Who do you blame?
Do you blame someone else for the frustrations in your practice? Be honest with yourself. When the phone is not ringing, or it is ringing too much and you don't want to answer it, who do you blame?
We all do it from time to time.
On some level, the blame never goes away. It is just a low hum in the back of one's mind. A low grumble voice in the head that says, "my practice/life would be better if some -- fill in the blank -- person, place, situation, judge, assistant, client, opponent, colleague, parent, child, city, state, country -- were different."
What about you?
I've noticed that just about everybody has something or somebody that they blame for the biggest frustration in their lives. (Or just the frustration du jour.) We all think that the person, situation, or past event is so completely out of our hands and out of our control that there is nothing we can do but relish a really juicy, medium-rare, grass-fed, char-grilled bitch session for dinner every night. We eat it every night, because it tastes like something so familiar to us, like something from childhood. We convince ourselves that this is fact, and use this as justification to complain about it. A lot.
What about me, you ask?
I had a certain teacher in grade school who decided to get creative with her lesson plan one day. She asked the class what everybody's daddy did for a living. (For real.) Then she told the entire class whether that was a "blue collar" job or a "white collar" job. Duck, duck, goose.
In my neck of the woods, there were a good number of doctors and lawyers and such. When it came around to me, and I let my teacher know that my father was a regional sales manager in the automotive industry, my teacher instructed the class that SaraEllen's daddy had a blue collar job.
"But he has an MBA," I protested.
"Blue collar," my teacher insisted.
Recess sucked that day.
In the years since, I credited this experience as one of the catalysts that sent me to law school, that got me through the bar exam, and led me to self-employment and consumer protection law. As a matter of spiritual and emotional hygiene, I must regularly confront my judgments of what it means to be "white collar," and what it means to feel ashamed at being called "blue collar" in front of your peers.
It is a very American thing to look at who is ahead of you, and look at who is behind you, with fear and blame, rather than stand where you are and look deeply into yourself. Entire policies are based on this.
I admit it -- I have to work on how I still blame other people for the world not being exactly as I'd design it. And when the occasional person with legal and financial problems emails me an exceptionally long dossier of how damn near everybody and everyone done them wrong, and I find myself feeling judgmental that they are not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, and then I judge myself for such unkind judgments....whoa, I slow down. And then I mentally role-reverse with them to see how I am often no better than they, and they are often no worse than I, in some aspect, however slight or stretched it may be.
I invite you to try it. What experiences led you to where you are today? If you are at the point where you can see the gift in these experiences, whether sepia-toned memories or alarms blaring and bloviating from the news media right now, look at how you still blame these people and experiences. Role reverse with them. A bit of peace is over there, and with it, the insight on what you can do about it.