Light a Candle
By Adizes Insights on
“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
I do not know who said it, but it is a very powerful piece of advice. Why? Because we cannot control the darkness, can we? But we can light a candle.
It is not unusual for us to attribute a problem to another person. We focus on what may be the real source of the problem causing us pain, but if that source is not something we can control, what is the use of banging our head against the wall over it?
It is not unusual for us to criticize our spouse for something they did or said. We might even go ballistic when it is not the first time they’ve done whatever it is that’s bothering us. When will they listen? When will they care to change? But, maybe they are not in control of their behavior.
Let us take the case of an alcoholic partner. Can your partner change? Is he or she really trying to change? Are they taking steps towards changing, like going to Alcoholics Anonymous?
If yes, support them. If not, if it seems that you have no control over the situation, stop cursing the darkness and light the candle: Focus on what you can control, which in this case would be finding another partner. There is no need to stay in an abusive relationship. You have the ability to leave yours.
This principle of focusing on what about the situation is controllable means redefining where the problem lies. In the first example above, in which the important person in your life is capable of changing, your problem is supporting your partner so that the healing can be successful or even accelerated.
In the second example, in which the situation seems hopeless that the abusive person will change, the problem is not the abusive person. The problem is you. Why are you not acting? Why are you not doing something about it yourself?
There may be many reasons why we do not act, why we instead pass the blame along to someone else, even when there appears to be no hope that they will change. It is easier to accuse someone else of creating the problem than it is to do something about it ourselves. It is so much easier to insist that the other person needs to change, that there is nothing for us to do except to complain.
Do not curse the darkness. It will not change. Get up off your ass and light a candle.
Dr Ichak Kalderon Adizes
Founder and CEO, Adizes Institute Worldwide