Friday, July 4, 2008


Things happen to us. Sometimes we make them happen as when we go after an idea, provoke people to action, incur karmic rewards and debts. Cause and effect, you know.

Often, we don’t have control over what happens. Rain or shine for example is out of our hands. Sometimes, too, people’s reaction to us can be as unpredictable as the weather. They may return dagger looks for smile, barbed wire for cake – or vice versa. Who knows why?

In any case, we can choose how to respond to things.

We can, for example, either bless the rain or curse it. Or go about our nonchalant way.

I react to things two ways – by thought and by action. The two do not always synchronize.

There is this someone in the office who would ask me to do some or most of her writing. When she enters my room with yet another piece of paper, a sheepish smile, and, God forbid, irresistible Meiji Black chocolate to “lubricate” the deal, I might groan inwardly: “Oh, darn, here she is again. She relies too much on me … she does not even try to DIH.” But outwardly, I might smile, accept the sheet she proffers, and say “No problem,” while pretending to ignore the yummy lubricant which she would put down on my desk that would then trigger a ‘push and shove’ game which I always lose (or win, depending on how you see it).

Sometimes, it bothers me. Sometimes, it doesn’t. It depends on my mood. Or how steeped in or jittery I am over my own assignments.

I have little control over what I think – angry or happy or uncaring. My thoughts are conditioned responses, difficult though not impossible to change. But what I DO I can deliberate. Or CHOOSE.

This is a principle articulated well by Stephen Covey (Seven Habits of Highly-Effective People). But he must have simply repackaged a universal truth.

Where I am influences my reactions. At home where I can let my hair down, be the witch I sometimes am when nobody -- except maybe “just my children” -- is looking, I am more prone to act impulsively, aka shoddily. Elsewhere, where I feel obliged to be nice, to be liked, to be the harbinger of “sweetness and light and everything nice" -- my actions are well-chosen.

This is why I can be two different persons at home and outside of it.

Should I hope for the two sides of me to sync? To be able to say exactly what I think, do exactly what I want (e.g. wring someone’s neck or break the computer screen to smithereens) and let the pieces of broken glass fall where they may.

Would that be liberating? Or would that further put me in bondage – a bondage to my own selfish indulgences and dark impulses. Would that only liberate me from efforts to be the better person I can be?

And who is to say which is the prevalent me: the hell hag? or the fairy godmother? The one who would have wanted to shove the piece of paper up whose you know what? Or the one who would accept the extra work and do it well?

When she’s good she’s very very good

And when she’s bad she’s horrid.


Sexy Mom said...

as you said--it is your choice. right now you ask the question, but still you have the final say. what is it that will really make you happy? you have spent a lot of time deliberating, sometimes doing things which you really do not want to do. or do you find satisfaction doing what you do not like doing? (lol)

well, you have your own life now, finally-retired! you can continue to be a different person inside and outside your home, you can synch. it's really your CHOICE!

lei said...

maybe we can show more of our dark sides to our home or closest friends because in our subconscious mind, we knew that they will understand.

and we tried to smile or say yes/okay to others though we felt the other way sometimes, because we do not want to hurt them or we do not want them to think that we're unkind or snob.

it's my case usually :D

noemi said...

I know I have control over my actions and even thoughts. The actions of the other person is one I have no control of. I am quite direct most of the time. I act almost the same way to friends and family though.

myepinoy said...

I checked the definition of horrid. One of the definitions given by Merriam Webster is a: inspiring horror: Shocking.

Whatever "inspiring horror" means, it sounds great to me though... LOL

According to Kent M. Keith, Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. The frankness part is sometimes easier said than done lalo na sa Pinoy culture...

Remember Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Anna said...

it all boils down to one thing: choice. but then sometimes choosing can also be such a burden, no? oh well, c'est la vie

Rudy said...

It's better to show your dark side sometimes, that way people won't take advantage of you. God knows how many of those opportunistic vipers are lurking out there, waiting for the right moment to bare their fangs and strike when you least expect it.

Be well my friend...

freeze said...

those sudden outbursts are but acceptable as long as we strive to be better, and that is a constant struggle. ;)

dimaks said...

i am confident, you can be in between if not totally synchronized.

Heart of Rachel said...

There is always a choice but I'm not really in the position to give you an advice. I find some difficulty about it myself. To avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings, I often find myself reluctantly saying yes or agreeing to a favor.

exskindiver said...

my dear mentor,
you see, this is why i love reading your blog.
when you post your thoughts so honestly and cleanly--i feel like it is a "better" me talking to myself through you.
no kidding.
your line about acting shoddily when it is "just the children"
that has given me something to think about.

It is all about choices isn't it.
There are many sides and facets to most people.
We can only pray that we choose our better sides more often than not.

I have missed your wisdom.
I have not been able to read blogs lately due to life.
But today, I stayed in.
literally cooped up in my bedroom with my laptop.
Steve suggested that i get up and stretch lest my buttocks gets welded to the seat.

hope all is well.

paolo said...

whenever i think about giving a slew of rants on people that probably dont see me capable, i step aback and say, "now what if i had a gun... how liberating would that be."

but it never is - not for a gun, not for raising my voice either. it's not worth doing what i'd feel guilty about the next morning. hence, i'd go for the fairy godmother- but a blunt, densely honest, borderline frank fairy godmother who'd tell Cinderella in a joke how pretty a frog she could become.

Let's hope she gets it...

Toe said...

What about middle ground? Say no with a smile and offer her a cookie. :)

bw said...

We all have the so called manifest personality don't we? We act differently at home than outside. I call that stress relief hehe :)

Sometimes it could be cultural - we are a hospitable people, can't refuse a request of a friend, always abide by the pakikisama rule.

In other cultures people give more importance to themsleves. It is common for them to draw lines aound themsleves or set up personal boundaries so others will know if they have crossed the line or not. They feel it is part of the process of others knowing and respecting them.

pining said...

unfortunately there are some people like these; they don't know when to stop. In my opinion, it's up to you to stop it when you think enough is enough-- just say no and show her what you're made of...

Take care Anna
Best of luck :-)

julie said...

You can be both, depending on the situation. Ganyan ako.

At least, you can do away with doing what you want to :)

Leah said...

Hay, to be good or evil is the question. Maybe a devil's advocate?

I am sometimes like that myself, always trying to be a goody good one - it makes things easier to manage. However, there are times we need to put the foot down.

Belle said...

where i work, anna, they say what they mean even if you are a friend. heck, i was turned in for humming by someone who i considered a friend.

i had been burnt in the past by several people who i called friends. Now, i am wiser and i say what i mean, so that invitation to the province was true...hehe.

rhodora said...

Hello, my friend! How have you been?

Me naman, I would be asked by co-workers, friends and relatives to compose letters, oratorical pieces, speeches and even love letters. hehehe.

At first, I didn't mind, pero nang tumagal ... naku, nakakairita na, ha. Dapat yata maningil ako ng retainer's fee. :)

I guess you and I should learn how to say 'no'.

kathy said...

I guess there would always be impulsive actions over which we sometimes do not seem to have any control. But there are times when the "better" part of us analyzes the situation first and also takes into consideration how those actions would affect the people concerned. I'm not a psychologist, but I think this is where a person's EQ spells the difference between impulsive behavior and hmm...shall we call it "rational" behavior?

Abaniko said...

You intrigue me so. I want to see the hell hag in you. :)

Glenn Palmer said...

Love your blog. You seem to be exploring the same areas I want to post about on my blog. You also exhibit the same depth of thought and spirtuality I hope to achieve. I'll definitely be back.

One of the things I learned from zen, is how to use the pause. Whenever something happens to us, there is a little pause internally while we process and decide how to respond. Once we respond, it is very hard to change course. If we can catch that little hiccup of time before the response kicks in, choice can be regained. The really cool thing is that, once you know the pause exists, you can expand it. Ultimately, even what we think are automatic reactions are choices.

chateau a.k.a. imom said...

Another thought-provoking post. Guilty ako nito.

I like the comment above ^ by glenn palmer. So wise, yet so practical.

byoc said...

What a neat post - I am so guilty of acting one way at home and another in public - why is it that we act so crappy to the ones we love and dote on those who mean nothing to us?

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