Today was a long expected holiday in the middle of the week, May Day.
I had made plans to do spend some quality time with family.
After breakfast, was initiating a conversation with my near teen daughter, when she blurted out the much dreaded statement, “ I hate it when you are at home Papa!. All my plans go topsy-turvy“.
I was terribly disappointed. I was upset. Complained immediately to my wife, that I did not like the way our daughter was talking to me. My wife made her say sorry to me.
The whole episode took less than a minute and I was upset (read no smile on my face, tense facial muscles, short shallow breaths) for about 5 minutes, despite the apology.
Slowly, I concentrated on my breath and started observing it. Over the next four minutes, my breathing pattern changed, I became a bit more calmer. When I asked myself why I got upset with my daughter, a young kid, who would usually speak her mind, at this age, and that too, all she was telling me was that her plans are getting changed ( and I am the cause for it), I reached the following two conclusions:
1. I was guilty.
The last ten days had been very hard at work, negotiating contract with a customer, performance appraisals, attending a training program etc. I came home late everyday, well past the usual bed time of my children. Said a cursory “hello, how was your day today?”; ate my dinner alone and then started watching IPL cricket match, to unwind.
I was indeed feeling guilty that I had not spent enough time with them, talking or playing with them.
2. I had expectations
I naively felt that my children would jump up the fact that I am at home today, and would make up for the lost, past ten days! I expected them to understand, that I was looking forward to this mid week break and “make up” for the past few days. It wasn’t the case at all. My daughter was just the messenger to bring me back to the ground level and tell me that my expectations are entirely mine, and they are not realistic!
I was listening to a podcast on NLP by Andy Smith recently, where he says, usually, we blame the world because, we place ourselves at the “effect” side of the equation, not on the “cause” side of the equation. I was able to relate to this easily and the above incident. I initially felt “what my daughter told me, upset me” but on deeper analysis of my own feelings, I realised, ” I was upset, and what my daughter said was just not the cause!” The cause was my own guilt feelings, and expectations.
The “cause & effect equation” is a simple concept. No one, not even dreaded disease like cancer, can upset you or is the cause of our problems. They are all the effects of our own complex psychological, behavioural attitudes, beliefs & thought patterns. So, rather than putting ourself at the “effect” side of the equation, and feel helpless, miserable, have a sense of despair, it is infinitely better to take charge of our lives by putting ourselves in the “cause” side. Your customer or your colleagues, will treat you exactly the way you want to be treated. Don’t blame them, but change your behaviour and you will see they will change their behaviour towards you.
Would love to hear your thoughts!