Fault and responsibility

Celebrities as a species aren’t particularly wise. They make just as many dumb choices as the rest of us.

Probably more.

But people seem to listen better when a star suggests something, so here goes …

When Gwyneth Paltrow “consciously uncoupled” from Chris Martin a month after my own marriage ended, I thought the phrase was total wankery and bull crapola.

Who consciously uncouples? They crash and burn in a messy, dramatic and completely miserable heap.

But, as the months passed and my anger subsided, I realised that while Gwyneth’s enthusiasm for steam cleaning her vagina might be a bit loopy, she’s got it right on the divorce front.

If it’s a choice between consciously uncoupling and taking the messy, dramatic path, I’m all for the former.

Gwyneth told the New York Times magazine recently: ”Really, the question becomes how much of your ego are you willing to check at the door, and can you let go of spite – because if you can do those things, then you absolutely can have a friendly divorce. It’s just how much control do you have over your own behaviour, really, at the end of the day.”

For Gwyneth, it was important to keep things friendly for the sake of her kids.

”What if I didn’t blame the other person for anything, and held myself 100% accountable? What if I checked my own shit at the door and put my children first?”

I was reminded of Gwyneth’s sensible attitude to divorce after watching Will Smith share some wisdom on Instagram – he posted it earlier this year, but I only saw it this week.

It struck a chord because – as with Gwyneth’s decision  – it deals with a subject I’m quite passionate about on HouseGoesHome.

Reflecting on a debate he had with a friend, Smith discusses the differences between fault and responsibility.

He talks about how when something bad happens in our lives, we want to find fault somewhere. But what does blaming people do to solve things?

He argues that we need to realise we have the power to fix a problem, no matter who caused it.

Taking responsibility for fixing a problem reclaims your power. It’s a declaration that you refuse to let obstacles or difficult circumstances render you helpless. It’s an act of strength.

No matter how satisfying it may be to place the fault on someone else, nothing will satisfy you more than being able to take control of the situation and change it for the better.

Smith notes: “It don’t matter whose fault it is that it’s broken, it’s your responsibility to fix it.”

He gives an example: “It’s not your fault if your partner cheated and broke up your marriage, but it is for damn sure your responsibility to figure out how to take that pain and how to overcome that and build a happy life for yourself.

“Fault and responsibility do not go together. When something is somebody’s fault, we want them to suffer, we want them punished, we want them to pay, we want it to be their responsibility to fix it, but that’s not how it works.

“As long as we are pointing the finger … we are jammed and trapped into victim mode. When you are in victim mode you are stuck in suffering.

“Road to power is in taking responsibility. Your heart. Your life. Your happiness.”

Damn straight, Will.

I chose to heal my heart. But, to make that happen, I needed to stop blaming my ex for the hassles, hardships and smaller bank balance that followed him leaving.

Instead, I chose to focus on the positives in my new life.

There are so many positives. And I am so much happier.

I took responsibility not just for my new life but my role in the old one ending. I acknowledged that I had contributed to the dysfunction that destroyed my marriage.

I wish we’d found a better way to end our relationship, one that wasn’t quite so hurtful. But I can’t change that now.

You imagine there will be vindication and victory in the person “at fault” suffering, but I know that’s not going to make me feel better.

As Will noted, the road to empowerment is in taking responsibility for your life and happiness.

I’m not interested in staying jammed in victim mode.

Life is way too short for that.

Song of the day: Howard Jones “No one is to blame”


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