But, yes, the red light on the dashboard told the truth. My car’s gas tank was empty and there wasn’t a gas station in sight.
My next thoughts were of my husband with:
How could he do this to me?
And there I was truly in the midst of the blame game. How often have you done something like this where you instantly look for someone to blame for the situation you suddenly find yourself in?
Events Are Just Events
I’ve just finished reading an excellent book called, "Loving What Is - 4 Questions That Can Change Your Life" by Byron Katie. It’s all about how we cause a lot of our own suffering and grief simply because we tell ourselves how things “should” be or what others “should” have done (he should have filled up the gas tank, my boss should appreciate all the hard work I’ve been putting in lately, my wife should support me). Katie says that events are just events. It’s when beliefs are added that something that “just is” can become much more painful.
In my case, the reality was that I needed to find a gas station. By blaming my husband, I make myself feel hurt and feel that my husband doesn't care enough about me to make sure the gas tank is full. But, that’s just a belief I’ve added. In reality, it doesn’t mean that at all. The truth could have been as simple that my husband hadn’t even noticed how little gas was left.
It's my interpretation which causes me the grief and suffering. It also gets in the way of handling the situation. My thinking is more caught up in blame and dealing with the pain of my thoughts and what it all means rather than simply and quickly doing what I need to do (find a gas station).
"We injure ourselves by the negative ideas we entertain. How often have you wounded yourself by getting angry, fearful, jealous, or vengeful? These are the POISONS that enter your subconscious mind, you were not born with these Negative Attitudes. - Joseph Murphy from The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
It's important to be able to separate what is "reality" and what is caused simply by your thoughts. By letting your thoughts start to blame others and to justify to yourself why it's not your fault, you make yourself a victim. You'll also feel like you have no control because something was done to you.
All you need to do is to be aware that it's only your thinking which is twisting the event. Then you'll be able to focus on the current situation without having to deal with any added emotional pain.
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts that causes suffering.” - Byron Katie
Just Because You Have A Thought Doesn't Mean It's True
A really interesting concept Katie points out is that just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true. You can question your thoughts as soon as you have them. For example:
Is it true that he doesn’t care about me because he didn’t put gas in the car?
Of course not. When you start to question your thoughts, you’ll quickly realize that some of them really are just silly. But, if you don’t question your thinking, then that thought becomes a truth for you whether you realize it or not.
“Often with pain and depression, there are thoughts you’ve had for so long and held so close that you don’t even know they are there. And you’ve never stopped to see if you even believe them.” - Byron Katie
In the book, "Loving What Is - 4 Questions That Can Change Your Life" the author provides four really simple questions to ask yourself whenever you're dealing with a painful situation. It's a wonderful method of freeing yourself from the blame game as well as finding clarity in what's real and what isn't.
I was so impressed with this book and I'd highly recommend picking up a copy. It's one of those books in which the concept is so very simple you'll wonder why you didn't think of it yourself.
Additional Resources - Byron Katie Video
Byron Katie has a really good web site at: www.thework.com where you can download an excerpt from the book but also the worksheets that she uses in her process.
You can also watch a 22 minute video of an introduction to The Work by Byron Katie