Is Someone Driving You Crazy?

A new student, who is just starting down the river, sent me an e-mail that ended, “I hope you have a section on how to not let (my co-worker) drive my crazy.” I know that she meant it as a joke. But strangely enough the rules of the river do deal with how to not let people “drive you crazy.”

Before we begin, let me make it clear that I am not here to give Dear Abby answers to any problems. My goal as guide is to help you to navigate any problems you encounter using the rules of the river. So let’s use her joke as an example to see how it’s done.

In order to use the rules correctly, we always begin with rule one: Cause and Effect, which tells us that everything has a cause, and if we try to change an effect without clearly understanding that effect’s causes then we will often let situations “drive us crazy.” Remember Eistein’s definition of insanity: “Expecting to solve any problem from the same level of thinking that you were at when you created it.” The phrase “level of thinking,” takes us directly to rule two and the Power of Belief.

The Power of Belief simply reminds us that our beliefs cause us to see the river not as it is, but how we belive it to be, and so we quickly turn to rule three, the Power of Reflection, and ask the river to reflect any beliefs that might be limiting us.

The Power of Reflection tells us that whatever we say about others reflects our own belief system, so let’s look at the words used by my new student and see what relection might say about them. “I hope you have a section on how to not let (my co-worker) drive my crazy.”

Well, reflection might translate, “Why do I give my co-worker the power to drive me crazy?”

Remember, a problem is only a problem if you can do something about it. Everything else is a fact of life, so get over it. Well, by reflecting my words about my co-worker so that they center on my responsibility in the situation, I can begin looking for a cause that I can influence and maybe even find some tools that can help me stop giving anyone the power to drive me crazy. And in order to find insights into the question, “Why do I give my co-worker the power to drive me crazy,” we have the rest of the rules.

Perhaps it’s rule four: the power of focus. Do I allow my focus to get sidelined by others? Am I focusing on the negative instead of the possitive? Am I focusing on what I can’t do rather than what I can?

Or perhaps it’s rules five, six, or seven: strategy, process, and vacuum. When we have no strategy, it is easy for the issues of others to send us off course, or for co-workers to work at cross purposes. When we, or the people we work with, disregard process, we often skip important steps, stop making progress, or give up without trying. When we fail to account for vacuum, we often feel overwhelmed by others as they load us up with their needs leaving no room for our own.

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As we work through all the rules, including responsibility, contribution, attraction, entropy, understanding, persuasion and least effort, you will be able to create your own Dear Abby solution to the problems, people, and situations that you empower to “drive you crazy.” For example, can you use the tools of persuasion to influence your co-worker to create a more effective strategy, stop micro-managing, or understand how their actions are affecting their relationships? More importantly, is it the best use of your limited energy and time to even try to create a presentation that effectively persuades? If the situation is not important to your journey, then maybe your best solutions are to get over it, vent with a trusted friend, and laugh.

Let’s face it, the world will always be full of people who “drive us crazy” until we learn to drive ourselves sane.

In the meantime, take one rule at a time, give it one week’s strict attention, and leave all the other rules to their ordinary chance. Know that as your guide, I made the tools of persuasion the thirteenth rule for a reason, so don’t skip the process and try to practice the tools of persuasion without first mastering the tools of understanding.

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