I Have Broad Shoulders ~ Powerless Guilt

Perhaps its the guilt that’s programmed into us, for surely I was reared with an unreasonably innate sense of being responsible for whatever went awry around me. I became a bottomless pit of enabling. Those who do want a dumping ground are keen at sensing others they can dump on. Have you noticed?guilt1

Back when I naively took all of this dumping to heart, it felt like I must’ve made every wrong decision set before me. How could anyone possibly be so wrong so many times. It took a very long time to climb out of that conundrum and even now it’s work trying to not fall back into it.

I have developed a method to the madness.

Suffering builds compassion.

I’ve read this quip in better Biblical context, but I’ll be darned if I can find it now so I’ll just paraphrase. You get the point. Now I try to use the sieve of compassion in how willing I am to let others dump on me. Sometimes someone needs to dump more than I need not to be dumped on. I tend to error on the side of caution, even when I know full well how backwards their dumping is – how they’ve distorted life to free themselves at my expense.

My protections against dumping have taken on the life of “I have broad shoulders.” If the situation merits I’ll choose to bear the brunt of another’s shortcoming rather than impose a painful truth back on them. At that point the glaring insult of who they are is deemed more as pathetic than a direct affront to me. Knowing how easily this gets out of hand, I am cautious not to become a dumping ground for the habitual dumper. Habitual dumpers are bullies by nature, usually a few good slap-downs and they’ve got the message.

Laying guilt on someone else rarely stops with ‘once’ after we’ve made ourselves a willing participant. I’ve disciplined myself to be selective in how I hand out leniency and to whom. The times I most often don’t allow it (anymore) are in business and that took no small feat of practice to accomplish. I will hold their feet to the fire, but that’s another post for another day.

This speaks to the people in our personal lives, who can be very cunning in leaving others with a sense of guilt to re-balance their own misgivings of conscience.

With all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one. [William of Ockham]

Maybe I’m too lazy to engage what I consider absurd. Maybe I don’t want to become lazy in being so superficial myself. Maybe I don’t like conflict (which is true). Maybe I’ve been soooo dumped on I have an overly sensitive aversion to it (which is also true). The real truth be known, I simply don’t have patience for what I perceive as and what is destined to become shallow, self-serving circulars of petty distraction from real issues. To what end? Pride? Clearly that’s momentary gratification if you ever do reach any gratifying end with those prone to redundant dumping, which you usually don’t.

I have broad shoulders, blame me and let’s move on.” I literally think this to myself while making the decision whether or not to accept another’s dumping. Sometimes it is combined with a sincere yearning to give them benefit of doubt when, far too often, they have no olive branch1inclination to extend that to me. Whatever my reason, I keep doing it, consciously making that choice, understanding better why I’m making that choice and taking the road less complicated.

These are crossroads most of us face several times a day and some may be so adapted they’re dismissed out of hand. As someone conditioned to accept whatever guilt was thrown at them, incorporating the heavy burden into the fabric of their own lives, I prepare for the risks of extending more calculated leniency. Each time I do, I am more conscious of being conscious of it than the time before – which is healthy progress.

One dilapidated, unkempt, barely legible crossroad sign reads “This Way To Dumb Pride 1-mile” [arrow points left]; and another, well-cared-for, clearly painted sign reads “You Have Broad Shoulders 2-miles” [arrow points right]. Knowing my choice will be the longer but less cluttered route, I trek happily down it because it’s the most direct one to that moment’s sanity. My shoulders can carry their knapsack, too, pile it on. Sometimes I regret carrying the extra knapsack, but I am getting better at deciding whose knapsack I’m willing to carry. I’m not feeling powerless guilt anymore.

If you’re one of those who knowingly sloughs blame onto others because that’s just what you do to live with yourself, be just as aware, the joke’s on you. If you’re appreciative of a compassionate kindness extended when you most needed it, may that leniency revisit both of you ten-fold.


In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Crossroads.”

7 thoughts on “I Have Broad Shoulders ~ Powerless Guilt

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