Interpersonal stuff can be so tricky, or is it just me? For example, I have a friend, let’s call her “Susan,” who has a boss who is becoming increasingly more controlling, questioning, and untrusting. When this started, her first response was to be a little angry, frustrated and resist. Don’t we all want to resist being controlled?! One day, the boss demanded she fill in timesheets to track what she did every hour she worked. She began taking responsibilities away from Susan, saying “it wasn’t her job to do,” even though she’d been doing those things very well for quite a while. Then, the boss wanted Susan to write a report to summarize what she’d been doing, so all the managers could review it at a monthly meeting! Susan felt like her word wasn’t good enough, that she wasn’t being trusted. It’s not like she was a slacker, wasting time in the coffee room all day — she didn’t even take breaks!
Luckily, my friend’s capacity for anger and frustration ran out. She decided that if they wanted more reports, fine. If they wanted to question her, fine, she’d answer. She knew she wasn’t doing anything wrong, and if she had to prove it, fine. So far, things seem to be settling down, largely because she has changed her own attitude to the situation.
But she could have had a very different response. What if she had been snarky (a temptation, for sure) and put on the daily reports that she spent 2 hours doing reports for the boss! She might have thought this very clever, a little “dig” to point out the boss’ ridiculousness. But the boss could have reacted very badly, saying “that simple, one-page report took you 2 hours?!?” There could have been many ramifications — being sent for time management training, having one-on-one meetings to review how the reports are to be done, or just more hostilities between them, as the power struggle intensified. That’s what it started to feel like — a power struggle of epic proportions! Okay, not really epic, but do you see how we can blow things out of proportion? Susan has done a great job thinking and then responding, although it hasn’t been easy.
From dictionary.com: Ram•i•fi•ca•tion n. A development or consequence growing out of and sometimes complicating a problem, plan, or statement: the ramifications of a court decision.
We seem to get in our worst trouble when either A) we don’t take the time to think before responding (just reacting) or B) we don’t know as much about a situation as we think we do (just plain ignorance). For example, people get angry at the big oil and gas companies for what they are doing to the environment. “We need to shut them down,” they say. I love nature, and I agree with the sentiment, but what are the ramifications of shutting down gas and oil companies overnight? Could you heat your house? Drive your car? How would you eat — do your groceries arrive at the store via truck, or via electric train? See what I mean? Very few of us are are really well-informed, and have taken the time to look at an issue from many sides and see all the consequences of our proposed solution.
I came across a blog today, about choosing not to have children. There were many comments on it, and I shared it with Darren and we spent a while reading some other blogs and sites we found. Some people only see the issue from one side, and are very opinionated! I’ve had a few thoughts on it myself, but I think this is the key: have kids, or don’t — but think about what you’re doing and decide. Don’t just have them because it’s expected of you, because everyone thinks you should, or accidentally. Did you forget the ramifications of having sex?
Some people get into huge arguments with friends or family members about the child-bearing issue. It’s always harder to have a calm discussion — thinking before responding — when we are emotionally charged or attached to a situation or issue. With my husband, sometimes I just talk without thinking — ack! If only I took 3 seconds to breathe and think, instead of immediately responding! Why do conversations have to be so rapid-fire? Am I really in that much of a hurry? Yes. No. Of course. Come here. Talk to me! Darren thinks before speaking way more than I do, and sometimes I get frustrated when he takes so long to respond! Talk to me, Goose! (If you get that reference, you rock!) :)
Perhaps if I practiced more of the Buddhist idea of non-attachment, it would be easier. As I understand it, this doesn’t mean I’m not attached to my husband (don’t care about him), it means I am not attached to a certain outcome of our discussions — intensely needing him to agree with me, for example. We can agree to disagree, and I can accept and respect that he has his own perspective and it’s every bit as valid as mine. I think non-attachment is powerful, but I don’t know enough about it to say more now!
Now that I think of it, words have the most ramifications of any of the daily, ordinary things we do. They can make or break a relationship, change our attitude, and even change our world.
On a personal note, I have been working hard on publishing my book lately! I’ve been in conversation with an artist about the illustrations I need and I’m all over the lulu.com site, learning about how it all works and deciding on page sizes. Then I go into my publishing program and mess with page sizes, margins, fonts, and all that fun. It won’t be long now! I’ll keep you posted… :)