Blame. It’s an easy thing to assign, but takes a lot of work to avoid. And yet, placing blame or ignoring culpability is what I did best for years.
As a younger man I loved my TV career. When I started in show business, I was determined to be the top host in the world – landing the best show on TV and giving it my all every week. I did land several big shows on big networks like HGTV, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Channel; and to keep stability and make more money along the way I worked for a local TV news station doing traffic and weather. I had my goals firmly set, I had a plan for my life and my career, and I saw my finish line.
But all of that changed when I lost the three television projects I was working on within weeks of each other. In that one-month span my entire plan was wiped out, and I was faced with a blank slate, and no solid vision of where to turn.
I actually did have another plan, and I was already working it. I just see it at the time.
Since childhood I have been a student of enlightenment, motivation and serving others. When I was 10, I helped my grandfather deliver meals on wheels to his friends who were house-bound, prompting one of our recipients to remark about me: “That kid has the heart of a volunteer.” In grade school I found myself advising all my friends about their home lives, love lives, personal struggles and more. I just came naturally to me, and I had great results with it. I attended my first open AA meeting with my mother at the age of 13, and continued to attend on my own for years after.
In college I studied the workshops and teachings of Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, Leo Buscaglia, and many others. In my early 30′s I completed the Landmark Education Curriculum for excellence, eventually becoming a head coach for Landmark programs in Los Angeles. I earned certifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy and Timeline Therapy, and was compelled to absorb all I could in the empowerment world because I loved learning anything and everything I could about personal growth. All that hard work and yet at the time I did it because I loved it.
With my TV career at a sudden standstill, I was faced with the prospect of failure – a concept I previously refused to consider – but that failure was now all I could see.
I was filled with anger and blame for the people I held responsible for my circumstances. I blamed my parents, my brother, the TV executives, the business itself, and anyone else I could think of. My anger toward others allowed me to be right about my resentment, and not focus on any of my own culpability. And that’s what blame did for me – it gave me the freedom to avoid personal responsibility, and be right about my anger.
But hanging on to my resentment and justifying it with blame only perpetuated the issue and its resolution remained painfully out of reach. I pushed away friends, stopped engaging in physical activities like running and biking, and worst of all began to regret my decision to pursue a life in TV in the first place. I began to look at my choices as a huge mistake, and the depression I felt as a result was all-encompassing. I became my own worst enemy, kicking myself when I was down.
Several months later I got an email from a close friend that I had helped get off alcohol while I was in training for my NLP certification. She had just reached her 1 year sobriety milestone and was writing to thank me for not only changing her life, but saving it. She wrote that she had been lost her whole life before working with me; searching for love in a bottle, or an empty affair. It wasn’t until I helped her release her pain that her addiction could finally be eliminated. She was happy, successful, sober, and in love, and our work together was the catalyst.
The letter floored me.
After reading the letter I realized I wasn’t a failure. I was a success. My volunteer heart, my love for enlightenment, motivation, and helping others, along with my personal experiences, all added up to who I was for others in need. I was making a difference in other people’s lives, and to me that was the ultimate accomplishment.
And that was when I knew what I had to do: I stopped blaming others for what were ultimately my choices, and forgave myself not only for my choices, but for second guessing them in the first place. I set forth to discover the destiny that was screaming my name for years, but eluded my listening.
I let go of the past and all my resentment, and chose to trust my true gift as a coach and mentor. The shift was definite, and the endeavor became effortless. As my friend put it, I was finally following my Yes’s.
So, what does accountability mean for you? When was the last time you challenged yourself to let go of blame and take responsibility for your own choices? Pick one time in your life where you blamed someone or something else for holding you back or getting in your way, and ask yourself… “Who really was in my way?” The answer may surprise you. It may set you free.
“When you change the way you look at things – the things you look at change!” -Wayne Dyer
Steve Truitt is a performance coach, TV host, and sought-after motivational speaker. Known as “The Now What? Coach”, Steve specializes in the fields of addiction, relationships, and personal transition.