Seek not scapegoats; seek not to become martyrs – seek to stay as servants
When we fail at something important, we often feel mortified that others will think of us as incompetent, bungling good-for-nothings.
To counter this negative perception, the mind often prompts us to search for scapegoats – someone to blame for the debacle. By pointing fingers to that person, we hope to protect our reputation.
Sometimes, when scapegoats can’t be easily found, the mind prompts us to the escape-way of self-martyrdom. We accept the blame for what has happened, but portray the situation in such a way as to attract compassion instead of derision. When a warrior is overcome while fighting against overwhelming odds, the public perception focuses not on the end result, but on the endeavor. Self-martyrdom is the expression of the mind’s hope for a similar positive shift of public perception.
These two approaches of scapegoating or self-martyring deprive us of the opportunity available in the adversity. Every life-event, including especially failure, brings with it opportunities to learn and to grow. To tap these opportunities, we need to take a closer look at ourselves and discover how we can improve ourselves. But this is hardly possible when we are worrying about how the world is looking at us and about how we can change that perception.
The Bhagavad-gita (12.13) commends those who are non-envious (adveshta) and non-egoistic (nirahankarah). Being non-envious protects us from scapegoating and being non-egoistic protects us from self-martyring. Underlying these self-empowering qualities is the foundation of steady devotion to Krishna. By meditating on our eternal identity as servants of Krishna, we can get our sense of self-worth and security from that unchangeable and inalienable divine relationship. Then we can look objectively at the situation, learn how we can become better servants and choose an intelligent course of action that contributes to inner evolution and outer rectification.