Duchess (for all of the uninitiated that is what everyone in the family calls my mother) and I were on the phone last night talking about what makes people do the things they do. She was talking about people she knew and so was I. Nothing deep or meaningful but just about the stuff people get stuck on that dictate their behavior. They don’t even know why they do what they do. It’s fascinating.
People get wedded to a position and they can no longer hear opposing opinions. We were talking about how to approach someone we both like and get them to alter how they deal with us. We came up with something too. A way to derail the weirdness, maintain the friendship all without the other person knowing what has happened.
Duchess is deeper than the ocean.
This leads me to my thought for the day:
Go steady with your ideas . . . never marry them.
Now I am not talking religion or your basic core values that say things like love your family. What I am talking about is how you see the world and what you are doing in it.
For instance, as we discussed in my holiday letter I have, of late, abandoned My Little Patch of Land Theory. In short the theory went as follows: All I want is to stand peacefully on my little patch of land. I don’t look for trouble and I don’t insult easily I will let a whole lot of stuff pass me by.
I will do everything in my power to get along with people. I will back up, compromise and laugh off all kinds of stuff. My patch of land – my zone of insult was very small so I knew if you reached it you did it intentionally. You had to work to get there. So when you hopped that fence on to my land I KNOW that I have already done everything I can avoid it and you were just being disrespectful and as such deserved the explosion that lives at the end of that very long fuse I have purposely created.
Talk about an evolution of ideas.
I say that because years ago I purposely created that long fuse because my previous approach to unpleasantness was not working for me. I used to explode routinely and with little provocation. I was a girl who saw the whole world, at its very essence, as a threat. I was all wound up and very angry.
I also didn’t used to care what people thought of me. At all. Never had a lot of friends. (go figure) I usually just one trusting soul at a time who took the time to understand me.
But anyway, I could see that that way of thinking was not working so I began to monitor my reactions, assess the value of each outburst and leveled off. Next thing you now I have a huge cache of explosives somewhere all stored up from hurts I did not address. Then one day some poor unsuspecting soul unwittingly lights a spark and gets cussed out inter-syllabically for reasons they never understood.
That didn’t work either.
So when once I figured that out I started to store separate stockpiles of ammunition for everyone. In essence I made a point to “Know Where the Mad was Supposed to Go” – see Rule 34 My Mother’s Rules. That way I had a long fuse for each person and only lit up when they have burned me to the quick.
I found out last year that works great when you are a real life judge but not so much in everyday life. I like to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and I don’t like to bark orders. I want everybody to be happy and I like to be nice. But when you are a judge your kindness is never mistaken as weakness because everybody knows what’s up. Not so much out here in the hinterlands of reality.
When I took that attitude out into the regular world I found myself getting taken advantage of for long periods of time. Then I “wreak havoc” as E is found of telling me once they reached my Little Patch of Land and really accomplished nothing.
So now I am working a different approach. I am going to state my position professionally but consistently. Not with every little problem but with things that matter. Even here at home. ( I really blew this one at home. Do any of you recall my bog re my outburst over the lawn?) Bad, bad stuff at the house. That moment by the way authored my “False okay rule” that I talk about on the show.
Anyway I am working my new attitude like a job and it feels so foreign to me (because I really do love to let the small stuff just pass me by) and it is hard to know when something is too small too mention or is of sufficient value to bring to someone’s attention. Duchess says it’s not the ‘what’ but the ‘how’ of how you address it – so your girl is now working that. It’s a full time gig.
Wow, talk about catharsis. I had no intention of going here. But that is where I am.
For what it’s worth.