A sheepish lesson in self-sabotage

I stomped the gas pedal harder, kicking up gravel and dirt into my friend, Shaun’s, face. The back wheels of my new used car sunk further into the soft earth, refusing to propel me up the hill.

I blamed Rob for having a cottage at the bottom of a steep hill. I blamed that sleaze ball car dealer who clearly sold me a lemon. I blamed Hyundai for allowing such a lemon off their assembly line. And I blamed Shaun and his no-good noodle arms for being unable to push me to the top.

Unlike my car, my blood pressure was climbing steadily. This was no way to end a beautiful Canada Day long weekend at the cottage.

Releasing the gas I angrily shooed Shaun away and put the car in reverse so I could have another go at the hill. As I looked down to make the gear change I noticed a minor detail that I had overlooked:

My parking brake was on.

Sheepishly, I leaned out my window. “Uhh… All right. This time, I’m going to try it without the emergency brake on.”

Considering I nearly gave the guy a hernia, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Shaun found my idiocy more humourous than cause for murder.

The second attempt up the hill went a lot better.

If nothing else it was a real lesson in self-sabotage. That, and the importance of remembering to disengage parking brakes.

How often do you look around for others to blame when something goes wrong, instead of reflecting on how you might have eff’d things up? It’s certainly easier than assuming personal responsibility. The hill’s too steep. My car’s too crappy. Shaun’s a big sissy. But in the end, no matter how many external obstacles—whether real or imagined—stand in your way, you’re never going to get up that hill until you take a look on the inside and figure out the real problem.

And many external obstacles are outside our control anyway. I couldn’t flatten the hill to Rob’s cottage any more than I could have given Shaun a stronger back. But you always have control over how you respond to a situation, and the opportunity for self-reflection to see if you left the parking brake on.

Anyway, it was a good reminder for me to look inside first before rushing to blame someone or something else.

What about you? Have you had any similar, self-sabotaging experiences? Feel free to share them in the comments!

I’ll give Rocky – yes, that Rocky – the last word here on the topic of blaming others and looking within to overcome obstacles.



Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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