Sunday, 5 October 2008

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"

I've been having a difficult time at work. Working with values in a cynical public sector organisation is tough. I know it's right, but fighting a one-man battle can be difficult.

How do you counter that? Well, this weekend I found inspiration from four sources. The first was the support of friends - who uniformly offered help and sympathy. Thanks everyone.

The second was an e-mail from my Mum. My Mum is religious, and is praying for me. She was thinking about what to pray for and concluded that the best thing is not to change the situation, the people or even me, but my reaction to the situation. She prayed that I could find armour so that it would affect me less. She sent me a picture of a fireman to illustrate her point.

Meanwhile, an article in the Guardian from the child psychologist Stephen Briers illustrated this point further. If you can equip your child with emotional intelligence they are better protected against the slings and arrows of modern life. "How you interpret a situation is going to determine how you feel about it and what you do about it," he explains. This link between thought, feelings and behaviour is surely under-acknowledged in today's workplace.

And finally, I was on a run listening to one of the greatest songs of modern times, Empty Cans, by the Streets. This is a magnificent song essentially about perspective. The background is that the singer thinks his friends have stolen some money from him which they vigorously deny. The song explores two reactions to their explanations. One where he rejects them and the other where he accepts them with caution. In the second, accepting, version not only does he renew his friendship but he finds the money that he originally thought his friends had stolen. But this version begins with a change in key (in fact, it starts with one single note) well before he makes the decision to forgive his friend. In other words, it is his response to the situation that dictates his reaction that dictates the outcome.

This is related to the concept that Bloom works with, psychological flexibility. But the bottom line is that if we can learn this sort of resilience, and act on facts and values rather than emotions, we'd be better off. And so this week, that's what I'll be trying to do.

1 comment:

Senthil said...

"for there is nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so." William Shakespeare in Hamlet.