Its Your Fault

70toppsoj

At Barnes & Noble at Union Square a cop approached me, “Sir?” right after I walked in. When a cop approaches you so many things go through your mind. The guy clearly had a gun. Somehow I was in trouble. I touched a book. Maybe he thought I would steal it. It brought back memories of being nine years old, the store manager at the Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby Shop asking me to go into the back-office so they could “arrest” me for hiding six packs of football cards in my winter-coat. I was guilty then so I must be guilty now.

“Sir?” He was clearly NYPD and not bookstore security. It said, “Police Department” on a blue patch on his shirt.

 

Its your fault

“Yes?”

“Are you James..I don’t remember your last name. You write about stocks?”

I actually felt relief. You can discount psychology all you want, but something deep from my childhood had me scared for a second. So I smiled. Now I was the man. I WAS THE COP.

“Yeah. yeah I am.”

I used to daytrade, he told me. Then I lost 10,000 dollars when some guy told me about a stock.

Uh-oh. Now I was scared again. A man with a gun just came up to me, identified me by name, and told me about a guy (possibly me) who told him about a stock and then his entire daytrading career was ruined. I knew for sure the odds were zero he was going to shoot me in that bookstore. But still.

What was the stock?

I forget, he said, some oil stock. I’ll try to remember. I like your stuff. But man, the most I ever made on a day was 5,000. Then that one day, losing 10,000. It was too much for me. I should never have listened to that guy.

Stop it, I should’ve said.

It was your fault.

You did listen to him. You bought that stock.

Its your fault.
She did cheat on you. He did lie to your face. She did never call you back. They never were going to refinance your house.

Its your fault.

You listened to those guys on that investment opportunity. You put your money in. You went to all the meetings. You did all the due diligence. You did the background checks. They stole the money. Now you are suing them and they are declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying you. Your ex-husband stopped paying child support. Your parents didn’t love you. That girl you loved so much you would’ve killed for her had an abortion and then dumped you.

Its all your fault.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I’ve lost a lot of money at different points. I was encouraged to sue my broker. I was encouraged to sue the companies. I was encouraged to mourn the loss of the money as if I were mourning the loss of a loved one and then move on. I didn’t do any of those things. It was my fault.

“Here’s the advice I have for my ex, Sarah”, my friend was about to tell me. Sarah was dumping him. Or he was dumping her. I couldn’t even pretend to be interested and he knows who he is as he reads this. He wanted to tell me his advice for her.

“I don’t care,” I said. “Your advice is going to make no sense and no matter what she did, you deserve whatever it is you got, I assume you had a horrible weekend with her where you guys broke hearts, and one person cried on the floor, and you both scratched each other, and remembered three good moments from years ago, and fought, and screamed, and tore, and police were called on. I don’t care what she did. You’re no good for her and its your fault.”

How can you say that? he said.

Because what do you have to offer? What advice can you possibly give her that can help? She’s better than you.

And why did you listen to your friend’s stock advice? Why did you listen to anyone? And why did you think suing someone can solve your happiness and give you a better life? And why do you give advice. You go on the toilet like everyone else. You’re an animal made of dirt and skin and tiny bacteria crawling all over you, and diseases and infections you don’t even know about it. And maybe even small tumors that are now starting to pop up in your brain but too small to see in a test. And when people walk down the street you think to yourself, I’m glad I’m not them. And you don’t even know them. You think, I’m so glad I’m not going home to whatever lousy life they have.

But who even cares what you think?

And what about you? Why are you always blaming the government for all of your problems? Who cares about bailouts and Goldman Sachs and “the Bernank” and all the CEOs who are firing everyone while taking mega-millions in salaries. You think they are so happy? Dick Fuld blames Jamie Dimon who blames Hank Paulson who probably blames Bush who blames Bernanke who blames Andrew Cuomo who blames Bill Clinton who probably blames Hilary but is scared to say it. Every day all I hear from you is about the government and the banks and Obama. BORING. If it bothers you so much, don’t read that blog. Don’t open that newspaper. Turn off the TV. You’re wrong all the time so just start doing the opposite of what you’ve always been doing.

For once, for just once, take responsibility for your own actions Take responsibility for your anger, for your sadness, for you poverty, for your failures. Once you do that, that’s step one. Step two is: “become the luckiest person”. I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m agenda-less. Write me and I’ll give you my book for free. I want you to be happier. Just admit it. It’s your fault. And life isn’t going to be better until you say it out loud.

You’re a cop, not a day trader. Catch some bad guys. I can make the list again and again of what I’ve lost, who I’ve lost. The time I’ve spent. The people I’ve left behind. The money thats gone. The friendships that melted. Its all my fault. If I describe how much of it was my fault it would be breathtaking in its scope. How many smiles have I callously thrown away because of blaming others. Its my fault.

Ok.

Take a deep breath. You’re three years old. You like to bounce a ball. You throw it down. It comes back up. You throw it down. It comes back up. You’re happy. Your mommy just got you the ball. It was the day after you accidentally went in your pants in nursery school and they had to send you home. You cried. Your mom got you the ball. The ball has swirls of color on it. You throw it down with one hand. It comes right back up. You catch it with the other hand. You’re so happy. If you’re lucky, maybe one day you can be that happy again.

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  • Anonymous

    Home run, James. Home run.

    A painful and wonderful reminder to know thyself.

  • Anonymous

    Phenomenal post. Cutting. Poignant. Relevant. Lucid. There is a 50% chance after I read every one of your posts I think to myself… this guy is good!

  • AnonAlien

    Agree. I took that on like a full-time job and I could not believe I am blessed with my current relationship, which is starting to look like a long-term one. ‘Unfortunately’, we get too many curious stares and I am not entirely comfortable with that. She’s hot and I am an average Joe.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ha, I know the feeling. I’m below average and my wife is above.

      • UraniumC

        every time I gaze at my beautiful and talented wife I thank god she has poor taste in men.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joanie-Levine-Baumrind/706966829 Joanie Levine Baumrind

    another amazing blog

  • Paul

    The need to assign blame is only necessary once we feel wronged. The “good” and “bad” of events is established via judgment prior to culpability. The objective truth is that it is no one’s fault.

    • Paul

      Also James we’re a lot alike, you have issues with authority just like I do. ;)

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Ha, I guess thats right. I do have issues with authority.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianLockhart Brian Lockhart

    Great post. Your neurons aligned perfectly this morning, good thing you had a keyboard handy. Whatever you did earlier today / whatever’s in your coffee, write it down and strive to repeat it. :)

  • Kjp712

    I ran into a guy the other day in the Supermarket.Around 2 years ago I gave him advice not to change his 401K plan enen though he was down 25,000 at the time.Apparently he took my advice and is now up 10,000.He thanked me at least 5 times.The smile on his whole family’s faces made my day.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Wow, blame is common but thank-yous are rare. Well, thanks for sharing that and congrats on helping him.

  • Amadeus

    Funny that your post today coincides with a blame game I’ve been going through for years now. I’m feeling compelled to sell stock options today that don’t expire until June, fearing it’ll be another dismal after-hours earnings report that will again decimate Cisco’s (my employer) stock price. I’ve been blaming myself for not selling these at ten-fold their value back in 2007. Or even 5-fold. Even 2-fold. It doesn’t matter. It’s my fault! I was given the luxury of these benefits. I didn’t manage them well. I didn’t heed the advice of some. I deserve it. I’m not perfect. It’s my fault. It’s my fault for believing and trusting deceitful grownups.

    I’m reminded of this on a quarterly basis. The outside world knocks at my door, whether I invite it or not. Having never had stock options in past jobs, I came to believe I somehow earned them as our CEO proclaimed them as reward to individuals for great achievement. Not! Stupid me. It’s my fault.

    I wasn’t greedy. I never imagined driving a fancy sports car or showing off any wealth it might have resulted in. I thought these options might someday help pay for my kids’ college or bring some security in retirement. Instead, I’m being reminding again of what it means to believe and trust other grownups. I believed and trusted Bernanke’s comments about it being a 6 month recovery in 2008. I believed and trusted our CEO’s comments about how we were better positioned than ever to beat the competition coming out of this recession. I believed and trusted what I read about holding onto options as long as possible, especially for “sound” tech companies. It’s these outside factors that other human beings herald that make for unhappiness.

    I never have these kinds of animosities towards animals (we have 3 cats, a dog, and now 2 fish thanks to my wife) or young children. It’s a shame you don’t have pets b/c you’d get to know and see they project the same beautiful innocence as young children do. They nip and scratch you when you deserve it. They let you know their honest feelings every iota of their existence.

    The reason a 3 year old can enjoy playing with a ball is because they live in a bubble of trust created and nurtured by their parent(s). They can have the free soul to enjoy the simple things in life because they’re sheltered (a good thing in this case). But erode this bubble, which the real world eventually does, regardless, and they evolve into the cautious, less trusting, and eventually more dissatisfied grownups we become. It’s ironic that paths to happiness, including your recommendations, means recognizing our personal being for what it is and identifying and filtering out the noise … essentially learning to shelter ourselves from the things that make us unhappy. And this is ongoing b/c the outside world knocks at our door, often when we least expect or want it.

  • mmmark

    Thanks James. I spent a few years of my life blaming my ex-wife, blaming my ex-bosses, blaming Bush and his cronies, blaming the mortgage industry corrupters… they all just seemed to hit me at once and brought me down during the years after 2005.

    But of course, I could have taken actions that would have put me in a better place BEFORE all my crises hit. I didn’t. I didn’t do it and I paid the price. Oh well.

    We can only move forward. The blame game is lame. We suffer and look for reasons, and in most cases the reason is us (tsunamis and random violence possibly excepted).

    Eventually it becomes clear. In the meantime, buy insurance.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I spent a couple of years on an investor email list where every day there would be new diatribe against the banks or the bailouts and every day someone would shout out some investments they were making. they were all losing money but it was constant blame against the game that was “rigged”. Well, if you ALWAYS know that the game is rigged, then just bet on the side of the people who are rigging. Instead they kept doing the blame game.

      My problem is I stayed on the list too long. I kept arguing with them. And then they would argue back. It was almost like getting into a random bar fight where I was huegly outnumbered. Finally I took control of my own actions and got off the list. Added incrementally to my overall happiness. If we keep adding in increments like that, though, then we end up happy overall.

  • Brad

    James, I read a book many moons ago that
    you might like titled “Napkin Notes: On the Art of Living.” It’s basically your blog post, with more words. I think I’ll try to dig my copy out of the basement and give it a re-read.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Brad, hmm, it sounds familiar. i will check it out. Thanks!

  • Sooz

    **” Personal happiness without compassion for others, and without gratitude is useless.”

    So true , hundred, so very very true! Other people’s weaknesses can often become your strength.

  • Sooz

    Your timing is often impeccable!
    Thanks, J.A., as always..

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Now you have to tell us, Sooz, how the timing is impeccable.

      • Sooz

        can I take a pass for today?

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Well….ok :)

  • Aaron

    Damn James, you’re bleeding raw. You’re last 2 posts are taking it up a notch. You’re an inspiration.

  • Jeanne

    Another great post James! I was just pondering blame and “being right” this morning due to an unpleasant interaction that I had. Most people HAVE to be right. It provides some sort of sustenance for the ego or something. It’s like, instead of being animals living in the wild and stalking our prey to satisfy our physical hunger, we stalk each others minds to see where we can “one up” each other and satisfy our ego’s hunger for validation. Every time we’re “right” it feeds something in us.

    • Cgoody2shoes

      Jeanne, for a lot of people, being right is a way to avoid fear.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      yeah, there’s the “have to be RIGHT” syndrome that a lot of people have. Sometimes the best thing to do right then and there is to say, “ok, I have to take a break” and just move away. And stay away until RIGHT fades away.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ottotromm Otto Tromm

    You’re six years old. Go walking in the woods with your parents every Sunday. While they follow the tracks, you create your own path while running.

    You’ll never feel as free, powerful and happy at the same time again. You’ll only realise it years later.

    Otto

  • http://twitter.com/MistrssNerissa Mistress Nerissa

    Inspiring as usual…and right on the money. So many people choose to go through life believing they are victims of circumstance without realizing that one of God’s greatest gifts to humans was the gift of free-will. We may not be able to control everything around us, and we may make some bad decisions (or good decisions with bad outcomes), but by choosing to take responsibility for them and choosing where to go from here…that is empowering. It is that quality that separates the successes from the failures. Edison is credited with the original quote, but since there is some controversy surrounding whether or not he really said it, I’ll paraphrase…when you try and do not succeed, you’re not failing, you’re only learning how NOT to do it. There are so many pithy witticisms out there which say something similar, but for some reason, when it comes to money…it is so much easier to blame someone else. So, thanks for being kind enough to point out that I’m responsible for my situation. Thankfully, that’s ALL I’m responsible for!

    • Anonymous

      I saw a good book title..another pithy witticism..

      “Failing Forward”

      I like that concept, do you? It makes me feel like I am still progressing.

      One of my bosses used to say:

      “Hurry up and do something so we can fix it”

      I like that as well.

    • Anonymous

      I saw a good book title..another pithy witticism..

      “Failing Forward”

      I like that concept, do you? It makes me feel like I am still progressing.

      One of my bosses used to say:

      “Hurry up and do something so we can fix it”

      I like that as well.

    • Anonymous

      I saw a good book title..another pithy witticism..

      “Failing Forward”

      I like that concept, do you? It makes me feel like I am still progressing.

      One of my bosses used to say:

      “Hurry up and do something so we can fix it”

      I like that as well.

  • Paul

    It’s all your fault?

    Yep, no doubt about it!

    You’re Jewish!

  • LD

    I once thought everything was my fault and spent most of my time trying not to upset anyone. Then I realized you can only truly be responsible for your own actions (…and your pets). I have been much happier since! I recently found this blog and really enjoy it!

  • http://profiles.google.com/cmhanks Christopher Hanks

    Thank you James. I have both personal and professional “issues” hanging over my head right now. Spent most of the morning procrastinating and feeling sorry for myself until this landed in my inbox. Lethargy gone – it is my fault, and it is also my responsibility to make it better. I was able to get a full quarter of my to-do list done in an hour after reading this.

    Thank you for kicking me in the ass right when i needed it. Cant wait for the book.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cmhanks Christopher Hanks

    Thank you James. I have both personal and professional “issues” hanging over my head right now. Spent most of the morning procrastinating and feeling sorry for myself until this landed in my inbox. Lethargy gone – it is my fault, and it is also my responsibility to make it better. I was able to get a full quarter of my to-do list done in an hour after reading this.

    Thank you for kicking me in the ass right when i needed it. Cant wait for the book.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Chris, did you send me a note requesting the book? Please do.

      • http://profiles.google.com/cmhanks Christopher Hanks

        Didn’t send you anything – went onto Amazon and ordered it after reading this, that is what the “cant wait” comment was speaking to. You deserve to be paid for the book, and I am happy to buy it.

      • http://profiles.google.com/cmhanks Christopher Hanks

        Didn’t send you anything – went onto Amazon and ordered it after reading this, that is what the “cant wait” comment was speaking to. You deserve to be paid for the book, and I am happy to buy it.

      • http://profiles.google.com/cmhanks Christopher Hanks

        Didn’t send you anything – went onto Amazon and ordered it after reading this, that is what the “cant wait” comment was speaking to. You deserve to be paid for the book, and I am happy to buy it.

  • http://twitter.com/joshiav Ameya Joshi

    So its interesting – I’m reading this book called “The Fifth Discipline” which basically discussed the importance of Systems Thinking.

    Right after reading James post, come across this passage in the book: “There is no blame: We tend to blame outside circumstances for our problems. … Systems thinking shows us that there is no outside; that you and the cause of your problems are part of a single system. The cure lies in your relationship with your “enemy” “.

    Had to share that ! Thanks James, great post as always.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks Ameya. This is the second time today I’ve heard of that book. I’m going to look it up.

  • http://twitter.com/joshiav Ameya Joshi

    So its interesting – I’m reading this book called “The Fifth Discipline” which basically discussed the importance of Systems Thinking.

    Right after reading James post, come across this passage in the book: “There is no blame: We tend to blame outside circumstances for our problems. … Systems thinking shows us that there is no outside; that you and the cause of your problems are part of a single system. The cure lies in your relationship with your “enemy” “.

    Had to share that ! Thanks James, great post as always.

  • Kevin M

    This is quickly (after about a week of reading) becoming my favorite blog. This entry is just fantastic. I too was caught stealing – baseball cards – so I can identify with the cop approaching you and all that. I have to know, were you the guy he referred to about the stock tip?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Its scary, that moment when they come for you. And you know you’re guilty. And my parents saying “this is on your permanent record.” And the store manager saying “you’re not welcome back here”. Even now , 30+ years later, when i pass that store, i feel like I’m not allowed back in.

      And no, i wasnt the guy w the tip.

      • Kevin M

        Funny end to my story, a few year later I went to work at that store. Some sort of weird penance I guess. I’m not sure if the store manager remembered me or not.

  • Kevin M

    This is quickly (after about a week of reading) becoming my favorite blog. This entry is just fantastic. I too was caught stealing – baseball cards – so I can identify with the cop approaching you and all that. I have to know, were you the guy he referred to about the stock tip?

  • Wcurl25

    AWEsome . . . just awesome

  • Mahesh

    James,

    One of my friend always says ‘Expectation is cause of all the sorrows’. and my favorite one is ‘Happiness is what we make it’

    as always, couldn’t wait for your next blog

    Thanks

    Mahesh

  • Kievy

    Can I get a free copy of the book? Please.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Send me email thru the contact page and I’ll send a free PDF. trying to figure out how to automate the process also.

      • Kievy

        Thank You.

        • Kievy

          i’m starting to feel lucky already.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=555277061 Felix Schmieder

        Easiest way to automate it, James, is get an auto-responder service like aweber.  Then people sign up and you can automatically email them with the pdf file once they confirm they signed up

  • Peeceebee

    You’re so evolved. I know some people who lost jobs, homes and marriages over the shenanigans of
    Blankfein and his friends but I’ll pass on your zen wisdoms to them. “It’s your fault. Let it go. Make lemonade. etc” If I run across any Holocaust survivors, I’ll tell them the same thing. Cheers!

    • i.

      Most of the Holocaust survivors I’ve met (including my father), were not bitter people but participated fully in, and loved, life.  Yes, they carried emotional scars but blaming was not their modus operandi.  And I don’t believe that we have control over everything that happens to us in life — I disagree with James’ harshness that everything is “your fault”.  I don’t believe that everyone who loses a job, especially due to macroeconomic factors beyond their control, is to blame for their unemployment.  Stuff happens, and it’s arrogant to think that we can predict everything or avoid disappointment, wrong moves, all the time.  But we do have control over how we respond to circumstances, whether we’ve helped to create them or not. It’s more about cultivating responsibility for our inner landscape all the time, no matter what is happening.  Even people unlucky enough to survive war, torture, starvation, etc. can still choose their internal experience.

  • http://twitter.com/stephenguise Stephen Guise

    This is a masterpiece. James, I enjoy it most when you take off the sugar coating and replace it with some form of bitter reality coating. It tastes worse at first, but makes you appreciate the inside more. So what if that analogy failed? I had fun making it.

    My faults…
    It’s my fault for believing college was the best path to take.
    It’s my fault that I’m not married yet (I’m just 25, but I want a freaking companion!)
    It’s my fault for the US debt load…ok, not that one

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ha, funny. Well, a couple of comments:
      A) you were young when you decided to go to college. but I hope you are not in a lot of debt as a result. Thats not fun.
      B) you are very young if you want to be married. But, if you want that companion then you have to work at it almost like a fulltime job. Stop hanging out with the guys after work in random bars. Go to: yoga, tango classes, painting classes, around the clock. And use jdate or eharmony to fill up any free moments after that. It takes WORK.
      C) I never even think of the US debt load. As long as I can eat two good meals a day, the US can have as much debt as it wants.

  • http://twitter.com/mikeschinkel Mike Schinkel

    Damn, you are so right! It’s just all my fault.

    And you know what? I’m a happier man because I recognize that.

  • PatD

    Guilt and Blame…
    2 very volitile emotions and topics…
    probably most of our experiences with those 2 dynamic issues…stem from childhood…
    hold our parents responsible..???
    I vote ..No…
    When I made my first Holy Communion…(a major rite of passage @ age 7) for those who arent familiar…
    I had to ‘practice’ my Confession….I had all my sins written down and I knew them by heart…
    so when my time came to enter the confessional…(actually a precurser to the now-detested cubicle)
    I confessed to committing Adultery several times…
    and for that I had to say several rosaries….

    was I being Pre-Absolved for future sins ??? HaHa
    I have always found it interesting…that @ the ripe old age of 7 …I felt guilt and remorse for a topic of which I had no concept .
    @kennyshen:disqus Maybe we should all just know….that when we were 7 years old …we had to ‘make up’
    our shortcomings….
    we are still those same people…and we pay for our flaws now with much more than a few prayers on bended knees..
    If this doesnt keep us true to ourselves….nothing will….

    Thankx James A. for once again…raising a topic that asks each us who read it….to search within

  • Anonymous

    James,
    I stumbled upon your blog about a month ago and love your insights. I just got your book today and enjoyed reading it.

    I have an important question for you. You talk a lot about the side effects of being in business like the stress and worries, etc. Before diving into business ventures, were you an anxious person or does all that crap come with the multi-million dollar deals?

    Keep up the good work..

    John

  • BamBam

    I think it’s possible to take responsibility for your mistakes and miscalculations, while still seeking retribution against those who’ve done you wrong.

  • Dgarber906

    When we lose our excuses and take responsibility for our actions, adulthood begins.

    Most people never get it.

    “Hi. My name is xxxxxxxxx and it’s my fault…”

  • http://www.parmcharm.com karen parmelee

    A very strong and compelling post about taking responsibility in order to take control of ones life – nothing to argue with about that. I stop short just a little as I recall the scene in “Good Will Hunting” where Robin Williams as a psychiatrist, breaks down Matt Damon’s character by pressing the idea that [all the abuse that he was subjected to as a kid was] “not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.” I still cry when I watch that film, and feel the shame and pain I held. Is there room for both truths, as you see it?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Completely. Its only when you say can’t move on: from a relationship, from a financial situation, from a whatever, “because so-and-so” did this. Somestimes, deep down, internally, we can’t move forward because maybe, say, we didn’t get the love we required as a child. We can’t BLAME the parents (they had their own issues. They weren’t loved either), but we still have to learn how to move forward in life without every day making “I can’t do this because they did this to me” our mantra”. I think this key is simply not having the above as a mantra for failure, which all too many people have.

  • VB

    great point but people develop as part of survivorship big ‘Its not my fault’ cushions and i guess for some or many its a life long struggle either to retain or offload this baggage. should be interesting as a topic – world beyond baggage. do send me the book..

  • VB

    great point but people develop as part of survivorship big ‘Its not my fault’ cushions and i guess for some or many its a life long struggle either to retain or offload this baggage. should be interesting as a topic – world beyond baggage. do send me the book..

  • VB

    great point but people develop as part of survivorship big ‘Its not my fault’ cushions and i guess for some or many its a life long struggle either to retain or offload this baggage. should be interesting as a topic – world beyond baggage. do send me the book..

  • VB

    great point but people develop as part of survivorship big ‘Its not my fault’ cushions and i guess for some or many its a life long struggle either to retain or offload this baggage. should be interesting as a topic – world beyond baggage. do send me the book..

  • Anonymous

    James:

    This post should be a scene in a movie-

    Where you are a substitute teacher at a high school and you are telling these stories to kids

    who perk up since they know you have had some success in the real world.

    You should write a movie script that is full of these kinds of lessons.

    I’m not sure what to call the movie…maybe something like

    Altucher’s Dream

    or

    Life Altucher

    you know a wall street drama type thing that is real life and funny and tragic

    and filled with success and money and love and real life as well.

    another scene could be acne vulgaris

    another scene could be getting a check after selling a company

  • Anonymous

    James:

    This post should be a scene in a movie-

    Where you are a substitute teacher at a high school and you are telling these stories to kids

    who perk up since they know you have had some success in the real world.

    You should write a movie script that is full of these kinds of lessons.

    I’m not sure what to call the movie…maybe something like

    Altucher’s Dream

    or

    Life Altucher

    you know a wall street drama type thing that is real life and funny and tragic

    and filled with success and money and love and real life as well.

    another scene could be acne vulgaris

    another scene could be getting a check after selling a company

  • Anonymous

    James:

    This post should be a scene in a movie-

    Where you are a substitute teacher at a high school and you are telling these stories to kids

    who perk up since they know you have had some success in the real world.

    You should write a movie script that is full of these kinds of lessons.

    I’m not sure what to call the movie…maybe something like

    Altucher’s Dream

    or

    Life Altucher

    you know a wall street drama type thing that is real life and funny and tragic

    and filled with success and money and love and real life as well.

    another scene could be acne vulgaris

    another scene could be getting a check after selling a company

  • TBF

    Wow, that took guts.

    I can still remember an argument with a singer-actress I was involved with: it was like getting hit by a hurricane. I could feel the anger boiling up, and I was desperately trying to get my things and get out of her apartment: the effort to repress it was making me shake so badly I was dropping my things.

    I’m not sure why, but I felt that if the energy made up past my neck, I was going to lose it and hit a woman for the first time in my life. But somehow I made it out.

    The next day, when we were calm, we talked, and I had to tell her: this is why your last 2 boyfriends hit you. You provoked them. I’m not easy to provoke, and you pushed me to the edge of violence.

    You’ve got to see your part in this or it can happen again.

    Well, it happened again (not by me). After that, she got it.

    Last I heard, it hadn’t happened since.

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      We all have more control of our lives than we like to think because if we recognize how much control we have then we have to recognize the fact that fixing our shit is going to be a lot of work. It is much easier to blame the big bad wolf than it is to sit down and really think about how you got where you are and how do you get somewhere else. 

      The vast majority of our problems are absolutely our fault. Looking back on my entire life there are really only two major incidents in my life I claim no responsibility for. The first was a brain tumor I was diagnosed with at the age of twenty. The second is the time I was on a bus and it rolled over at highway speeds. Perhaps James will find a way to make those my fault too, but I feel pretty exempt from blame on those two. 

  • Fubar

    re: both truths / systems theory

    Excellent stuff.

    There are really four truths:

    The “three faces of god”*, plus “systems”.

    “Paradigm absolutism” happens when all truth is collapsed into only one of the four.

    James Hillman does a great job of describing the “pathology” of modern america that “blames everything on the individual”.

    http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/hillman.html

    excerpts:

    I am attacking the theories of psychotherapy. You don’t attack the grunts of Vietnam; you blame the theory behind the war. Nobody who fought in that war was at fault. It was the war itself that was at fault. It’s the same thing with psychotherapy. It makes every problem a subjective, inner problem. And that’s not where the problems come from. They come from the environment, the cities, the economy, the racism. They come from architecture, school systems, capitalism, exploitation. They come from many places that psychotherapy does not address. Psychotherapy theory turns it all on you: you are the one who is wrong. What I’m trying to say is that, if a kid is having trouble or is discouraged, the problem is not just inside the kid; it’s also in the system, the society.

    … But I don’t think anything changes until ideas change. The usual American viewpoint is to believe that something is wrong with the person. We approach people the same way we approach our cars. We take the poor kid to a doctor and ask, “What’s wrong with him, how much will it cost, and when can I pick him up?” We can’t change anything until we get some fresh ideas, until we begin to see things differently. My goal is to create a therapy of ideas, to try to bring in new ideas so that we can see the same old problems differently.

    I’ve found that contemporary psychology enrages me with its simplistic ideas of human life, and also its emptiness. In the cosmology that’s behind psychology, there is no reason for anyone to be here or do anything.

    we worship the idea of the “self-made man”
    …worship of individuality.

    But the culture is going into a psychological depression. We are concerned about our place in the world, about being competitive: Will my children have as much as I have? Will I ever own my own home? How can I pay for a new car? Are immigrants taking away my white world? All of this anxiety and depression casts doubt on whether I can make it as a heroic John Wayne-style individual.

    I think what I’m saying should … make them want to pay more attention to their child, this peculiar stranger who has landed in their midst. Instead of saying, “This is my child,” they must ask, “Who is this child who happens to be mine?” Then they will gain a lot more respect for the child and try to keep an eye open for instances where the kid’s destiny might show itself — like in a resistance to school, for example, or a strange set of symptoms one year, or an obsession with one thing or another. Maybe something very important is going on there that the parents didn’t see before.

    … Symptoms are so often seen as weaknesses.

    … so they set up some sort of medical or psychotherapeutic program to get rid of them, when the symptoms may be the most crucial part of the kid. There are many stories in my book that illustrate this.

    I just read about John Le Carre, the great spy novelist. He had an absolutely miserable childhood. His mother deserted him when he was young. His father was a playboy and a drunk. He was shifted around to many different homes. He knew he was a writer when he was about nine, but he was dyslexic. So here was a person with an absolutely messed-up childhood and a symptom that prevented him from doing what he wanted to do most. Yet that very symptom was part of the calling. It forced him to go deeper. Any symptom can force you to go deeper into some area.

    But as the popular trust in science fades — and many sociologists say that’s happening today — people will develop a distrust of purely “scientific” psychology. Researchers in the universities haven’t picked up on this; they’re more interested in genetics and computer models of thinking than ever. But, in general, there is a huge distrust of the scientific establishment now.

    *
    http://integrallife.com/editorial/three-faces-god

    Brother David Steindl-Rast

    Brother David Steindl-Rast has been a practicing Benedictine monk for over half a century and was one of the first Vatican-sanctioned delegates to participate in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He is a recipient of the Martin Buber Award, and serves as a senior member of the Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, New York.

    Written by Corey W. deVos
    Just as human beings intrinsically possess 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person perspectives of the world, so do we possess those same perspectives in our experience of spirituality. And while these dimensions of the divine can be found in just about any spiritual lineage—Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Islam, etc.—many of these traditions only explicitly emphasize one or two of these perspectives, resulting in one or more important aspects of spirituality often being left out of their conceptions of God.

  • AnonAlien

    I read this article as beyond merely dealing with the outcome. It reaches into the further step of re-evaluation. If the responsibility can be transferred away, we may fail to look within to see how we can avoid the same thing the next time.. even if it is ostensibly not your fault.

    Late last year, I disconnected from everyone. I left all social networks. I would only reply if contacted directly. Nobody was at fault for anything. I just felt an urge to reject the comfort of company. A move that forced me back to the drawing board.

    A month or so later, I was healthier, and my income went up three folds. I made money I did not need; I was doing things I wanted to do. I could manage everything better and I found myself in a healthy relationship too. I meet up with friends more regularly, and our interactions are more real than ever. I am currently in the limbo of one job offer versus another potential one. I may have lost some people, but I do favour my expanded internal space.

    I don’t presume that to be the crown of it all, and I am not assuming that I have got it right. Never did, and knowing myself, I won’t ever feel complete. But I do feel more positive than before. Is this creating your own luck? Maybe.

    Shit still happens, but I don’t want the same shit happening again.

  • Fubar

    More on Hillman’s ideas:

    http://www.cejournal.org/GRD/neville.htm


    Where third order schooling aims at dependence and fourth order thinking aims at independence, fifth order thinking aims at interdependence.

    Where third order schooling focuses on transmitted knowledge and fourth order education focuses on discovering the truth, fifth order schooling seeks a plurality of understandings. Where third order learning is passive and receptive and fourth order thinking is critical and active, fifth order learning is creative and constructive. Where third order curriculum emphasizes received truth and fourth order curriculum seeks to discover universal principles, fifth order curriculum celebrates a diversity of incomplete (and even contradictory) truths.

    Where third order education is founded on historically based assumptions about race, gender, class and cultural difference, and fourth order education maintains a socially critical perspective, fifth order education seeks to be aperspectival, or at least multi-perspectival. Even the socially critical perspective is relatives as one perspective among many.

    Where third order education is grounded in a way of imagining the world and fourth order education is grounded in thinking about it, fifth order education integrates first order body, second order emotion, third order image and fourth order thought in an holistic experience and expression of what it means to be human in this world.
    Where third order schooling is community-centric and fourth order schooling is ego-centric, fifth order schooling is eco-centric and transpersonal. It is sustained by an emerging ability to perceive not only “my truth and “your truth” as each incomplete without the other, but even “me” and “you” as each incomplete without the other.

    The role of information technology is central to this. It both enables and demands the dissolution of boundaries, the development of transegoic consciousness, the transcendence of rational, linear, dualistic thinking and the constraints of quantified space and time. It both enables and demands the emergence of an holistic, eco-centric, process-oriented, constructivist curriculum. It both enables and demands a new way of thinking both from students and their teachers.

  • amrithaa2011

    hi, how can i follow…???

    http://www.amrithaa.com

  • http://rodolfogrimaldi.com Daniel Mihai Popescu

    You made two new fans, we enjoy a lot this blog and how you give life to things. Of course, not all the people have to agree, but we like your approach. About fault here, you’re absolutely right. It is your fault when things happened, it’s a matter of realizing or continuing to lie to yourself, :)

    @RodolfoGrimaldi:twitter

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Ha, thanks Sooz.

    I called Mr. Altucher the “Dear Abby” of Stocktwits.

    -DT

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I like super balls. They bounce like 70 feet in the air, but if you were wetting your pants most likely you were a bit too young for a super ball.

    But those summer balls, pink swirl, blue swirl, green swirl and multi-colored swirl, in the huge crates at Target always make me smile. To this day, I can’t go past those displays without taking one out and bouncing it around.

    On my to do list for today. :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I was wetting my pants until a very old age unfortunately. So believe me, super balls were in the mix.

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        awe man that is really sad….

        (but I laughed when I read it) :)

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    Great take on taking responsibility for *everything* in your life. I like it.

  • Fluffy

    Yesterday at sunset I bought a supposedly illegal (NYC) wine flavored cigar and was walking down the street smoking it when a black guy came out of a store with a straw hanging out of each ear and an unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He gestured to the cigarette. I started digging in my bag. “It’s here somewhere,” I mutter. I find and give him my book of matches. He takes it, makes the “thumbs up” gesture. I make the thumbs up gesture. We go our separate ways. I feel good about being the kind of guy who silent black guys with ear straws can interact with on the street. I feel good about earning a salary and maybe even helping people sometimes. The sky is really beautiful right about then.

    The ball comes up and I catch it sometimes.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Wow, I never heard of that before. Where in NYC did you buy it?

  • Fluffy

    Yesterday at sunset I bought a supposedly illegal (NYC) wine flavored cigar and was walking down the street smoking it when a black guy came out of a store with a straw hanging out of each ear and an unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He gestured to the cigarette. I started digging in my bag. “It’s here somewhere,” I mutter. I find and give him my book of matches. He takes it, makes the “thumbs up” gesture. I make the thumbs up gesture. We go our separate ways. I feel good about being the kind of guy who silent black guys with ear straws can interact with on the street. I feel good about earning a salary and maybe even helping people sometimes. The sky is really beautiful right about then.

    The ball comes up and I catch it sometimes.

  • Fluffy

    Yesterday at sunset I bought a supposedly illegal (NYC) wine flavored cigar and was walking down the street smoking it when a black guy came out of a store with a straw hanging out of each ear and an unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He gestured to the cigarette. I started digging in my bag. “It’s here somewhere,” I mutter. I find and give him my book of matches. He takes it, makes the “thumbs up” gesture. I make the thumbs up gesture. We go our separate ways. I feel good about being the kind of guy who silent black guys with ear straws can interact with on the street. I feel good about earning a salary and maybe even helping people sometimes. The sky is really beautiful right about then.

    The ball comes up and I catch it sometimes.

  • http://www.redwooddesign.com Liske

    Your on fire James.

  • LS

    Great post.

    It simply amazes me how people refuse to take control of their own lives.
    Although it is something I continually struggle with, taking responsibility for your own life is one of the best and most empowering feelings. 

    I will never forget the moment I came to this realization. I was in college and my mother’s favorite pastime was controlling me with her pocketbook. I was majoring in what she told me to major in and going home when she told me to. One day, after years of anger and misery, I woke up and said enough was enough. I got a better job, began drinking cheaper liquor, and never (or at least rarely) took anything from her again. That was the best feeling in the world, unfortunately it was too late to change my major. However, I did graduate without any debt! 

  • Milk, Cream, & Alcohol

    reminds me of an old John Lee Hooker song “Serve me right to suffer. Serve me right to be alone. You see I’m living in the memory Of a day that has passed and gone.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAmw6xq3FqY

  • Pete

    Do we need to have a benchmark for honesty?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QAQZQ63L26FNAGYSOUBIL6XXIQ kjp712

    Wonder how OJ is doing in Prison? It has been Quiet.

  • Charles

    Fantastic writing.  I enjoy this blog immensely.

    On a side note, I think maybe it should be “It’s your fault” with an apostrophe.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, I tend to be lazy on the apostrophes. Thanks very much. 

  • http://twitter.com/Periboob Peri Boob

    Too much blaming others can result in paranoia–“it’s ALL THEIR FAULT”. But, I would argue that one should be careful in taking responsibility for one’s life. It is a very short step from “taking the blame for the bad”, to “taking credit for the good”. I think we should realize that we are largely pawns of fate. I like to think of myself as pretty smart, but there is no way that I earned my wonderful life. I got here through luck, but I will take advantage of that luck to achieve my future objectives. My advice, recognize and take the blame for what you have done wrong, and cut the other guy some slack–try to imagine what he has gone through that made him such a turd.

  • sneha

    Well, you brought one more lurker out – great post.

    All my actions & reactions are in my control – to all these I take responsibility. All loved ones’ and strangers’ actions & reactions are beyond my control – I need to let go of those. It is the letting go, I thought, was the hardest part – and that’s why people want a God in their lives. Don’t you think?

    – from India.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, and if not God, they want something to surrender to. It doesn’t have to be an abstract concept. have a discipline that takes you through the day. Surrender to that discipline and know that this discipline will take you through the rough patches. I recommend: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/how-to-be-the-luckiest-guy-on-the-planet-in-4-easy-steps/

  • sneha

    Well, you brought one more lurker out – great post.

    All my actions & reactions are in my control – to all these I take responsibility. All loved ones’ and strangers’ actions & reactions are beyond my control – I need to let go of those. It is the letting go, I thought, was the hardest part – and that’s why people want a God in their lives. Don’t you think?

    – from India.

  • Pauljdavison

    Another excellent Altucherism.

    Cut out the blame game and face the truth -your decisions and actions are your responsibility! 

  • alan

    I feel like I am on reddit…Your links to other articles have me constantly eating at your buffet. It is only the 2nd time I have been on here. ( I am always on an information diet)

    Your writing is amazing. Your non-fiction writing reads as smooth as Harry Potter.

  • Candice Nelms

    damn James, since when did you start owning up!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Hey, maybe since I met such a strong personality such as yourself!

  • John Barton

    Great article, the sentiment is right.  Betcha didn’t say this to the the cop though :-)

  • John Barton

    Everything that happens is not “all your fault”.  But carrying it forever and burdening your friends with it IS your fault.  If you have some life lesson to impart from it then put it out there for anyone who can find it to read and learn from it.  I am (hopefully now was) the poster boy for blaming others for things that went wrong.  Oh I took my share of the blame as well – eventually – but not before looking for anyone else to push it on.  MOST things that go wrong are your fault.  If they weren’t then you would be dead.  Because people cannot continually have bad things happening to them that they are not partially to blame for which are not deadly.

    Think about it.  Take the last ten things that you would consider unfortunate that happened to you?  Either they were inconsequential and you are just being pissy OR they were controllable and you screwed up somewhere.  Or you’d be in the hospitable or dead right now from external causes or suicide due to constantly being harassed by the universe.

  • Barneybarn

    Beautiful.  Just got though a bad break up with a business partner.  I find myself saying things to people like, “not to sound like sour grapes, but if it wasn’t for him…..”  blah, blah.  What an IDIOT I’ve been.  It DOES sound like sour grapes, cause it IS sour grapes.  My partner basically robbed me.  We started a business together with MY money and MY clients and when, after 8 years, I tried to buy him out, he turned the tables and basically forced me out of my own company.  And it wasn’t until I read this article that I realized.  IT’S MY FAULT!  I’M the one who made him my full partner even though he had no money or clients.  And I’M the one who low balled him with the initial buyout deal even though I know he was so competitive that it would make him mad and make him do almost anything to get back at me.  And he did.  It’s my fault.  

    And now that I can say that to myself I think I can make sure I won’t make that same mistake again.  (And if I do, it’ll be my fault again.)

    Thank you!!

  • Mray366

    V. Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the
    opinions about the things: for example, death is nothing terrible, for
    if it were, it would have seemed so to Socrates; for the opinion about
    death, that it is terrible, is the terrible thing. When then we are
    impeded or disturbed or grieved, let us never blame others, but
    ourselves, that is, our opinions. It is the act of an ill-instructed man
    to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has
    begun to be instructed, to lay the blame on himself; and of one whose
    instruction is completed, neither to blame another, nor himself.

    Epictetus – Enchiridion

  • Anonymous

    If it was in your control then it was your fault. It if was truly outside of your control it wasn’t your fault. Either way you have to accept it, forgive your self, maybe someone else- and then move the fuck on…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650774911 Joe Harper

    You know I read these missives and they haunt me. I come back a month later to re-read it and it hits me betweein the eyes. This is powerful, tectonic plate shifting plain truth that only a select few could appreciate. And for me it takes a month to get it. Bravo sir.

  • Wintermute92

    Its my fault.  All of it.  I dont apologize, but I acknowledge it.  Its my fault.

  • http://www.recruitinganimal.com RecruitingANIMAL

    It’s not your fault. That’s just a good tag line to get people worked up about your article.

    33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer
    http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/03/33-unusual-tips-to-being-a-better-writer/
    Have a shocking title. Don’t forget that you are competing against a trillion other pieces of content out there. So you need a title to draw people in. Else you lose.

  • Anonymous

    All of the comments that I’ve read, including the original post about blaming everything outside of yourself, can be solved by practicing “The Four Agreements”
    1) Be impeccable with your word
    2) Don’t take anything personally
    3) Don’t make assumptions
    4) Always do your best.

    All of Don Miguel Ruiz’s books (Four Agreements, Voice of Knowledge, Mastery of Love) systematically remove what is not true in your life (remove you from the victim role).  Then all that’s left is the truth. 

    Also worth reading is Jed McKenna’s “Spiritual Enlightenment:  The Damnest Thing”  Jed McKenna’s.  What I found most interesting about what Jed said in one of the books in the trilogy:  “What people want more than a million dollars, or a brand new car, is to pull over the covers and go back to sleep” 

    Don Miguel has this to say about our self-rejection:  “….Death is not the biggest fear of the human.  The greatest fear of the human is take a risk and be ourselves.”  We grow up with all these images of perfection, 99% are not true.  Yet we cannot forgive others or ourself for not being perfect.

    I suppose it appears easier to sit on the sidelines, make assumptions and never take any meaningful action.   We all have moments in our life where we can experience the truth.  The question is, what do you do with this awareness?  Stuff your head back in the sand?  Or create a beautiful masterpiece of life.

    • Fubar

      fyi – enemas have no “waste cleaning” value, that is an old medical myth started by radical vegetarians, including the guy that founded the Kellogg Cereal Company!  Enemas are basically non-sexual masturbation. the idea that Feces = Enlightenment does have a long history, including Gandhi, who was OCD about feces.

      Another example:
      http://www.caganer.com/caganer-sarah-palin-p-737.html

      • http://www.AwarenessForex.com/ AwarenessForex

        If you had experience with this, you would know that a clean water enema is a provable method to loosen up sticky, solid waste material that cakes up in the colon. The caking is a result of mostly poor eating habits over an extended period of time.

        The best way to dispel the ‘myth’ is to do a few proper enemas with a 5 gallon bucket (gravity feed) or there are “machine-like” setups that will add a couple of psi to the water pressure to ensure water travels further back in the colon (although gravity feed should be sufficient in most cases). This process is not mystical by any means; the user can actually feel and/or see the chunks of hardened crap come out, especially as the water travels further back in the colon.

        If you have little experience with this, it might be better to go somewhere that specializes in a clean, private, and transparent setup. Dr Imani of the Nile Wellness Center in Atlanta offers just this type of environment at an affordable price: http://www.NileWellnessCenter.com . You’ll see that it is a very cost effective method of getting rid of what is NOT working for your body. Many of your instincts and energies that were being suppressed with the overload of waste will return to you. It’s a big shock to see how full of sh*t we really are [sic].

        • Fubar

          There are no scientifically legitimate medical studies or research that support the value of enemas as a general health practice.

          As stated previously, the popular idea that enemas have a general health value was originally a commercial hoax by a cereal manufacturer with a pseudo-science cultural agenda. It is part of a constellation of pseudo-science “alternative” health hoaxes promoted by “new age” snake oil salesmen/women who exploit people with rectal fetishes or a tragic need for “feel good” memes.

          A person who has true spiritual detachment would never fall into the trap of such psychological manipulation or believing in pointless pseudo-science.

          The good news is that it isn’t a very harmful practice (if, as you say, done in a sanitary manner), and only “wastes” (no pun intended) people’s time and money.

          • http://www.AwarenessForex.com/ AwarenessForex

            When I spoke about enemas originally, I was speaking mainly from my own personal experience and the observations I’ve made from other people who have gotten several enemas. BTW, I am speaking only about clean water enemas, not coffee enemas, wheatgrass enemas, or any exotic additives. The proof comes in the experience, not 3rd party validation.

            If by “scientifically legitimate medical studies or research”, you are referring to peer-reviewed articles or journals from a state-approved medical board or facility, I suggest those interested contact directly either Dr. Michael Imani at the Nile Wellness Center http://www.NileWellnessCenter.com or Dr. Phillip or Nalani Valentine of the University of Kemetian Sciences http://www.UKSNow.org . Either of those people would be able to point you in the right direction in your research. I personally didn’t need to see it as I did research the old fashion way: I tested the method, got some positive results, and kept repeating with small tweaks to maximize the benefit of the flushing. Just like my parents, you test a method and see if it works. If not, you make adjustments or try something new.

            I’ve done both an ‘open’ enema (more common setup, similar to being on a toilet but you are laying down) and a ‘closed’ enema (where the crap catcher is attached to the water tube; supposed to minimize the smell and allow the user to see the waste in the collector); I found that the open enema is much more effective and less restrictive, and if you use a fan or have good ventilation, the smell is not an issue.

            BTW, you’d be interested to know that using water to flush out your colon technique have been used since ancient Egyptians; there’s nothing new under the sun and the idea of flushing your colon with water is not a recent commercial concoction. There may have been a few charlatans that have misused the term for some short term economic benefit; only your own common sense can steer you away from those people. Even closer to the present times, throughout Asia they have water hoses next to the toilet so that after you pass a bowel movement, you spray your butt-hole clean. It took a little getting used to, but I couldn’t imagine using toilet paper alone as the only proper means to clean your butt. Females can also use the spray (or enema bag) to douche their vagina.

            A person who has true spiritual detachment would go and verify for themselves if a path or method is suitable for them and avoid making blanket assumptions about things they are unfamiliar with. They don’t allow their fears or the fears of others to distract them away from figuring out what is true. Everyone has to make their own choice.
            Here’s a bonus. While you are using the enema to empty out your physical waste, start practicing “The Four Agreements” (Don Miguel Ruiz) to take care of your mental waste. Using them both together will give you unprecedented clarity of body and mind. The ability to control and rule your own life….the true power of adulthood. Of course you will not have the opportunity to benefit from either of these methods if you don’t do them. Put them in practice to get the maximum benefit. They are both very affordable and accessible methods. The 4 agreements is $10-20, a quart enema bag is $5-10 at Walmart.

  • Ron Bohn

    So this is what you should have said, but I’m curious…what did you say to them? I’m guessing that whatever you did say helped you avoid getting shot by the cop?

  • Anngrogan

     I’m not sure I’ll ever get off your blog and reading your articles today now that I’ve found them! After my 14-year -long State of Calif. legal career, the final six in civil litigation (now 20 yrs ago) in the state Attorney General’s office, I learned that 99.9% of the cases I defended against were brought by losers who could do nothing but blame “the system,” “the supervisor” — blame anyone but themselves. So they sued the “deep pockets State”, thinking that law would fill up the spiritual and mental holes in their life. Seems a precious few can accept their own limitations or the fact that half the problem is always them. Once I groked that point, I left the law to study and sell ….Victorian corsets! The day I walked out of the State building to freedom (not to problemless-freedom, mind you!), I felt like an Empire State-sized weight had been lifted off me, and I never looked back (well, some miserable days in the small biz community mucking about to learn how to make it, I wondered…). So…we know one of the basic problems of humanity these days, but now please write on about solutions to our complaining-finger-pointing society.

    • Fubar

      re: Unlearning

      Hey Ann,

      Law is ritualized warfare. Not surpirsing that it brings out the ugliness in human nature.

      Sacramento was originally a railroad town (with ties to big corporate ag, see John Steinbeck), and with a few ups and downs, the State of California has has been deeply involved in supporting State Capitalism (socialism for rich people), not the original form of independent political culture and “personal responsibility” that many small business people still cherish and idealize.

      The welfare state was an accommodation crafted in the compromises between the owner classes in the industrial revolution and labor revolutionaries. It corrupted liberal politics in the sense that politicians pander to voters by taking someone else’s money and giving to those that vote for the politicians. As you probably know, the railroads were one of many examples of corporate welfare. Far more corruption has happened because of corporate welfare than anything else. Now that big business is in bed with big government, democracy is basically gone, replaced by plutocracy.

      Anyways, I just happened to be reviewing this, and thought it might be pertinent:

      http://www.archive-ilr.com/archives-2006/2006-10/2006-10-murray.php
       
      Integral Leadership Review
      Volume VI, No. 4 – October 2006
      Integral Leadership as Supporting Epistemic Sophistication in Knowledge-Building Communities, Tom Murray

      excerpts:I will argue that while humanity unquestionably needs more adequate
      models, it is a deeper understanding of models and the modeling mind
      that is essential to cognitive/ethical/spiritual evolutionary
      development.  In the post-modern (or more accurately the
      post-post-modern or post-metaphysical) context it is incumbent on
      leaders to facilitate the learning of not only specific models but of
      flexible and reflective ways to think about, use and evolve models….Consider the following statements, which exemplify knowledge, skills
      and attitudes associated with low epistemic sophistication in most
      contexts:
      “There is only one correct answer. The truth is the truth.”“I only believe what I see. Reality is what we can see with our own eyes.”“That is true because [some authority] says it is true. Case closed.”“It is all a matter of opinion and nobody’s is any better than anyone else’s. There is no use trying to find the best answer.”“I have no feelings about this matter; I have no biases in the matter; my thinking is completely logical.”“I am not really responsible for my values, my beliefs or my reactions.”
      The example statements listed above are not only observed in people
      at moderate-to-low (or “conventional” or formal-operational)
      developmental levels, we all take (regress to) these perspectives from
      time to time and more so under certain contexts, such as when feeling
      defensive, under pressure or otherwise emotionally charged. If one
      accepts the hypothesis above, then it is also true that for “average
      adults” who, on the whole, exhibit low epistemic sophistication we can
      find simple and non-threatening scenarios for which they would reflect
      beliefs such as the following, which exemplified high epistemic
      sophistication:
      “There are many answers to such questions, it’s not a black and white thing.”“A bunch of people can look at something and see really different things.”“You can’t rely on one source of expertise in that situation, it’s more complex than that.”“My anger yesterday led me to think that about you, but I don’t really believe it.”“The meaning of that term varies from one place to another; there is no exact definition of it.”“Those people can’t just take on the values and beliefs handed to them; they have to think for themselves.”“There are different ways to interpret that event and I am free to choose my perspective.”
      It is not that everyone has the ability or desire to think at
      abstract philosophical levels about “the nature of knowledge” or “how
      the mind works” but that epistemically sophisticated insights are
      available to most people in concrete practical contexts, assuming (and
      this is a large assumption) they have the emotional and attentional
      resources and perhaps with a little guidance.
      What keeps us from applying these basic insights to more areas of our
      lives? Even though I agree that epistemic sophistication is acquired
      developmentally, I propose that the issue is sometimes more one of
      un-learning and of letting go than of learning. One reason people don’t
      apply sophisticated epistemic insights to more contexts is that they
      have not practiced learning and using them in that context. But one
      could ask, why is that? Partly, it is because these skills are not
      modeled and supported in more contexts. But what I want to propose here
      is that it is often because, mostly unconsciously, we hold tightly onto
      less sophisticated ways of reasoning in particular contexts; these
      beliefs meet some need or serve some purpose for us. People may have the
      capacity, the mental competence, for epistemic sophistication, but it
      does not always translate into performance largely because, at some
      level, they don’t want it to—to do so would be difficult, frustrating,
      uncomfortable or create cognitive dissonance, because it would involve
      relinquishing some closely held beliefs about the world, our associates
      or ourselves….

  • Anonymous

    Thank you.

  • Scott Tesler
  • Anonymous

    Jim,

    You’re so damn right that even the most diehard accountability gurus would be mad at you!

  • GK

    Perfect ending!

  • Mzervas

    Brilliant. I want to cry.

  • http://twitter.com/FreeMarketsFan Marc

    Fantastic piece! The lack of personal responsibility these days is truly alarming. I love you calling it out and explaining why you’ll never find happiness, contentment, whatever you want to call it, if you’re always blaming others. Another great post!

  • AgeOfSophizm

    Nice one JA!  This one is bleeding truth, big time…

  • Capitalistic


    Take a deep breath. You’re three years old. You like to bounce a ball. You throw it down. It comes back up. You throw it down. It comes back up. You’re happy.”
    That basically sums up how I try to handle all the everyday bs a start up company has to deal with. Nice post!

  • Charharhar

    Just bounce that ball.

  • -x

    This can be misconstrued and is incomplete.

  • -x

    Responsibility, in otherwords, is a complex. multi-faceted topic.

  • ping

    It is my fault that I read this and it your fault that you wrote it.
    Or maybe the other way around ? My fault that you wrote this and your fault that I read it ? No, it is my fault that you wrote it and that I read it. And your fault that you read this comment.

  • AltucherAddict

    James, you did it. I love you. Much much love. *HUG*

  • nancy

    Well my mom was diagnosed with cancer while she was pregnant with me. She was advised to have an abortion. She did not. I was born she died. Everybody blamed me. Turned away from me. Trea ted meike shit. How is that my fault?
    I never had a mom wb o threw me a ball. She was was afraid of going to Hell so she had me and my life was Hell.

    • C

      She took a gamble, she died so that you may live, your mother was a god. You are an individual, a beautiful person, everyone else is just the periphery around you.

  • DrTune

    Your writing’s like freshly squeezed lemon juice.

  • conflicted

    It’s not necessarily fault, it just is what it is. It should be more about accepting the “now” instead of accepting a fault. If I was born into a poor family where my parents are drug addicts and beat me, I would refuse to think it’s “my fault.” It’s not my fault, it’s my situation.

  • Today

    Love this. It’s something I know myself but have a hard time expressing it or saying to others because they don’t like to hear it.

    This post also matches one of your 33 tips on writing, which said to be honest.

  • http://www.createhappyliving.com/ Ashok Singh

    You are just great James. Most of the times I talk like this and people say I’m insensitive and arrogant . It seems nobody wants to listen truth. Everyone just need sugar coated nice lies.

  • john

    wow, you are both dumb and morally bankrupt. that is quite a brazen immature stance you try to defend. might you be a nihilistic teen having a bit of angst. just blame yourself and never hold anybody else accountable. let’s just all throw up our hands and claim that nobody is to blame except each ones individual self. nobody should be held accountable for acting immorally. just blame yourself and hope to be lucky again. or did you mean to imply, “work hard to be the huckster and con artist of the future”

    i would suggest you never give advice to those who have been opressed or truly wronged. in your fantasy world the blame is always to be placed on the slave and the person who was raped.

    so clearly your dopey logic doesn’t apply to the financial world either.

  • Megan

    What do you do when you know it’s your fault and you can’t seem to forgive yourself?

  • Lagertha

    This whole article =sofisms.It’s NOT your fault for what happens outside your control.You couldn’t control Hitler,Stalin from committing genocide.You cannot control an earthquake.It’s outside your control,only your reaction to the things thrown at you ,your decision with what you do with what happened ,that you can control.It’s not healthy,true nor realistic to do victim blaming.Would you say the Jews that died in concentration camps,it was their fault they were taken?

  • LMM

    The headline should read ‘It’s Your Fault’ not ‘Its Your Fault’.

  • LMM

    Wow. He actually misspelled ‘it’s’ again in the body of the writing! lol