A boy was eating his lunch with his friends at school. As he ate his sandwich he complained. "Peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches. Everyday I get a peanut butter sandwich."
One of his friends said, "Why don't you ask your mother to make you another kind of sandwich?"
The boy replied, "You keep my mother out of this! I make my own peanut butter sandwiches!"
The joke is not all that funny, but it does hold some truth. When we are unhappy, we may be able to point a finger at our mothers for a while. Perhaps their attitude or behavior greatly influenced ours.
But then we can notice our counterproductive choices, name them, and make an effort to change or not. If not, then we can rightly say, "You keep my mother out of this, I make my own peanut butter sandwich" or whatever.
Stanza 6 from The Leaf and the Cloud by Mary Oliver says,
I will mention them now,
I will not mention them again.
It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.
I give them--one, two, three, four--the kiss of courtesy,
Of sweet thanks,
of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
May they sleep well. May they soften.
But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
I will not give them the responsibility for my life.
If we want to change, I believe that we need to accurately and with increasing gentleness name the ill-suited attribute. Then we can begin to imagine making something other than the predictable peanut butter sandwich.