Exactly. This holier then thou attitude beaming from the stupid box.

Before people start having a go research who owns the six corporations that own 96% of the worlds media. You’ll find it’s the same people who own big pharma and Monsanto and the same people who own the Federal Reserve.

Oprah is a prostitute of the highest order given a platform not for our benefit.

ImOil
ImOil
5 years 3 months ago

Right on.

Madame Flintstone
Madame Flintstone
4 years 3 months ago

Hear hear.

Harry
5 years 3 months ago

It’s sad that the first (good) response to this post triggered vicious blaming.

Elenor
Elenor
5 years 3 months ago
“(please feel a big, heavy blanket of guilt decend upon you if you just happen to be in a bad mood today – Oprah says so)” Don’t care whether you like Oprah or not (not, myself); taking responsibility for the energy you bring into ANY space is a legitimate request (and a good choice). If you just ‘happen to be in a bad mood today” — it’s STILL your responsibility to the people around you (and/or to yourself!) to keep it to yourself. “Kicking the dog” because you feel bad is just plain inappropriate. ‘Kicking’ the people around you because… Read more »
peggy
peggy
5 years 3 months ago

I was “forced” to play field hockey my senior yr of high school. In the past I was one of those that was always last chosen for any type of team (as was my sister) also, we had just moved so we were the new kids. Turned out that me & my sister could play a pretty decent field hockey & it wasn’t long before we were the 1st 2 picked for teams 🙂
Hey, they made a song about it: “Life’s what you make it”

Terri
Terri
5 years 3 months ago

more like ironic….

Terri
Terri
5 years 3 months ago

not only ironic, but quite validating in support of Mark’s article. Interesting to observe…

knifegill
knifegill
5 years 3 months ago
First, when life gives you lemonade, you make a bottle of lemon brandy, my good man. J/K. I don’t drink. Anymore. Second, Oprah is only a good thing if you are a woman who oppresses men. And thank god your icon will spew less filth now. Maybe we can get back to equality. The energy I strobe is an energy of hope, aggressive hope. There’s no time to sit and mope. The sun will stop shining this evening and you will look yourself in the eye. You’d better like what you see. Don’t be afraid to have a bad day,… Read more »
Chelle
Chelle
5 years 3 months ago

Just wanted to offer a point of clarification on “Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.”

The

Joe
Joe
5 years 3 months ago
I practice Buddhism and have for 7 years. I also caught Oprah’s last show and though she’s a Christian, what she said aligns itself with Buddhism in that the source of happiness lies within. But also the part about taking responsibility for our lives or our karma, is very profound. We believe very strongly in not seeking happiness or anything else outside of ourselves, but it’s very hard to live this way or to separate our true selves from our ego, which is the source of all of our fundamental darkness or negativity. But the heart is what’s most important… Read more »
Erin
5 years 3 months ago
I have a hard time explaining to most people that while going to a primal like diet and fitness regime helped all my numerous medical conditions (fibromyalgia, fatigue, food intolerances, etc), getting my head going in the same direction was probably the harder task in the equation. I wallowed in my miserable state of being for years, and not surprisingly I continued to stay in that state no matter what I did physically. Duh. I truly wanted to be healthy, but I was not practicing any mental habits that matched that state of being. I think in the back of… Read more »
Susan Morgan
Susan Morgan
5 years 3 months ago

Great response, Erin. I’m with you. This way of eating seems to solve many of the pesky physical problems, but the mental habits remain. I think I’ll make a similar declaration today. Thanks! I am the same age as the mom who died in Mark’s post, so that’s added inspiration! It’s habit, really, and an inability to see a different way of being. Visualizing the world outside that box, commencing now…

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 3 months ago

“…I was done being the victim…”

You got that right in so many ways!

andy
andy
5 years 3 months ago

I love life.

Noëlle
Noëlle
5 years 3 months ago
I love your post!! And life :). And for the Oprah-bashing… I have a secret indulgence, I read O magazine every once in awhile. There was a beautiful article about LETTING go of anger – forgiving those that have caused grief and pain, even when they’re not sorry. I don’t know about Oprah’s whole track record since I am busy living my own life, but I do know that THAT article opened up my eyes and helped me to stop undermining myself while trying to get back at someone else that didn’t even care to know the effects of what… Read more »
Katzenberg
Katzenberg
5 years 3 months ago

I love my primal foods 🙂

Terri
Terri
5 years 3 months ago

me too

Daria
Daria
5 years 3 months ago
I saw this in action as I visited my in-laws over the holiday. It was the first time I’ve seen them since going Primal, so naturally my new “diet” was the subject of conversation. I think I at least planted some seeds as they glanced at the PB book and wrote down the website. But my stepmother-in-law was already giving excuses about how it wasn’t a good time for them to start a diet or how she probably couldn’t give up bread, etc. Our attitudes really do make all the difference. I need to remember that I can’t control anyone… Read more »
Lori
Lori
5 years 3 months ago
I had the exact same experience, i.e., first visit with the “in-laws” after going Primal. However, I took a little different approach. I didn’t say anything about my new way of eating and just make appropriate choices from the foods available. When the rest of the family was reaching for cereal and milk, I was reaching for an apple and an orange for breakfast (though if I had been home, I would have fixed eggs with veggies scrambled in). I have only gone Primal two weeks ago. When the weight loss is noticable (I have 110 lbs to lose), and… Read more »
Nia
Nia
5 years 3 months ago
I so agree with you and can relate to your experience. I, too, always get questions about my new way of living and “funny diet.” I also constantly get questions about how people can be in the shape I am or have the energy that I do. Of course, as soon as I tell them how I live, a freak out reaction soon follows with a load of excuses trailing behind. So what did I do?! I gave up fighting other people and defending my choices. And when they’re ready… really ready (if ever) they’ll come to me and I’ll… Read more »
AlyieCat
AlyieCat
5 years 3 months ago

“some folks can’t find their way out of the box because they refuse to visualize anything but the enclosure around them.”

I really like that quote and the one at the top. Thought-provoking.

cheryl
5 years 3 months ago

I found that quote really resonated with me as well. Also, “blame always betrays us in the end” Great article.

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 years 3 months ago

This is just another example of how important it is to be and live in the present moment. Most of the big life lessons I have learned boil down to being *here* now and directing my energy to the present.

ShannonCC
ShannonCC
5 years 3 months ago
I have a hard time with this. I know what people are trying to say but there’s something to be said for accepting reality. I had an abusive childhood but I was told (by my abuser) that people who blame their parents for anything are just whiny babies. I spent decades telling myself I was fine (and that the depression and anxiety I struggled with were nothing to do with my family) and I finally almost had a nervous breakdown. Now I no longer lie to myself. My childhood screwed me up and the person who raised me is sick.… Read more »
bobbie
bobbie
5 years 3 months ago

I agree very much with you on this one.

I think that there are different seasons for different things.

some times you need to look at what others did to you. some times you need to accept that you are in a bad place, and that other people put you there. Some times you need to get up and do something about it, while some times you just need to take it easy, or maybe scream as high as you can, maybe throw a plate or two into the wall.

ShannonCC
ShannonCC
5 years 3 months ago

Yes. You need to look at and accept it before you can move on.

MightyAl
MightyAl
5 years 3 months ago
You can’t blame your past for your present. I was raised in a screwed up family by a bi polar manic depressive and it had an impact on me and how I relate to people. You can’t let it hold you back though and you can’t keep it from letting you change. If you dwell in the past then you can never truly live in the present. If you can recognize that your past was screwed up then there is no reason you can’t change it. You have to confront your demons before you can dismiss them. I have been… Read more »
ShannonCC
ShannonCC
5 years 3 months ago
But if you refuse to even look at the past, how do you move forward? I know, for me, I didn’t. I spent 20 years of my adult life thinking there was something inherently wrong with me and that’s why I was depressed and anxious. Because it *couldn’t* be the abusive childhood and bad relationship with my parent. I finally accepted my childhood was abusive, finally accepted that this person is still not and never will be someone who is good for me to be around, cut them out of my life, took measures to fix what they screwed up… Read more »
tess
tess
5 years 3 months ago

congratulations on your progress, Shannon!!!

jj
jj
5 years 3 months ago
As children, we rely on others to be responsible in many areas of our lives, and if they fail miserably at that, all we can do as adults is be as responsible as we can from that point forward. Carrying a burden of blame on your own shoulders when it legitimately belongs to someone else is just as much of a trap as blaming others for problems of your own making. Being an adult is about setting those burdens down with clear eyes and saying “What can I do next to make things better?” It sounds like you’re already there.
ShannonCC
ShannonCC
5 years 3 months ago

“Carrying a burden of blame on your own shoulders when it legitimately belongs to someone else is just as much of a trap as blaming others for problems of your own making”

Thumbs up 😀

Dana
Dana
5 years 3 months ago
The trouble is that people do not understand the difference between going through the grieving process of having a crappy, abusive family, and choosing to not live your life–to wallow in self-pity rather than making your life what you want it to be. Grief has a way of interfering with life, if it’s strong enough. I do not look down on people who do not experience heavy grief after a life trauma; we all experience it differently. But I sure do see people putting ME down for suffering it more than they do, or not healing from it as fast… Read more »
Susan
Susan
5 years 3 months ago

Hi Dana,
I feel for what you are going through. In my own “family” I’ve had similar issues. The best you can do is realize it is about THEM not YOU and do your best to move on and make your own life.
I wish you well…

ShannonCC
ShannonCC
5 years 3 months ago
I relate to so much you wrote. I got a lot from talking to other people but not so much from therapy. The best thing I did was go to a local Adult Survivor’s of Child Abuse group. They have an online forum but it’s not very active. I also found an online group to talk to full of other adult children who grew up with mentally ill parents (mine has not been diagnosed but it doesn’t matter – I got so much from talking to those people). And now I don’t need it so much. Dealing with my past… Read more »
Robin
Robin
5 years 3 months ago
I understand needing to cut someone from your life. If they are not willing to change and their actions are harmful to you it’s the only healthy decision. I say forgive but don’t forget. in other words, don’t hold on to the hate or the blame but don’t let them continue to hurt you either! Dana, try tapping. It is really helping me deal with the damage from my abusive childhood and you can do it all on your own, you don’t need to rely on a therapist. Check out Tapping.com It seems lame at first, but anything,s worth trying… Read more »
Timothy
5 years 3 months ago
Dana, You write great wisdom, as always. I also grew up without a father, not through fate but by his choice. You really can’t get over a thing like that. It will always shape who you are. The challenge is to draw wisdom from it rather than unremitting grief. And that is something we have both done, for our own children will know only love from us, rather than abandonment. Even though we can’t give them the extended family they deserve, that is certainly good enough for me. I hope it is for you, as well. By seizing responsibility for… Read more »
Patricia
Patricia
5 years 3 months ago
I share with you an image of a mother and a young daughter and I imagine the scene much the same as your life. It is my own…. the picture of my grandmother and her daughter (my mother). I do not know the reason why the husband, the man abandoned his spouse and his child (my grandmother and my mother) and most likely I never will. I have seen the pattern repeat with divorces in the generations that followed. I have experienced the bitterness of loss as a result of the experience of being unwanted and rejected. I have also… Read more »
Venna
Venna
5 years 3 months ago
Dana, I’ve severed contact with most of my family because they never did add anything positive to my life and I got tired of feeling the need to defend my own life to them just because they disagreed with me being able to make my own choices. I feel quite isolated now since my son was diagnosed with autism. I don’t work anymore and I don’t really get many chance to go out because going out with my son is difficult at best and impossible when he’s having a sensory overload day. My only contact currently with anyone that doesn’t… Read more »
JM
JM
5 years 3 months ago
I completely relate to this. I’m the “black sheep” of a family of six children, headed by a narcissistic female whose only True Love was herself. That hasn’t changed, nor have any of my family members–they don’t see themselves as having done or participated in anything wrong. The projected blame always lands on me for being some kind of bad actor (which I wasn’t and am not now), and it hasn’t stopped even though we’re all nearly seniors. I’ve had to dump them all; I also have great difficult trusting others, and as you’ve said, when the chips are down,… Read more »
Richard
Richard
5 years 3 months ago

Someone very wise once told me:

A victim is someone still under the influence of past circumstances.

A survivor is someone that has moved on.

It’s not easy, but one has to move from victim to survivor.

Actually, her choice of words was better, but that is the best summary I can give.

bbuddha
bbuddha
5 years 3 months ago

You are right that what other people do can effect you. that is the part about not being able to control others. A really good book about this issue is “Toxic Parents”

Venna
Venna
5 years 3 months ago
Don’t confuse what Mark is saying about placing blame with denial. Abuse is a terrible thing to live through. (Yes, I’ve been there and still have the scars to prove it). But if you are messed up by the abuse, you are messed up and you need to work through that. Working through it includes placing responsibility where it belongs because must victims of abuse are holding the guilt themselves because they’ve probably been led to believe they did something to deserve the abuse they suffered through so they must be a bad person. Telling yourself you are fine when… Read more »
Sally
Sally
5 years 3 months ago

Love this article. The natural consequences of blame are obscured in the modern world. Thanks for bringing them into sharper relief, Mark. Grok couldn’t afford to waste time lost in the blame game and neither should we.

Jim Arkus
5 years 3 months ago
I spent a good portion of my life feeling the way you described in this article. Saw a therapist, read the books, did everything you’re told to do, and had nothing to show for it. That all changed, very organically, recently. Ever read that Henry Rollins article, “The Iron”? He’s got a great line in there (one of many), “I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts.” Absolutely true. I went primal, lost 40 lbs of fat, started lifting weights, put on 20 lbs of muscle. Confidence through the roof, and I KNOW I can… Read more »
Sally
Sally
5 years 3 months ago

Shannon — I think what you’re saying aligns well with what Mark was. Denying the facts is not point. The realization that only you can take action and change your life is(sometimes by facing the bad past and finding ways to accept and live a good life anyway). It’s all about whether you’re stuck in the putting the blame phase you reference or are busy making headway in the hard work/cleaning up phase. That’s where the prize is! Best to you!

ShannonCC
ShannonCC
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks! But the thing is, being in the blame phase looks bad to outsiders. I think that’s what the problem is. I spent a good six months being really, really angry at that person. On the outside, I was wallowing. But it was what I needed (after a lifetime of pretending we had a good relationship). So yeah, maybe spending your entire life blaming someone is bad but I think we have to allow ourselves to wallow when we need it and screw what others think.

Dana
Dana
5 years 3 months ago

Yep. You actually have no way of knowing what phase someone is in or what they are going through. What we see of a person is only a snapshot of their life. If we judge them based on that then how are we any better than they are? The anti-blamers need to live by example.

AF
AF
5 years 3 months ago

What a lovely article, and Shannon I spent years in therapy, read the collected works of Jung, wrote lots of unpublished books, and still the past is with me and always will be a foundational fault. But I like to hold onto the possibility of change. I love the idea of the retroactive effect of meaning. The last line of a sentence can change all that came before. In the words of Emily D. “What plenty it would be had all my life but been mistake just rectified in thee.”

Madame Flintstone
Madame Flintstone
4 years 3 months ago

Yes indeed. Ten-four to this good buddy.

Bill
Bill
5 years 3 months ago

Great post.

The blame game is a very easy trap to fall into. I’m guilty of it to an extent, and my dad (who has more or less given up on life) is extremely guilty of it.

Failure to take ownership of your life is not only frustrating to those around you, but extremely self-limiting. You do yourself no favors when you blame others.

Elenor
Elenor
5 years 3 months ago
It may merely be your phrasing, but I got a wry/sad chuckle at this: “The blame game is a very easy trap to fall into. I’m guilty of it to an extent, and my dad (who has more or less given up on life) is extremely guilty of it.” (This a gentle question for your consideration, not a negative comment:) Are you blaming your dad for not fighting on the way YOU want him to, or the way you would? (Or maybe just objectively pointing out his negativity?) When my dad was dying of cancer, he struggled back and forth… Read more »
Peggy The Primal Parent
5 years 3 months ago
I blame the SAD! No abusive family, pretty kick ass childhood, but mental and physical problems up the wazoo. Diet really was to blame as is evidenced by my complete recovery upon starting the Paleo diet. What had been a great childhood suddenly turned into a nightmare when I was about 11 years old wasn’t anybody’s fault but my stupid freaking diet. Honestly, the only reason I ever made it to the happy person I am today was luck, luck that I ran into the Paleo diet at all. I mean ok, and a little strength of will, but you… Read more »
Matt Muller
Matt Muller
5 years 3 months ago
I agree. It is really easy to get caught up in excuses and wallow in self pity. (I love to wallow, I’ll bet Grok was a good wallower.) I love how you started with the Albert Ellis quote. He is awesome. What I ultimately have come up with regarding responsibility is that what happened in the past is in the past. It needs to be acknowledged and dealt with, but the present and the future are all to be decided. If you had a bad experience, mourn it lament it , get it out of your system and move on.… Read more »
Peter
5 years 3 months ago

Well done Mark except for that ubiquitous exception in the blame game…. Blame it on too many carbs….

mark
mark
5 years 3 months ago

somebody help Mark get down from there! I think he’s stuck!lol.

John Belkewitch
5 years 3 months ago

I think that jumping to place blame is a bit of a natural reaction, but once the heat of the moment subsides, we need to take a step back and ask “what could I have done to alter the outcome of this situation?”

At the very least, we come out of that situation with a lesson learned and are better prepared to handle the future.

In the end, we can not control anyone’s actions but our own.

Mary
Mary
5 years 3 months ago
This could not come at a better time in my life…. a time when I am FINALLY willing to stop being a victim of circumstance and start taking ownership of my life. I was raised in a very sterile household; no love, no happiness, lots of misery and anger. I was bullied throughout all of my years in school. I developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol and as a result lived a life of abuse (by self and others). I was diagnosed with Crohns disease about 10 years ago. One of the things I will be forever grateful for… Read more »
Steve
5 years 3 months ago

The Precious Present — a great book by Spencer Johnson sums up Mark’s whole post. Today is the day, go for it. Life is great if you want it to be. I love it.

jirsay
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve seen so many people defeat themselves by making excuses and having bad attitudes. Ultimately, a person’s success depends upon his/her commitment to excellence.

Carl
Carl
5 years 3 months ago

I like to learn about life. From the fascinating physics of matter and light, to the mind boggling variety of cells that make us function. From what i’ve learned so far i’ve found that there is not a word invented by anyone in history to describe the complexities of life as we know it. But when you ‘scale up’ and begin to generalise then you see that their really are two primary choices for a human being :

” Accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibilty for changing them. ”

Keep Smiling,

Carl :o)

Bellxchat
Bellxchat
5 years 3 months ago

I love physics. Quantum Physics tried to find the smallest thing in the atom and couldn’t pin anything down! And that’s what we are: pure potentiality.

Carl
Carl
5 years 3 months ago
We share a common interest, reading about Quantum physics has been one of my greatest decisions in my life so far. Learning about the components of atoms, photons and electrons and how they interact to form molecules is simply jaw dropping knowledge. To see how the millions of atomic interactions then combine to form the millions of self replicating molecules within a single living cell goes beyond jaw dropping. But then it gets even more mind numbingly complex. Each of us have arisen from these interactions, over billions of years, with hundreds of trillions of these cells in each of… Read more »
Venna
Venna
5 years 3 months ago

Everyone should watch “What the Bleep Do We Know” and” What the Bleep do We know: Down the Rabbit Hole”. It’s the best description of quantum physics for the lay person there is out there. Blew my mind, I’ll tell you that. It made me realize just what my negative self talk was in fact doing to myself. It kind of scared me to think about it. I can’t say that I did a complete 180 on the self denigration over night, but I am much more aware of it then I used to be.

patrick
patrick
5 years 3 months ago
I have to agree with Jim Arkus in that when we take control of our health and start to live primally all the other bits just seem to fall into place. No more depression or blaming anyone else just take full control of all aspects of our health. I include financial, emotional health in this and if we do that our spiritual health will also come together. To think outside the box firstly we must realize that we have been living in a box. On our financial health we have to stop trusting all these advisors and go back to… Read more »
liberty_1776
5 years 3 months ago
Primal money = precious metals. If you do not own some you should. Money is an indirect exchange medium for consumption, one step above barter, which is direct exchange. Excess money, aka savings is delayed consumption (under consuming) and debt is over consuming. Money also has to be scarce (along with other properties) and have an intrinsic value. No paper money today is backed by a commodity. So while people can blame the politicians for spending too much, blame the Federal Reserve for enabling the over spending and devaluing the dollar, which results in business cycles and bubbles, one can… Read more »
Marsha
Marsha
5 years 3 months ago
I agree with Mark’s article. At what point do we take responsibility? While I didn’t have a bad childhood (ie..abusive parents), I am a survivor of sexual abuse (predator was a high school band teacher & one of his students). For years, i blamed myself for what happened, then I blamed others who knew but did nothing. I went thru a period of self-inflicted abuse where I ate my way to an extra 100 lbs. and didn’t see the value of life. Now, here I am fighting to get my life & health back. Its not easy, however not impossible… Read more »
Hal
5 years 3 months ago
What separates the successful (whatever your marker of success may be) from the not successful? The willingness to take the leap, to accept the risk of failure. Yes it gets harder to do with a family, yes it’s harder to do when you’re having to live paycheck to paycheck. Everyone has it in them to be successful, but it’s our fears that hold us all back. Since we have trouble embracing and accepting those fears, we find something else that can shoulder the blame for our own fears and reservations. Accepting failures, learning from mistakes and actually thriving are all… Read more »
Boris
5 years 3 months ago

This is a very good point Mark, i grew up blaming my “bad genes” for being fat and my low metabolism. The fact that i have been lean and strong for a year now shows that it is all about taking responsibility for your life.

Pat Cantwell
Pat Cantwell
5 years 3 months ago
Thanks to all for sharing in your words on Mark’s topic about how we are responsible for ourselves. This forum is a joy to read because of the intelligent comments and personal insights and I learn from you all. I saw the final Oprah and felt the words quoted above were full of sage observation. Not that any of us don’t have that same ability and more, we do. We just don’t have a staff and a venue. To quote another media figure…Anthony Robbins (give or take and maybe he borrowed this from someone else;) “people say they know something… Read more »
manna
manna
5 years 3 months ago

This was really well said Mark. Several of my friends have had parents die recently & the thought crosses my mind that I’m just not sure I can handle that when it’s my turn to go through that. I’m actually going to print this post out and file it away for such times so I can remind myself that it’ll do no good whatsoever to get lost in saddness or self pity. Not that there’s not a morning/transition period etc. But I want to remember to walk through it with a healthy mindset. Thank you so much!

ThePrimalBrett
ThePrimalBrett
5 years 3 months ago

Beautiful article, Mark. I see a lot of people pointing fingers at others, and they’re worse off because of it; such a waste of time that could be spent enjoying or bettering life. It’s like the concept of a sunk cost in economics; there’s little to be gained by dwelling on the past, people should focus on what they can do now and in the future to improve.

dani
5 years 3 months ago

I love this post. I’ve lived a healthy lifestyle for years now, but still have felt really disconnected from nature. I’ve always felt like I should live near the ocean (I live in DC). Ever since I started reading MDA, I’ve felt more and more inspired to take a leap of faith, and make the move to somewhere close to the beach, maybe even out to Cali. Who knows, I’m not there yet, but I know I will be. Thank you!

Molly Bean
Molly Bean
5 years 3 months ago

I made the choice 5 years ago to move to the beach, and I think it’s done so much for my health and state of mind. If that is what you want, you should go for it!

Bob Wayman
Bob Wayman
5 years 3 months ago

Enjoy the present moment – it is a PRESENT. Nothing of the past is in the present moment.

Dixie Lawson
Dixie Lawson
5 years 3 months ago

There is that saying-“when you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future-you’re whizzing all over today” What I know today is what I choose to think about IS a choice. Resentments are like stabbing yourself and expecting someone else to feel the pain.

Dasbutch
Dasbutch
5 years 3 months ago
Wow!!! Daddy Grok. Sorry to hear about your friend’s mother. I hope the family finds peace. Mark, this is the best blog of yours I’ve read to date. Again, WOW!! You have discovered the final component for health…Peace. Peace in knowing, it is indeed the world “WE” create. Every action has a reaction and it is our choices that stimulate the responses in our world. The ego is offended so as to not accept fault, we blame others. Wisdom states, “Count it all joy” meaning if we stay calm and first seek to understand, we do learn not to make… Read more »
Mark
Mark
5 years 3 months ago
Mark, A great article. It amazes me how many people cut themselves off from their own lives with a web of excuses and blame. If you look hard enough you can always find an excuse not to do something. People who are stuck, metaphysically as well as physically, are usually afraid of change. This goes for positive change as well as negative. Change is all about facing yourself and admitting that things aren’t how you want them to be-this is a tough nut to crack when you are really attached to your familiar old self. I practice Zen meditation and… Read more »
Alison Golden
5 years 3 months ago

You can’t strengthen your mind truly unless you strengthen your body and you can’t strengthen your body unless you strengthen your mind. So start somewhere, and go from there in ever increasing circles. Slowly.

Michael
Michael
5 years 3 months ago

To whomever posted it: Thank you for the Henry Rollins reference. I have long admired his work, but have not yet seen that one. It misted my eyes.

The world needs more good men.

Keith M
5 years 3 months ago

I appreciate the post Mark. I know as much as I try to help others help themselves…sometimes I need a “pick me up” myself.

Listening to others who are doing for themselves (as well as helping others) in any capacity inspires me to continue forward.

Georgette
Georgette
5 years 3 months ago
I myself came from a very emotionally abusive family(mother and sisters). I remember at one point wishing it were physical just so I had proof to show the world what was done to me. Like many others in that situation, I hated myself. When my mother died 4 years ago, I was happy for her as that was what she wanted but all the memories I repressed flooded me like a tidal wave and it was just this year at age 35 that I finally found the inner peace and happiness that I needed and I found it by going… Read more »
Jodi
Jodi
5 years 3 months ago

Excellent article. Well-written and thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.

drdavidflynn
drdavidflynn
5 years 3 months ago
I think that everyone goes through periods of unhealthy blaming. It’s common in a lot of conversations. The same is true with vilifying politicians or berating celebrities, but it goes the other way as well. Iconizing people we don’t really know. The one for sure thing is that, at the end of the day, we have ourselves. From a primal perspective I often wonder how our thoughts and emotions have evolved to allow us to feel grief and joy and failure and success. It also interests me that some people are easily beaten down, while others never say die. Some… Read more »
momof2groks
momof2groks
5 years 3 months ago

I love this response. Well done!

slacker
slacker
5 years 3 months ago
As seems to happen so often, Mark, your words are the ones I personally so need to hear today. Thank you. I do think, though, that there is a matter of skillful means in dealing with others, one needs to be charitable to people who aren’t yet ready to hear it all in one big ear-gulp exactly the we we understand it. One maybe needs to try it but not punish the person for not being ready. There is a teaching in Buddhism about giving the dharma in the form that the student is ready to hear being a far… Read more »
Lynn
Lynn
5 years 3 months ago
I’ve always been pretty good at taking responsibility for my life. My problem has been a huge feeling of inferiority and comparing myself to others who seem superior in every way. I’d say that’s the one factor that’s been the biggest impediment for me. I fight it and don’t give in to it as much as I used to. I’m generally overwhelmed and fearful constantly, but where does that get you? So these are my impediments that only I can be brave enough to change. I need to focus on the things I CAN control and quit worrying about what… Read more »
mike
mike
5 years 3 months ago
I was so impressed to see how emotionally mature the Japanese citizens were in response to their recent disastrous earthquake and tsunami. I heard a farmer asked who was to blame for the radiative fallout preventing him from selling his milk and he said “we are all to blame for wanting cheap electricity without requiring proper safe guards”. If that happened here (in the US) I couldn’t help but think about the public outcry and blaming of government/industry that would follow. It seems that by becoming a litigious society we have been conditioned to look to blame others for our… Read more »
Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve noticed that many cultures and people from different parts of the world think that way.

Those cultures think more like how much they can contribute to a community.
White man thinks about how much he can get for himself.

White people are materialistic consumers. I see mexican families living together under 1 roof…several families in 1 house.
White people would kill each other.

Will
Will
5 years 3 months ago

Great post.

Journey
Journey
5 years 3 months ago

Thank you, Mark, for this article today – it’s exactly what I needed to hear.

shannon
shannon
5 years 3 months ago

I think it’s ok to blame some of the people some of the time. There IS injustice in this world. People do bad things to other people, and they should be held accountable, although they often just totally get away with it.

“I get knocked down, but I get up again…” etc.

Meg
5 years 3 months ago

This needs to go viral. Bravo!! and to Jim… love your Rollins quote as well, that’s going up in the box.

CharlieB
CharlieB
5 years 3 months ago

I appreciate the comments on this website…..especially about this topic. With the exception of only a few folks, the people here are understanding and supportive. At this point (post very difficult and unexpected divorce), I can use all the help I can get. Thank you all for the insightful and honest comments! Since I’ve gone Primal, I’ve lost 27 lbs. and am slowly starting to feel like myself again….and I’m just beginning to workout again.

Mike S
Mike S
5 years 3 months ago

What an excellent post, Mark. Thanks so much.

We all have our ups and downs, and it is so easy to blame someone/something else. But Mark is so correct. Blame can be extremely debilitating, and in the end we have to accept who and where we are in life, and choose to move on to a better future. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thank you.

Gary
Gary
5 years 3 months ago

Thanks, this advice and attitude is almost as healthy as the primal blueprint. Not much reason to be physically healthy and pissed off all the time. Peace and Blessings, Gary

CharlieB
CharlieB
5 years 3 months ago

I thought it might be appropriate to share the following quotes from Confusius:

“If one dwells on the past, then you rob the present”.

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart”.

Mofrobeat
Mofrobeat
5 years 3 months ago
In the brain, neurons that fire together, wire together, and neurons that fire apart, wire apart… Millions of people live with unresolved trauma. This usually causes them to hold onto negative cognitions about themselves; “I’m to blame…I’m worthless…I’m a failure…I’m dying…It was my fault” etc… These negative cognitions do indeed get in the way, and until they are transformed, progress and happiness come slowly, if at all. Trauma, if left unprocessed, will cause the neurons to fire apart, and instead of the belief of “I was in danger, now I am not, and I am okay,” the brain will still… Read more »
wpDiscuz