As the Twig Is Bent

October 24, 2017 - 4 minutes read

As I began driving to work this morning I had a random thought.  “This is going to be a bad day.”

Whoops!

How did that saboteur enter my brain?  When I walk into my office would I ever say to a coworker, “Good morning!  This is going to be a bad day”?

Of course not.  I seem to only send that kind of negative message to myself.

It has been said, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”  Should I allow the twig of my thoughts to grow into the tree of a really bad day?

I assume that you are thinking, “No.  Of course not.  Have positive thoughts, Alan, so that you‘ll have a great day.”

And you’re right.  I agree with you.  So as I drove to work I thought of everything I was looking forward to throughout my day.  Frankly, at the top of my list was lunch.

At my desk, partly to avoid actual work, I thought about another statement that almost all of us use often, and this phrase is one of my pet peeves.

“You made me feel . . .”

Really?  You “made me” feel good?  You “made me” feel awful?  You “made me” feel like a million dollars?

If I have to, I’ll choose number three.  But my point is that whatever you do is entirely within your control, not mine.  But how I respond is entirely within my control, not yours.  So you cannot “make me” feel anything.  “Invite?” Perhaps.  “Make?”  No.

From time to time in my business career I’ve been involved in litigation, which is always a waste of time and money.  In many cases the goal of the other side is to “make me” feel miserable.  They haven’t succeeded yet.  I remind myself that I enjoy the thrill of being deposed (as a witness, not as a king).  I believe that a trial is terrific theater, with a real audience and real results.  I appreciate the skill of the better attorney (who I always hope is mine).

When my alma mater USC plays football against Notre Dame, occasionally Notre Dame gets lucky and wins, just to upset me (as they did last Saturday).  But I always remember that I choose to be upset.  I also choose to be delighted when USC wins.  I also remind myself that no one is forcing me to either watch the game or care about the outcome.

I recently received the first really negative comment on this blog.  The comment was anonymous, and began:

“I read your blog often and find it to be awful.”  The four following paragraphs elaborated on that theme.

I admit that my immediate reaction was ninety-five percent rage, five percent shame.  But my second reaction was to wonder, if my blog was so awful to Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, why did he or she keep reading it week after week?  Hmmm.  No doubt an internet troll trying to “make me” feel anger or shame.  Instead, I felt pleased.

Well, Troll, if you are still reading my blog, I’d be happy to hear from you again.  I hope you don’t “feel” frustrated because you didn’t “make me” feel angry or ashamed.  After reading your negative comment, I felt delighted that you and several thousand others are regular readers.

Of course, now that I’ve shared my secret with you, you might not bother to write to me again.  I’m okay with that too.

Today has started well.  It’s going to be a great day.

Alan

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