I used to know a girl who would complain at her boyfriend, “You are giving me anxiety!” when she felt stressed out. He would then feel guilty and help her feel better.
The thing is, he wasn’t causing anything. No one can make you feel any certain way. People carry out their own actions and sometimes their actions impact us, but they can never rob us of our freedom, of our own efficacy. The power we have as thinking creatures is that we don’t have to be taken over by whatever impulse bubbles up, we can consider it — and then choose how to proceed.
But this is difficult work. It’s infinitely easier to pass the blame on to others, to act as if we have no control when in fact, we have all the control.
Sometimes it feels better to infantilize ourselves, to say, “I have no control over my feelings or actions because of this special circumstance.” But we know this is not true, or else there would be no hope, no recovery, nothing but a species of people floating around knee-jerk reacting to every stimuli. As Camille Paglia argues, “We cannot have a world where everyone is a victim. “I’m this way because my father made me this way. I’m this way because my husband made me this way.” Yes, we are indeed formed by traumas that happen to us. But you must take charge, you must take over, you are responsible.”
Our culture, at least on the internet, is very much one of flaunting victimhood, of shifting blame to others and expecting them to fix you. We don’t want to teach people who to be strong, we want to teach the world to be soft.
It’s natural to want this, there’s no shame in that. But we don’t do ourselves any favors by it, we just prolong the inevitable. The world will never be soft. We will get hurt, we will feel anxiety, we will not be happy and at peace all the time. The more we learn how to let go and then practice letting go, the more naturally it will become.