When my Mom and Dad lived in Atlanta, my Mom got rearended several times in fairly quick succession. Generally, we think that getting rearended puts the liability always on the party that does the rearending. However, after the second or third time, the insurance company told my Mother that, when it is a recurring problem, it suggests that the driver who is getting rearended is at fault, at least in part. Perhaps she is driving too slowly for the traffic, pulling out in traffic without sufficient room, failing to signal properly for lane changes, etc. The bottom line is that every driver has to drive defensively and with due consideration to her impact on others.

This has been on my mind this week several times and I can’t shake the lesson that it seems to offer. I’ve been dealing with a situation in which one particular person is persistently in conflict with a number of other people. The person at the nexus of the conflict persistently tries to deflect fault and lay the responsibility on others and bemoan how unfair it all is. I’ve gotten to the point that it no longer matters who did what to whom. The common denominator is this one person. Intentional or not, she is a lightning rod for conflict.

We all have to be aware of the impact we’re having on others. If it is persistently negative, there has to be some scrutiny of our own role in the problem. Without such self awareness, we easily make assumptions like “everyone is out to get me.” Then we act out of that assumption and pretty soon we’ve created a self fulfilling prophecy, at least from our own perspective.