Mirror, Mirror…

How often do you find yourself deflecting blame that comes your way?  If you forgot to send an important email or didn’t do the dishes like your spouse asked you to and they question you about it, what is your response?  “I was too busy.”  “I ran out of time.”  “I forgot!” or my personal favorite, “I would have been able to accomplish that if you hadn’t…”, etc.  It seems that more and more people lack that ever important quality of humility.  We act like an impenetrable shield, blocking incoming blame our way and deflecting it to others.  Sometimes we deflect blame on things that can’t defend themselves.  “If the dog wouldn’t have…”  “If I didn’t have to fix that broken…”, etc.  So how does one gain humility in a society of ever-growing egos?

The mirror is a good starting place.  Have you ever stopped for a few minutes and just looked in the mirror?  Looked into your own eyes and just thought about what type of person you are?  In my first blog entry I discussed how people are responsible for their own choices and thus, control their own lives.  Have you looked into your own soul and told yourself that you are in control?  I hadn’t until my brother gave me “The Traveler’s Gift” By Andy Andrews.  Andy does a fantastic job explaining this concept. We are where we are in life because of decisions that we’ve made.  And that’s good news because if we controlled how we got here then we control where we go from here.  We all have to accept personal responsibility for our own lives.  No one else controls my life, but me.  We are all connected, so how can this be?

Let’s say the university you attend randomly selects your roommate for your freshman year at college.  Y’all are both fresh from high school, so in essence y’all are starting out all on your own for the first time.  After a couple months you notice that your roommate hasn’t been going to class as much as he was at the beginning of the semester.  You also notice that he’s increasingly less hygienic and you suspect that he has begun to do drugs with a group of friends he has that doesn’t match your lifestyle.  Despite some warning flags when the semester is over you continue to be roommates in your second semester.  The drug problem has really manifested at this point and your roommate even has started doing drugs in the dorm room.  There is a random inspection by the Resident Assistant (R.A.) one day and they call the cops after the suspected drug use.  You are charged with your roommate and get kicked out of the dorm!  Your natural reaction is to be furious with the “stupid” roommate that went down a bad path and that dragged you down with him; however, that’s not how I see this situation.

As soon as your roommate began skipping class, did you inquire about his lack of motivation?  No?  Then you chose not to inquire.  When you saw your roommate hanging out with less desirables did you request to the university or your R.A. to switch dorms or at least roommates?  When you noticed the drugs in the dorm, did you let the R.A. or authorities know immediately?  If you didn’t act on any of these things then why are you blaming the roommate?  Ultimately it’s your choices that dictate your path.

I know there are exceptions to every rule, but I learned at a young age a generally accepted principle that I fear many have not learned as I have.  If you make bad choices, bad things will happen to you.  Now we can get into a lengthy debate about what constitutes “bad,” but I’m old school when it comes to defining “bad.”  Bad is giving into temptations that are damaging to your potential future, bad is deciding to drive drunk after having too many drinks, bad is influencing others to fall into addiction with you, bad is being envious of others while not striving to obtain things that you desire, bad is striving to obtain things over experiencing love, bad is being greedy and not giving to charity, bad is giving into lust and not respecting women, bad is spending more than you make, bad is rationalizing poor choices instead of learning from them, bad is eating too much and not exercising, bad is not taking responsibility and blaming others for your failures.  Most of these decisions happen when we aren’t paying attention.  Most of these decisions occur when we let our mind run on autopilot.  Making decisions without thinking about them at all and letting our human instincts dictate our lives.  We are hungry, so we eat.  Those bright shiny golden arches look good.  Like a fly to a bug zapper we roll on into that drive thru.

I also believe that if you make good choices, good things will happen to you.  Good is deciding to stop eating ice cream before going to bed, good is deciding to take nightly walks with your spouse, good is packing a healthy lunch before going to work or school instead of eating fast food, good is being grateful for what you have, good is reading inspirational or motivational material a little bit each day, good is being mindful of those you surround yourself with, good is saving for your future or your kids’ futures, and good is accepting responsibility for your choices and actions.

So if you find yourself depressed or upset about a certain aspect of your life visit your mirror.  Reflect on the choices that you made that led you to this unsatisfactory state.  What choices impacted your path the most?  Which choices can you learn from?  What choices can you make going forward to bring you to where you want to be?



About bradleybertoniere

Leader. Strong communicator known for building successful teams while establishing long-lasting relationships and customer bases. Skilled in change management by guiding teams through transitional periods. Creates positive learning environments by mentoring employees. Thrives in high-pressure situations while meeting tight deadlines. Strong business acumen with ability to analyze turnover data and understanding financial functions of an organization. Passionate about helping others succeed in life. "The moment you become an adult is the moment you accept personal responsibility for your life."
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4 Responses to Mirror, Mirror…

  1. bobbyness says:

    Sometimes in life, the path of “moving forward” is destroyed by External factors, out of one’s control.

    In a general sense, you cannot be 100% external or 100% internal. Everything in life needs
    a balance. For example, in the Sales world, they adopt a completely irrational 100% internal locus of control. At Best Buy I’ve seen the managers sitting in the back room getting stressed out while getting counselled by the district leadership. ‘You had 2,000 people walk into the store today, why didn’t you sell more TV’s?’ I’m sure it is worse for the auto sales industry, which I despise more than retail. The salesman, thinks that public opinion, is just something to manipulate and deceive to produce more for the organization. I never agreed with this. I feel that because of people like Edward Bernays, we have seen what mass deception looks like, and I have witnessed in my life No Greater Evil. Look up Edward Bernays and the ‘Torches of Liberty’ for example. You can also look at the feminist movements as well. To get back on track, at Best Buy you have no idea what the motive was for each of those 2,000 “potential buyers” or “mindless vessels” that walked into the store. Maybe, no one intended on buying a TV that day. Just as at the car lot, the 50 people were smart consumers that were merely gathering information before their informed decision on which automobile they wanted to purchase. What I’m getting at is public opinion is sovereign and not for sale.
    Another aspect with this internal locus of control is ‘victimhood’. Carson referrers to
    poems that his mom would tell him about which would say everything is internal. If you become a victim, then maybe its your choices in life that lead to that result. Tell that to the 4 year old that gets shot outside of a daycare in broad daylight around New Orleans. What do you tell them? “You shouldn’t have been standing there, tough break kid.” It’s the same thing. Ben Carson doesn’t believe in legitimate victimhood. There is another aspect in all things that shortsighted people don’t seem to understand. Sometimes in life, you get jacked. Much like the hundreds of thousands of collateral war victims of the Iraq invasion, they didn’t have a choice, they were jacked by external forces that they had little or ZERO control over. What I’m getting at is there is a legitimate external locus of control or victimhood that people like Ben Carson don’t seem to not understand.


    • Ben Carson was dealt a rough hand income-wise, but was very fortunate to have a wise mother and sibling(s). We are dealt different hands in life and these are the external factors that you speak of. These factors are out of our control and can be chaotic. We can’t focus our mind’s energy on these external factors that we can’t control because we can’t control them. That is why we must focus on what we can control. We can choose to try and help people that have become victims in this chaotic world. We can choose to inspire and influence despite our personal battle. As far as the young child being shot, that is a reflection of evil and tragedy and obviously is part of the chaotic aspect of our world. You’re right, the child didn’t have a choice… The child got dealt the wrong card. The “man” had the choice and chose evil. Now the next round of choices comes to those affected by this tragedy. The kids parents could weep, be depressed, and become emotionally numb, which is completely understandable given the circumstance. But at what point to they decide to choose to pick themselves back up. They could join anti-violence groups in impoverished communities. They could speak about their tragedy and try to motivate people to take a deeper look into their actions. There is always a choice. This blog post is about personal responsibility and having humility to acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake. We can’t focus on the out of control external factors, we must focus on what we control. You were dealt some cards when you were in Afghanistan. That was an external force that affected you. It’s now about the choices you make. Before making those choices I would first take an inventory of all the blessings in your life. Two parents that love you (a lot of people have 1 or no loving parents), four healthy siblings (lots of kids get cancer, have disabilities, or have died), two jobs (many can’t even get one), you’re a home owner (so many Americans rent now and help the rich get richer when you are putting your sweat equity and investing it into your future), and if you focus on these blessings and look into your strengths… I know you can choose a path that leads to happiness. I have 100% faith in you, but it’s not about me believing in you, it’s about you believing in yourself. Think about Maw Maw Ethel playing kings in the corner on a Sunday afternoon after church. We shuffle the cards, deal them out, and more often then not that sweet, loving woman would beat us with a smile on her face. When I asked her one time for a school project what’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone… She said, “Not to worry about nothing. Everything works out in the end.” Maw maw was born at the end of World War I, lived through World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, and a big piece of the Iraqi War. She had a spell of depression after her husband passed away in his 50’s. When we think of Maw Maw we could talk about how she passed away, we can talk about how Katrina destroyed that home where we played cards, we can focus on the tragic and depressing parts of our memories, or… We can take a sip of coffee, reflect on the lessons we learned at church, put a smile on our face, and shuffle the deck to deal another hand.


  2. bobbyness says:

    I wish it were that simple. I had a panic attack for two days straight last week. The VA was late sending my meds. I can’t control the dreams I have every night, the pain, the panic attacks, the paranoia. These are all subconscious. I understand that you see the glass half full. I simply dont have it


    • Your mind is a sponge… It soaks up the stimuli around you. What you watch, what you read, what you listen to all get absorbed into your brain. If you keep watching what you are watching (conspiracy theory documentaries, Fox News, etc), if you keep reading what you are reading (Mein Kampf, etc.), and keep listening to what you are listening to (Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, etc) then you are going see the world as a terrible, dark place with people and evils out to get you. If you listen to more inspirational materials, if you watch more inspirational materials, if you listen to more inspirational materials, then I guarantee it will help you with your stress. It will help you with your dreams. It will help you with your stress or panic attacks. You have more power then you know Bobby. But listening to the fear inducing negativity on a constant basis is not healthy and you must rise above it. It may be entertaining and stimulating, but it’s bad for you. It’s bad for your brain, it’s bad for your mind, and it’s bad for your health. Go two weeks without listening to all those things. Two weeks. Read something inspirational and watch more comedies instead of documentaries. Listen to classical music or comedy stations on your radio. Try it and tell me whether or not your stress level goes down or not. You have more power then you know.


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