Part of a continuing series related to ideas in my book, “Sustainable You/8 First Steps to Lasting Change in Business and in Life.”
On almost any topic that involves me, just about the most valuable question I can ask is “what’s my role in it?” Even when I’m fooling myself about the answer, I’m still better off asking.
In earlier days, I would focus only on what was being done to me — practically by everyone, practically all the time. It never occurred to me to consider what, if anything, I had done to invite the evil behavior.
Nor did I consider that my reaction to it was not the only conceivable reaction any human could possibly have had, given the same stimulus.
The tip of the spear in this regard was my repeated failures to win the affection of women I targeted. (Yes, I said targeted, which is how I went about it — as opposed to, say, seeking friendship.) As I experienced deeper and more horrible rejections, I grew angrier at the injustice of it all, to the point where I developed this fantasy:
While I slumbered, women chosen to represent their sisters would gather in a smoke-filled arena, hearing reports and exhortations from the podium. “That’s when we struck, when he’d just come to believe — if you can believe it! — that this time we’d be nice!” Cheers would go up from the various delegations, each shimmying its narrow vertical banner up and down in the manner of political conventions.
I always knew these gatherings never really happened, but never did I completely decide they didn’t, either.
Could it have been my cauldron of anger? My arrogance? My negativity? Or how about my focus outward toward “her,” instead of considering what my role in my life was?
Other men, having failed to win a lass’s favor, might simply say “Next!,” as I was advised to do but couldn’t until well into my 30s. Others might drown their sorrows for a night or a weekend andor move on. I took myself prisoner, replaying my wrong moves while diving into troughs of food.
I experience far less drama these days, in part because I try to ask: How did I contribute to the outcome? What might I have done differently?
I am not all-powerful (of course), so it’s true that sometimes, it’s going to go south no matter what I do. But even then, I can always make bad worse.
If you can relate to that, consider making this outlook a part of your worldview. As I see it, it can only help.