Mindfulness: When I fingerpoint, three fingers are pointing back at me

4 Comments July 8, 2013 / Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness

Knife in my back



This statement by Jerry Harvey, author of The Abilene Paradox, captures what Pema Chhodron addresses in her talk on “The Propensity To Be Bothered.” It is a way for me to remove myself from having anything to do when I feel wronged or hard done by. There is a belief that I am an innocent victim and somehow not involved in what has happened to me.  I know I can find situations where there are innocent victims. However, I am looking at myself when I get angry and upset at someone for what they did to me.

I have learned that when I am upset, angry, bothered, ticked off that it says more about me than whoever or whatever situation I blame.

My tendency is to give intentionality to the person who has wronged me.  Jerry Harvey statement about “Why are my fingerprints on the knife in my back,” has been helpful. Over the years those words have allowed me to observe the part that I have played in creating the situation. Often I and the people I have counseled when hearing those words have a new perspective about maybe not being the innocent victim.

Blame allows me to deflect a question I need to ask of myself: What role did I have in creating this situation I am angry about and blaming someone else for doing it to me?



In her book: How To Meditate, shares these insights. I have taken the liberty to put it in the first person as I am speaking only for myself:

I can be caught in the momentum and carried away, which usually means I start talking to myself about what’s going on. I churn it all up more and more, and it’s like the ripples go out and out and out.

When I choose to reinforce the emotion, when I choose to exaggerate it, when I choose to let the emotion run me, to let the emotion carry me away, then I start a whole chain reaction of suffering.

I set off an automatic chain reaction like those ripples. So in meditation, I train in letting the rock, the emotion, drop without the ripples. I stay with the emotion rather than turning to my automatic reaction, a reaction that has been habitual for me for years and years.

And believe me, two seconds of doing something so radical, so counter-habitual, of not setting off my chain reaction, completely opens my life to this working from the space of open awareness. And if I don’t reject my emotions, they actually become my friends. They become my support.

My rage becomes my support for stabilizing, for returning my mind to its natural, open state. Emotions become my support for being fully awake and present, for being conscious rather than unconscious, for being present rather than distracted. That which has been an ogre in my life has the ability to just sweep me away—or it can become my actual friend, my support. It’s a whole different way of living, a whole different way of looking at my same old stuff.


4 Comments... What do you think? Subscribe via RSS
  1. janice mancuso said on July 9th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Dear Ozzie –

    I am a new subscriber to your blog. I’m so happy I found you again! Yes,
    again, because I ran with your Mission Bay group in the late 70’s. Those
    Sunday mornings often felt like “going to church,” at a time when the days
    of me actually going to church were not yet in my distant past.

    I found you and your website when doing internet research for the CME
    conference I created (Osler Symposium ). It
    addresses the needs of physicians experiencing burnout and has been
    conducted twice so far. We’re now on the journey of finding the path to
    financial sustainability. If we succeed, I may contact you at some point
    and invite you to speak!

    In the meantime I look forward to reading your words. Today’s essay helped me with a situation I’ve been unable to completely let go of because, of course, I was the victim. 😉 Thank you.

    Kind regards,


  2. Bruce Levine said on July 17th, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Great post Oz. I love the part about finger pointing. I have so much to learn.

  3. Mindfulness: When I fingerpoint, three fingers ... said on July 8th, 2013 at 8:34 am

    […] This statement by Jerry Harvey, author of The Abilene Paradox, captures what Pema Chhodron addresses in her talk on The Propensity To Be Bothered.  […]

  4. […] Read the full article here: Mindfulness: When I Fingerpoint, Three Fingers Are Pointing Back at Me […]

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