We have all sorts of internal reactions and responses to situations. These reactions and responses can propel us into all sorts of behaviours – some of them helpful, some of them not.
What we think and do comes from our brains and minds which have a evolutionary and personal history.
These histories have a powerful influence on us, but they are not our fault.
Evolution is not our fault
Each of us is at the leading edge of billions of years evolution. A vast expanse of trial and error (mostly error) that shaped all life on earth including us.
As humans we are the latest addition to a long line of evolutions best, perhaps the smartest, attempts to get it right.
Evolution has given us our big brains, which help us understand, feel, plan, remember and think. These brains are developments of earlier, smaller brains. Rather than build something new, evolution has added extras to earlier models, bolting on new parts to the older framework.
Rather than give us a shiny new BMW of a brain, evolution has given us a turbo charged Model T Ford with go faster stripes and a CD changer.
Our brains can do wonderful things, the fact that I can sit here and write these sentences and that you can read them wherever you are in the world demonstrates that.
But the workings of our minds are a balancing act between the ancient primitive brains our reptile and mammalian ancestors and the newer thinking brain that only arrived in the last million years.
We are stuck with a brain that can do wonderful things and that can do awful things. We can imagine the best, or imagine the worst, we can be fearful, angry, sad, resentful, bitter, anxious and all those other thoughts and emotions because we have a brain that was built this way.
Everyone has a brain like this – It’s not your fault.
The human condition is not your fault
Each and every one of us is in a difficult predicament. We are born, we grow old (if we are lucky), we get sick and we die.
That this happens is inevitable, how this happens for each individual is unknown.
A great deal of the detail of this trajectory of our life is influenced by our genetic make up. We may be more predisposed towards some illnesses or tendencies than others. Our chances of having a heart attack, developing cancer, or being mentally may be higher or lower than other people. These tendencies are encoded in the genetic make up given to us by our parents.
You didn’t get a chance to choose your parents (and neither did they).
You didn’t ask for your particular genetic make up.
You got what you got – It’s not your fault.
Your social origins are not your fault
Your were born at the time in history you were born (you didn’t choose that), into your family (you didn’t choose that), in a particular place (you didn’t choose that), in a particular culture (you didn’t choose that either).
All these factors have a huge impact on your life experience.
If you grew up in a slum in Calcutta you will have had very different experiences from some one who grew up in Inuit settlement in the Arctic, a mining village in South Wales or a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles.
These experiences make a difference. Your family, your neighbourhood your culture all have a huge influence on your physical, mental and emotional development.
You didn’t choose any of that – It’s not your fault.
Does this let me off the hook?
So if none of that is my fault can I do whatever I want and blame my brain, the genetic lottery or my upbringing.
No, I don’t think so.
All those things had an impact. Your evolved brain, genetic and social inheritance modify the way you react and respond to what happens in your life. It forms the physical, mental and emotional landscape of your life.
It’s as if you have been parachuted into a landscape with all it’s threats and possibilities. The landscape you arrived in had been formed over eons by countless forces that were not your fault either. You didn’t have any choice where you would land, that’s not your fault, but here you are: like it or not.
Now that you are here, what you do now?
Where you go from here is your responsibility.
What you do from now on is down to you.
You can stand still if you want to.
Or, you can rant at the landscape for being the way it is.
Or, you can wait to be rescued.
Or, you can decide which direction you want to go in and start taking steps.
What you do next is your responsibility, and so is what you do after that.
So, what are you going to do next?Image courtesy of peasap