Couple of days back, I wrote an open letter to my mentor. In the letter, I wrote of how I learnt about the importance of positivity in our everyday lives, in terms of perspectives. I wrote on to share with him, how instead of focusing on the problems and outcomes, it is paramount for us to direct (aka refocus) our attentions towards the actions that drive the outcomes. All learnt from the book called “Performance Intelligence at Work”, written by Doc Julie Bell.
Thanks Doc Julie. The book made me look at problems from very different ways, and I am feeling so much better, and with more confidence when I tackle everyday issues now.
Everyday issues. That’s right. Perspectives are important even in everyday issues. Why am I bringing this up? Err…yeah, I had my fair share of difficulties in… just, very recently.
I was to attend a wedding dinner of an in-law with my wife, and there were some problems with us attending:
My little kiddo isn’t someone who’ll like to attend weddings, and we don’t know why.
My wife and I don’t like to attend weddings. (and now we know why the kiddo doesn’t.)
I have something to attend to on that particular Saturday (as a matter of fact, every Saturday evening from 10pm.).
We have to pay – as a way to show our blessings – hundreds for an 8-course dinner. And we are not exactly rich enough to part with hundreds of dollars without feeling the pinch in our hearts.
So the dinner was on this particular date, and I was supposed to – okay, I admit that I had forgotten about it. Because, prioritization – arrange my schedule on that Saturday so I could free myself up in order to dress up and attend a dinner that’d include small talks with relatives that I’d be seeing there. Missus knew about my lack of enthusiasm in rearranging my schedule, and thus she went into a discussion with my mother-in-law, with hopes that her mom would agree to us not attending.
Conclusion? Well, missus had an arguement with her mom. Mother-in-law insisted on our attendance.
We didn’t have a way out; we had to enjoy the food that evening. Coincidence can be a bitch at times, when I received a call that afternoon, informing me that I couldn’t change my initial schedule for that day. Missus wasn’t taking it easy, because a) she didn’t want to go to the wedding, and she had to. b) she was still fuming over the quarrel she had with her mother. I had a good chance to practise what I had learnt from Doc Julie.
Missus wasn’t showing any patience; she blasted a long speech of her unhappiness at me few hours prior our departure for the dinner. After my extensive research and deep thinking, I concluded that her unhappiness were from:
We had to go; there was no way out.
I did not rearrange my schedule, even though my commitment on that evening was pretty much impromptu (kinda confusing, but just bear in mind that it isn’t about me, and I could, in fact, chose to or not to go. But it was more about me having to attend to something that may or may not have taken place, and there’ll be no one substituting me)
She didn’t welcome the trouble to pacify the kiddo once he starts his cryings during the dinner. (and I’ve told many people who’d asked, that kiddo isn’t exactly happy to see people getting married until he got himself a wife.)
Looking into her problems, and being the good husband that I always was, I thought deep into the issues with my analytical mind and sought a few solutions for her, which were:
Since there wasn’t a way out, we’d go for the dinner. There would not be a solution to this problem, and since we couldn’t control the outcome, we could control our actions, which were “just fucking go” with smiles on our faces.
My commitment wasn’t about me, and I, even if I had rearranged it, I’d still have to attend it if there were problems that required my attention. Yes, I could have told someone – even though I didn’t have a substitute – and give someone (just anyone) a heads up about me having to attend a wedding instead. So in short, I did not have a solution to this also. Hence I’d work on another set of actions that’d put us into a win-win situation (read on)
The kiddo would be going – there’d be no one around to take care of him. The solution would be to pacify – as much as we didn’t want to – him the moment he started his singing.
I thought about the points that I had highlighted in my mind, and told myself that since there weren’t any solutions to the “problems” that we would be facing, it’ll be a terrible drain of energy to just feel unhappy about them. My take on this was, since there wasn’t anything I could do, there wouldn’t be anything that anger could do either. In the end, I refocused my energy into finding a way to pacify my wife instead.
I knew that my wife wouldn’t be in the mood for a proper discussion, so I decided to use what I had learnt from the book: “We can’t control the outcome, but we can control the actions that drive the outcomes.” I chose to keep quiet until she was in the mood to speak. In my mind, I knew that she had already made her choice, which was – not finding a solution, nor facing the problems – to step on the negative spectrum of the whole issue. Talking to her would only piss her off further, and that’d be the last thing I would want to do. Her perspectives had already set her actions on their way – denying any doable options put forth to her.
In soft and gentle tones, I gave her my variables:
She’d go alone, because if the kiddo was going to be a nuisance, I’d stay at home with the kid while she filled up the attendance OR she’d go with the kid, while I’d prepare myself for my commitment.
Since it was going to be impromptu, I’d use the time at home with the kid to pray that my presence would not be required (which was in actuality, not a feasible idea because my attendance was mandatory, and I only got to know it in the afternoon.) OR I’d just attend what I needed to attend (not the wedding), OR I’d leave in advance before the dinner ended, and she could bring the kiddo home.
Refer to point 1. Kiddo would not be kicking a fuss over the wedding because he would not be there to witness it OR we would have to manage him during the wedding dinner.
Due to Mrs already standing on the negative line, her answers to me were:
No, because the invitation was sent to our family, not an individual. So no one was supposed to be not attending. 2 options down.
It was still my fault for not rescheduling my time for that fateful Saturday, and refer to point number 1: no one was to leave early also. Another 3 options down.
Refer to point number 1. Last 2 options down.
So there we have it: no solutions would be workable, not because there weren’t any solutions. The solutions weren’t workable because my wife had already decided that there’d be no solutions the moment she stepped her foot on the negative spectrum. Luckily for us, I have an analytical mind. So while facing this issue, I had another could-do on my cards.
Anything said thereafter would trigger another arguement, and there’d be no conclusions to any quarrels that would arise because one side had already shut the doors to any options. As such, I chose the path that every married men would: Keep my fucking mouth shut.
1 hour went by, and she was finally going to be done with her makeup and stuffs. Then, gently, I put forth another suggestion that, in my opinion, would make the overall problem less problematic.
“You’ll go with the kid; I’ll follow behind with my bike.”
“So if I have to go before the dinner ends, I’ll go off myself and you can stay with the kid until the end of the dinner, and I’ll explain it to your parents.”
Have I forgot to mention that we were not allowed to leave until the dinner was over?
This time, after having her makeup done, Mrs was finally calming her tits down a little. Her tones were softer, and she was gentler. She said:
“We’ll go together; your son is not going to see you not in the same car.”
“But how am I going to leave if I don’t have my own ride?” I asked, still as gentle as I always am.
“We’ll leave together. Leave the explanations to me.”
There we have it. The very moment my wife’s perspectives switched from “no can’t do” to “let’s talk about it”, the issue had its equations sorted out. Trust me when I say it’s true, that “we can’t control the outcomes, but we can control our actions that lead to the outcomes.”, because I’m a real life example of it. I knew I couldn’t control her decision, so I worked on my actions. I used soft and gentle tones when I suggested to her my ideas, and let the outcome handled itself.
What would have happened if I had been aggressive and told her straight up that she was being unreasonable and the problem was, in fact, her, because she wasn’t open for a discussion?
Well, perhaps, no sex for a month that’d follow.
Andy Lawson is the average man on the street that you’ll not even trouble yourself looking at him if he passes by you. He’s sensitive to bullshit, and he hates mediocrity in most people. He is the author of his self-published book: Facts and Fiction of Fengshui: Facts that Masters are NOT Telling You. He doesn’t have Facebook or Twitter, because he hates to be associated with people who tend to be passive-aggressive online, but he does have a very limited set of vocabularies, terrible grammar, a twisted mind that makes himself God in his own twisted world and an ability to communicate with people who wish to be his friend.