Friday, April 16, 2010
Gotta a Good Reason?
I am not talking about Mr. Roarke the neighbor, who everyone knows is just an downright cranky bastard. Neither are we excusing Aunt Martha, who is just a walking, talking, nasty, meddling, controlling bitch. These people have some long-held issues and, unless you are getting paid, your life should not be wasted trying to rescue them from the pit they have made of their own existence.
Sometimes circumstances are such that we do have to deal with a boss, co-worker or relative who just seems to want to make today a slog through the muck for everyone. If you know the person and they are acting contrary to their usual manner, well then you can either give them some space or try to help. Being a trained professional, may I strongly recommend the space option. In fact, in the course of modern life, I take it as almost axiomatic that when faced with a myriad of potential courses of action selecting "space" is usually the safest course of inaction.
Reflect for a moment on the countenance of the cougar at the top of this post. No really, take another look. . . Go ahead. . . Is not your first reaction to slowly back away from the screen? See what I mean about genetically encoded. Follow your instincts and avoid the psychic scar tissue.
But what if they have a good reason . . .
What prompted my post today was this quote from the NYTimes. See if you can guess the missing words.
"Let me level with you -- sure, I'm grumpy and miserable and anti-social, but the rest of you are unbearable. I can't listen to you talk about your issues because [BLANK] makes me selfish. Your jealousy issues? Boo-hoo. I haven't [BLANK] in I don't know how many days and all of your yammering sounds like noise. You know when the adults talk to Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang? That's what it's like to listen to you.
I used to be so optimistic. Even now if I try really, really hard, I can see the upside to most things. But I have nothing good to say about being a miserable, [BLANK] lunatic. So if you're waiting for me to impart some delicious morsel of hope -- like how I find inspiration in my [BLANK] because, hey, I do my best writing when I'm angry, for example. Well, sorry -- this doesn't really end well for you or me. Try as I might, I can't think of how to go out on a happy note today."
Did you get it? Spoiler alert in one paragraph down.
Consider for a moment the difference between this person being a co-worker or friend as opposed to just someone you need to interact with, such as a sales clerk, bureaucrat behind the desk, police officer, judge in your case. If you don't know them and will never see them again, you can either assume this is their normal state of gloom or you might select instead the more empathetic interpretation and assume they are being adversely affected today and just cut them some slack.
The missing words in the quote above are: insomnia, slept, sleep-deprived, restlessness. The author is a chronic insomniac. By the way, if you have such issues the NYTimes is running a whole series of pieces on insomnia this week.
Today's point: Sometimes people are having a bad day for a good reason. Allowing for that interpretation instead of the 'evil bastard' explanation gives both them and you the space to avoid conflict and confrontation. Sometimes people are going to be in a dark place, why volunteer to join them? Give 'em a break. I wish I did more often.