What’s My Pet Peeve and Why Do I Have One?
A Case Study from Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life
The Urban Dictionary defines Pet Peeve as “Something that maybe a bit annoying to most people but is very annoying or upsetting to a particular person. Related to the word peeve meaning an annoyance or grievance, a pet peeve is something that a person has adopted (like a pet) to be extra annoying or upsetting to them.”
Pet Peeves become a problem whenever we allow our actions to be ruled by them, and unfortunately, I have a pet peeve. Luckily, I also have fourteen “river rules” to help me turn that peeve into a current worth exploring.
So what’s my pet peeve? It has to do with the book I wrote, A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life, which to me is more that a book. It is a guide to living in harmony with the currents around me. It has gotten five star reviews, and been called by readers unknown to me:
A simple, yet original and thought-provoking guide to taking charge of your life by recognizing the “laws of the river.” This book will appeal to the pragmatic, as well as the spiritually-minded. It doesn’t offend, yet cuts through cliche’s of human behavior to the principles of cause and effect.—Carol Osborn
Original is a key word here because my pet peeve has to to with how people who have not read my book tend to judge my book, or even if they have read my book seem to not fathom it. Let me share one example:
One of my childhood friends came to visit for a week. I had sent her my book as a Christmas present several years ago, and as far as I know, she never read it, yet she poured through dozens of self-help magazines while visiting me. When she left for home, she left nearly a dozen behind. I flipped through them only to find the same rehashed and to my mind trite articles on the power of attraction, positive thinking, goal setting, indecision, procrastination, etc. that swamp the self-help market. I couldn’t help but wonder why she devoured $15 magazines, but said nary a word about my book.
Even more irritating was her constant talking about men. Men that she had broken up with. Men that she wanted to date. Men who said they loved her, but really were using her. I found it all exhausting. She’d ask “Why can’t I meet a good man?” And I’d think, “Rule Ten covers that.” She exclaim, “Why do I keep falling for the same dumb guy?” And I’d think, “Rule 9 and Rule 7.” She’s moan, “What’s wrong with me?” And I’d think, “Rules One through Fourteen.”
My pet peeve was in danger of destroying a relationship that had lasted since high school.
Then one evening as I was contemplating my own bad mood, it occurred to me that perhaps my irritation over her disregarding of the rules might be a Reflection (Rule Three) of my own disregarding of those rules. After all, my Focus (Rule Four) was concentrated on everything that irritated and annoyed me, so no wonder I felt irritated and annoyed.
Next, Cause and Effect (Rule One) reminded me that “A problem is only a problem if I can do something about it. Everything else is a fact of life, so get over it.” Moreover, “We can’t change people into what they are not. However, the moment we stop trying to change people, we begin to find the energy to change ourselves. And whenever we change ourselves, we automatically change the circumstances wherein we find ourselves.”
I began to think about the Power of Process (Rule Seven) along with its 80/20 corollary, and remembered that 80 percent of my irritation was being caused by only 20 percent of her actions, so perhaps I should focus my attention on the 20 percent of her actions that produced 80 percent of our friendship, then I recalled what had made us friends in the first place. We had bonded during those awkward teenage years over a love of games. We had been Dungeon and Dragon junkies back when it was a game played with graph paper, a single book, and a bag full of multi-sided dice. Feeling inspired, I got all my old games out, and suddenly, we were both laughing over past stories and creating wonderful new memories.
But the rules also said that I wasn’t finished plumbing the depths of my peevishness. There are no one-size-fits-all quick fix techniques in the rules. The rules tell me that “feelings are measuring sticks, and the readings they provide can help us to navigate life’s rapids.” In other words, my peevishness was a message from within myself to myself, and if I didn’t listen to the message, I would keep crashing into more peevishness.
So I took a hard look at what was it that bugged me about all those articles. On their surface, they gave good advice, but to me it was such obvious advice. They just skimmed the surface of a deeper rule; a rule that once understood made such advice unnecessary. The articles made me sad, and my inability to communicate the power of the rules, made me frustrated. It turns out that feeling sad and frustrated makes me peevish.
So I asked myself, “When was I most successful in teaching people about the rules?” Oh right, it was during the ten years I taught at a small business college, where my students and I read brilliant books together and discussed cause and effects, focus, reflection, persuasion, communication, leadership, and more. The ten years in which my rules came to me, and during which I felt compelled to write a book about their effects. I compared my life now as a caregiver, with my life then as a teacher, and eventually realized what was missing, my students.
I missed having students challenge the rules only to come back later with a story that confirmed them. I missed the growth, the give and take, the trial and error, and their budding confidence. So, what to do? Should I walk into a local colleges and say, “I have developed an amazing fourteen-week course that can change peoples lives, and I am looking for a place to teach it.”? Not terribly practical. Luckily, I also taught computer classes at that college, and the Internet has grown enough for me to start my own online school–which is now complete and ready for enrollment. You can drop by and audit the lesson examining Rule One for free.
Interesting sidebar, as I began to focus on creating my school, posting curriculum, and creating videos, my mood brightened, my energy grew, and many of my other gripes (crumbs left on the counter, toilet seats left up, and such) stopped bothering me so much. Finally, my little pet peeves had taken their rightful place as measuring stick designed to help me build a worthwhile life.
I have yet to see a self-help article capable of doing that.
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