Sunday, October 28, 2018

Do not deal in the trivial

The reason that I upkeep an ever-evolving list of rules is to constantly improve upon the strategy that I apply to live my life. I believe that life is a zealous teacher. You either pay attention to the lessons you are forcibly taught or you will be taught a much more aggressive and painful lesson. While I do not believe in avoiding pain (a different rule for another post on another day), I do my best to take my hurts effectively the first time through.
I have been really struggling with a whole list of small niggling type problems. My larger issues still exist and I am working on addressing them methodically. Still, I feel very overwhelmed all the time because I am constantly battling every little frustrating nuisance that comes my way. This is a very effective trick of the devil. He is in the details after all.
At times it seems as if I am beset on all sides. I turn my back to put out a fire and a snake bites me on the ankle. I turn to treat that wound and someone takes the opportunity to stab me multiple times in the back. Now angry, engaged in battle, envenomed, and aware that the fire is raging out of control I cannot address any single problem effectively. The chances of me handling all of them are decreased exponentially. I am going to fall under the onslaught. Most people would.
Fires, venomous snakes, and people brandishing knives are all major issues. If we remove the drama of our emotions and look at our problems objective how many of them are truly serious? In my case, many of the things that really press my buttons and get a reaction are in fact extremely trivial. Things like death, car wrecks, or major health issues come so easily to me. Let Whitneigh be emotionally clingy and I am off my game. Have Taila include her boyfriend in our lives at a time I am mentally frazzled and I will have a complete meltdown. This is profoundly stupid.
These "problems" are trivial. They aren't truly problems at all. Honestly, it costs more energy to acknowledge trivial situations than they are worth. Once I have invested the energy in an unreasonable reaction I have made the proverbial mountain out of a molehill.
Knowing all this, why do I continue to make the same mistake of involving myself in the trivial? The honest answer to that is a lack of a sense of control. I cannot control the major things in life. This causes a basic psychological insecurity. I then overcompensate and try to control the trivial details of my life.  This is unreasonable. The people around me see the insecurity. They see unreasonable reactions. The trivial suddenly has actually evolved into a serious problem with no simple solution.
How do we address such a basic psychological weakness? I spend a lot of time acknowledging and addressing the basic insecurity at the fact that there are many things in life that I have no control over or cannot immediately remedy. I try to have an honest view of my own ability and my power over my life and the lives of the people I love.
Then, after addressing the flaw, I can decide not to deal with the trivial issues that come my way. As an example, Whitneigh freaks out at the slightest mess in the house. We have a 3-year-old here the majority of the time. To me, a mess is now a fact of life. It stresses her out and can actually send her into a panic. I then get entirely frustrated with her reaction. Just like the mess isn't truly a problem, Whitneigh's reaction is not a problem unless I choose to react to it and make it one. The very moment I engage it becomes a conflict. My reaction gives the trivial importance. If I ignore it then, like many problems, it goes away all on its own. I think of this as rising above the fray.
The trick to doing this is controlling my reactions. I take a few moments and decide if the issue I am dealing with is serious or a trivial matter. Unless the situation is life threating a reaction is seldom a good idea. By maintaining composure in the face of any adversity I can appear cool, calm, and collected at all times. This demeanor inspires great respect and admiration in others. That helps reinforce confidence which lowers personal insecurities.
 
That is why Do not deal in the trivial is rule number #21.
This rule has an interesting origin in one of the coolest members of my family. My Mom passed the story down to me so I am completely certain it has mutated and evolved in the telling. It is also possible it wasn't witnessed or told to her first hand. I do tend to believe the lessons she taught.

Once upon a time, My mother went to visit my Uncle Tate. She went to his house for breakfast. While she was there his daughter came by with her son. Diane asked Uncle Tate if he would mind watching his grandson for the day. She went on to give a laundry list of reasons why it was important to her which ended with," I have been so busy that my husband and I haven't had time to be intimate." Uncle Tate declined in the simplest of ways. He smiled and said," I don't deal in the trivial." He stuck by this and did not watch the kid. This is both right and regal. Uncle Tate was extremely well put together and a very cool man. I miss him, but living this rule helps me feel his influence in my life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Do Not Argue

I have very recently come into a fantastic piece of wisdom. It came as a shock to a man who loves words, but there is almost nothing accomplished by argument or debate. Since nothing can be gained there is no point in wasting time on it. In point of fact, the effort you waste on argument could be better used to accomplish your goals.
This is counter to everything about my logical, pragmatic nature. I am reasonable. I enjoy being reasoned with. I enjoy the art of conversational controversy because of this. The argument of the "opposing" side is often educational. I either realize there is another perspective worth considering or I gain an insight into the psychology of the person presenting their side. This receipt of information is a win-win.
Until recently, I believed there was an advantage in presenting the counterpoint. In most cases, this is completely wrong. The nature of humans is to work to their own self-interest. Because of this, most people use an argument as a gambit to muddy the waters of an issue and then act the same way they had intended before the debate began. All the conversations accomplish is to declare the opposition. You are exposing your own perspective. This is rarely to your own benefit.
Google defines an argument as:
   1.an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.
   2.a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.
When you are trying to accomplish a goal, why would you spend effort on anyone with opposing views? Instead, when someone states their opposition unless their authority over you dictates otherwise, it saves time and effort to simply ignore them, If the opposition has sufficient authority over you it is likely better to either abandon your position or forge ahead and ask forgiveness rather than permission. By doing this, you will prove that you were either right or wrong with a supreme economy of words. Either way, you save showing the disrespect of stating or repeating your opinion and the reasons you think it is correct.
Being right is normally a matter of showing rather than telling. If you are in the position of advising someone of the misstep they are about to make, it is often better to stand back and allow the mistake to come to pass than causing a breach of courtesy in arguing something the other person has already made their mind up to. Your actions will prove out right in their own time. If you fail, saving the argument prevents the righteous party from having the ability to say," I told you so." No one enjoys that.
An interesting side effect of this discovery is that argument does have one purpose. It can so completely cloud an issue with divisiveness and emotion that the event or idea you are opposing may never actually come to pass. You can tie up your opponent's efforts and time so thoroughly that they are too mentally, emotionally, or even physically exhausted to put in the effort required to see things through to the end. An argument used this way isn't truly about the wordplay. It is about strategic application of force.
Since this epiphany, I find myself much less tired. I am not involved in any needless conversation. I am not defending my plans against those that disagree. This extra energy allows me to get more done. This is the best argument against arguing.
Incidentally, this is Rule #18.
Unless it is for entertainment or distraction, do not argue.