Let Go of Blame & Worry and Run Your BEST ‘Race’
I started reflecting on how life is a lot like a relay race.
For any of you who ran relay races when you were a kid, you would understand what the training is like. Much of the coaching centres on the passing of the baton. After all, it is the most important part of a relay race — if the baton is not passed properly, the next runner can’t go on and the race is essentially over.
Have you run you life like a relay race? Maybe you’ve never thought about it that way before now.
Let me tell you what I’ve learned in realizing that for many years I have run my life like a relay race…
Looking at the Past: I was looking behind me, waiting for the baton to be passed to me. I was looking at the ‘passer’ and I expected the pass to be done well. I had expectations around how the person before me should do things (and guess how I reacted when they didn’t do what I wanted them to do?!)
Looking to the Future: I was running with all my might to get to where I needed to be. I was living in the future. My focus was on the next person, not what I was doing to contribute to the overall result.
One thing I was NOT doing was focusing on the moment I was in and enjoying the race.
Can you relate to this?
I was either happy or angry with the person passing the baton to me (depending on their pass) or focused on the next person (or the finish line) I was running to.
Does this come up in your life too?
When we focusing on how the baton has been passed to us, we are living in the past. We do this when we blame others for how they treated us, make them at fault for us not doing better and making excuses for why we just couldn’t win.
In doing this, I was holding onto resentment toward people who didn’t hold up their ‘end of the bargain’. People who may have tried their best, but their best wasn’t good enough to set me up for success. They abused me or didn’t care enough or didn’t do what they were supposed to do to help me realize my true potential in the race of life.
The fact is, for many of us, we experience getting passed the baton in a way that DOESN’T help us move forward.
This could show up in a few different ways:
1. The ‘passer’ may have naturally fumbled or missed. This would be someone trying their best and making an honest mistake, such as parents who made some difficult calls that they thought were right at the time. This type of pass could still result in some people feeling that they were unable to win the race in the end.
2. The ‘passer’ may have just not wanted to work as hard or they may not have been as committed to the race. Sometimes people are caught up in their own lives and their own troubles, such as ex partners who broke up with us because of their own issues, hurting us in the process.
3. The ‘passer’ had an ego that got in the way. Some people lack self-confidence and because their ego is so big (or so fragile underneath) they either overcompensate and make it about them looking good, or they give up altogether in a heap of defeat because they can’t be ‘perfect’.
Knowing that people who up in these ways because of their own ‘stuff’ helps us see that people are humans beings with faults. I believe 95% of the population would have guilt and remorse over hurting another person. These people do the best they can and don’t want to hurt others — when they are hurting they hurt people without realizing it fully. Sometimes these are the ‘passers’ in our lives.
The passers are our parents, caregivers, teachers, friends, coaches, ex’s, etc. One thing they all have in common is that they are human beings with their own hurts and hangups.
So do we want to base OUR OWN part in the race on how the people before us passed us the baton?
We Are Passers Too
Looking at it in another way, we pass the baton to others too. How would they feel about our pass?
We are ‘passers’ and sometimes we make mistakes. We have people’s best interests at heart and we still hurt them unintentionally at times. We may not set everyone up for success that we come in contact with. We may be dealing with our own ‘stuff’ and not treat people in uplifting and empowering ways.
So if that’s the case, do we want them blaming us for them not running a good race?
Do we want them playing victim to what we did to them?
Wouldn’t we want them to continue running the race in the best way possible and not hold on to what we did or didn’t do to pass the baton properly?!
If so, shouldn’t we give people that same grace?
Nobody Passes Perfectly
People love us and we love them.
They do their best under the circumstances and so do we.
Most people aren’t out to hurt us just like we aren’t out to hurt them.
They pass the baton in whatever way they do, to the best of their ability at the time. It may not make their pass ‘acceptable’ or ‘right’ — it just is what it is and we can’t go back and change that.
We also run the race and pass the baton to the next person in the best way we know how. We aren’t intentionally trying to set ourselves, or them, up for failure.
We are doing the very best we know how and loving them in the best way we can at that moment in time.
Sometimes We Blame
Whether I knew the baton passer’s motive or not, it didn’t mean anything — I still blamed them for MY part in the race being ruined in some way.
Instead of just taking the baton, regardless of how it was passed, and running my part of the race as best I could, I spent time in resentment.
I didn’t spend time enjoying the act of running, feeling the wind on my face and embracing the moment.
I was upset and angry.
I was living in the past.
People Could Blame Us Too
If I wasn’t focused on the past I was looking into the future — I was focusing on the person I was passing the baton to.
This can be a positive thing, but when the future is all we’re focused on, are we really enjoying the moment?
When I was focused on where I was headed, on winning, on doing my part well, on not screwing up and having that next person angry with me, I was not truly enjoying the moment.
See the problem?
I was not enjoying life.
I want to enjoy this journey — don’t you?
I don’t want to spend my life focusing on the past — what did or did not happen the way I wanted.
I don’t want to live my life focusing too much on the future either. I don’t wnat to always be looking at where I need to go or what I need to do to be successful.
I want to spend my time just being here, now, in the present.
So what do YOU do?
Do you take the baton and run with it regardless of how it was passed to you?
Do you blame the passer who accidentally gave you a bad pass?
Do you focus on getting to the next runner or do you take time to enjoy the ride — the race (or marathon) called life?
Things don’t often work out perfectly in a relay race, unless you’re watching the top athletes in the world. Even then, they have trained and trained to be able to do what they do. We have not received the same type of training so we will often fumble as we run this race — and so will others.
I reflected on the way we get passed the baton because it’s so easy to blame the passer, the person before us who fumbled in some way or made some mistake.
It’s easy to blame THEM for US not winning the race of life.
We get stuck being a victim to our past, we blame others, we try and move forward running a race and in the back of our mind we remember that we would be doing so much better if that other person hadn’t made a mistake, fumbled or done something else that didn’t serve the team.
We are being pulled in two directions and not focusing on what’s most important — the present moment.
For a long time I was held back by the things that happened in my past and I wasn’t able to run the race that was ahead of me.
I spent TOO MUCH time blaming people from my past experiences, holding THEM accountable for the place I was in MY life.
Not long ago I realized that I had a choice. I could continue to live my life blaming the people before me who passed the baton incorrectly or take ownership around where I could go in my own part of the race.
I also realized that I could spend time focusing on the future and what could possibly happen, doing it all perfectly and making sure I made little to no mistakes
I could enjoy the moment I was in.
I realized that it’s not how the baton is passed, or how you pass the baton, it’s the journey IN BETWEEN the passes that counts the most.
Just like I wouldn’t want someone to hold themselves back because of my incorrect pass, I refuse to hold myself back anymore because of theirs.
I have a choice and my choice is to run the race before me and enjoy it, be present in it and let go of blame from the past and worry about the future.
When I die one day, I want to know that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. ~2 Timothy 4:7
How do you want to run your race?