Ever spend time with someone who is completely oblivious to how their actions affect others?  They have no concept of the time it takes them self to do basic things?  And they shrug off all responsibility for their actions?  Welcome to my vacation.

Every single morning she would be late to leave at the agreed upon time. Indeed, our intended start time was often very early, as we were trying to catch the wildlife in the National Parks during their feeding cycle.  However, when you, personally, have set your alarm clock for the wee hours of the morning to be certain you have given yourself ample time to stumble about and prepare to depart, and you end up sitting day after day waiting on someone who hasn’t– well, it started to quickly become an issue.

Admittedly, I live alone, and I’m not used to waiting for another person before heading out the door.  And, typically, I hang out with individuals who are open to communication, perceptive, and diligently working to grow themselves

My lesson- Instead of going directly to the individual, I went to our mutual friend first, to ask if this was normal behavior for her friend.  I also expressed to her my frustrations with having my time disrespected.  This didn’t allow me to keep it lighthearted, and I felt I had unfairly put our mutual friend in the middle. When I did finally approach the person directly, I apologized for not coming to her first, and then I expressed my frustrations.

Our conversation went like this:

Me: “I apologize for not coming to you directly to express my frustration over your constantly being late to leave each morning at the agreed upon time.”

Her:  “People have complained all my life about how long it takes me to get ready.  If I allowed myself to worry about them, I would always be upset.”

Me: My mouth dropped to the ground.  Did I just hear her correctly?  She literally just said she does not care how her actions affect other people.

Her: “Really, I’m only fifteen to twenty minutes late anyway.”

Me: “I’m not sure that’s entirely correct.”

Her: Involving our mutual friend, “Was there ever a day when I was more than twenty minutes late?”

Alright, I’m just going to interject here because you can probably see where this is headed.  To me, debating the amount of time that one is late everyday completely misses the bigger picture… that she was late every single day.  And, instead of taking ownership of that, she chose to debate it.

Let’s look at victimization – I can’t possibly be responsible for my actions or reactions because of my situation or my past. “I wasn’t that late.  Besides, I worked nights before coming here, and you are just judging me without understanding my situation.”

Let’s look a ownership – “I’m so incredibly sorry.  I’ve been struggling with getting up early because I was working the night shift before our trip.  Obviously we need to find a solution that works for all of us so I don’t keep you both waiting each day.”

To me, these are huge differences, and I have to be honest; I found myself incredibly triggered by her victimization. As a coach, I am used to people actively digging deep within to unravel their victimization and learn communication, self-care, and emotional tools to grow and enhance their lives and their relationships.  Clearly, no one has all the answers, and perfect does not exist, but I now, more than ever, realize how blessed I am to have surrounded myself, in my life, with people who are actively trying to take ownership for themselves and their dreams.

It takes extreme courage to open ourselves up to growth.  It means throwing open the curtains on our habits, choices, and intentions. And, quite often, what is uncovered proves to be painful to confront.  This situation made me incredibly grateful for the awakening that I have pushed for within myself, as well as witnessed within my friends, colleagues and clients.  To get to be present for others as they embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly is such an honor.

So, I will ask of you what I ask of myself; reflect on an area of your life where you are victimizing yourself, rather than taking ownership.  And I encourage you to ask yourself what ownership in that area would look like, and how it would impact your life, and likely the lives of those around you.  My guess is that if you really take yourself into this question, you’ll realize that ownership is like rocket fuel for your life’s dreams and desires.  Be courageous.

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