I was scrolling through Facebook. It was the usual sea of selfies and politics. Breaking news about the latest government scandal followed by a friend changing her profile picture and a few event notifications. And then, I saw it.
Another article blaming me for all my problems.
As a person with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I am no stranger to the concept that everything hard in our lives can be fixed if we just change our attitudes. My struggles and hardships are routinely belittled by words like “complaining,” “lazy,” and more recently, “entitled millennial.”
There are no shortage of articles simplifying the pursuit of happiness from a perspective of privilege, which is why there needs to be a direct response to this harmful and inaccurate message. Becca Martin’s “Hate To Break It To You But You Are The Reason Your Life Sucks So Much” downplays the very real pain of people who don’t have the privilege to enact major life changes at whim.
“The only thing in the world holding you back from achieving greatness is in fact you.”
If you come from a position of extreme privilege in which there are no institutions actively working to hold you back, sure, the only thing preventing your achievement is you. But what about those who are held back from accomplishing their goals because they are victims of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia? Those are just four examples of systems of oppression that making blaming someone for their position in life irresponsible.
If you think the world is out to get you it’s because you have a shit attitude towards life – you’re looking at everything the wrong way.
Or maybe it’s because sometimes, the world actually is out to get us. Maybe it’s because the systems of power in this world often times are out to get us. Blaming people for having a “shit attitude towards life” does nothing to dismantle the systems that encourage people to develop that attitude in the first place. Hate to break it to you, but you’re the one who is looking at everything the wrong way.
You’re using the negatives to fuel you instead of the positives. You’re letting the negatives control your mind and in turn you’re allowing them control of your life. You’re letting the bad things win.
And here’s where it gets personal. There are a variety of reasons people would take offense to this article based on their own lived experiences. For me, this part hits home. This type of language erases the very real struggles of living with mental illness. Developing a positive attitude isn’t a choice everyone can easily make. I am not letting the negatives control my mind – I am working hard, every day, to stop them from controlling my mind, but sometimes I can’t.
Sometimes, my brain chemistry just won’t let me. And I’m not afraid to say that’s not my fault.
You will never amount to any form of greatness if you spend your life working some boring desk job that just drains you of your energy because you’re too lazy to get out and search for something more fulfilling – that is no one’s fault but your own.
Not everyone has the financial privilege to quit their desk job. Would you really tell the single parent working an emotionally unfulfilling desk job to pay for their children’s education that they are simply too lazy to find something more fulfilling? The idea that boring desk jobs are for people lacking ambition fails to acknowledge reality. A job doesn’t have to be a passion. Sometimes, a job is just a job. And if someone has a job they hate, a job that drains them of their energy, you cannot tell them it is their fault. If you genuinely care about people being able to fulfill their passions instead of being stuck in boring jobs, you should instead be angry at the system that forces them into the jobs out of economic necessity and a lack of opportunity.
You will never travel the world and see Paris if you keep making excuses for why you can’t go. Just buy the plane ticket, pack a bag and go.
Just buy a plane ticket? Are you serious? Do you know how many people are living in poverty?
Let the world shape you and open your eyes. Let it challenge you and frustrate the hell out of you. Struggle with language barriers and get lost. Surrender the control you possess in everyday life and just go.
This is a great idea, and I wish it were that easy. I really do. But blaming people for their problems isn’t going to do anything to create a society where this dream can come true.
You will never lose weight if you don’t change your eating habits.
Unless your weight is a result of something other than eating habits, and losing that weight isn’t a realistic or even necessary goal.
You will never improve your health if you don’t eat more vegetables and exercise.
Unless you can’t afford vegetables and don’t have time to exercise.
You will never get smarter or broaden your horizons if you’re unwilling to learn from others and read.
Yes, this is correct. I believe the author of this article can embrace her own idea here and broaden her horizons by learning from those with less privilege. Learning from those who struggle with mental illness and economic stress. Find empathy for those of us who can’t just change our attitudes and turn our lives around.
You will never be happy if you’re constantly looking at the negatives. You will never reach happiness in your life if you’re constantly surrounding yourself by people and things that drain you.
And together, we will never reach happiness if we’re constantly putting other people down for their life situations. It is much harder for us to be happy when articles like these refuse to acknowledge the true sources of our everyday battles.
You are the reason you are unhappy, you are the reason you’re stuck in a rut and your relationships are poor and you’re constantly criticizing others and looking for more. That’s all on you.
No. We cannot control everything that happens to us. I am not the reason I am unhappy. My unhappiness is a natural reaction to external events, and you know what? I can even use that unhappiness to motivate me. I can use it to create art, to have empathy for others who are struggling, to work towards creating a world that does indeed foster happiness.
Do not blame people for being “stuck in a rut” when they are fighting a society that actively pushes them down. Do not blame people when their “relationships are poor” without understanding their context. Do not criticize people for “looking for more” while also blaming them for not looking for more.
“You need to keep going when everything in you is telling you to give up because that’s the only way you’ll ever amount to anything great.”
Yes. I do keep going when everything in me is telling me to give up. I keep going when articles like these tell me to give up, tell me to stop complaining and asking for help, tell me that my problems aren’t valid enough to warrant unhappiness.
“Stop doing things that don’t fulfill you, stop blaming others for your problems and stop thinking life owes you something because it doesn’t. If you want your life to get better then start living like it. Start doing something positive in the right direction and don’t stop until you get there, then keep going.”
Stop writing articles that don’t fulfill people who can’t just change their attitudes. Stop blaming people for being victims of systematic oppression. Stop acting like people think life owes them something just because they recognize their problems aren’t their own fault. If you want our lives to get better, start listening. Start doing something positive by reaching out to us and asking how you can help. Blaming us isn’t positive. Blaming us doesn’t help.