Sometimes I help Jack sell things on-line, and usually the transactions go smoothly, but the other day he sold a big piece of equipment to a fellow in South Africa and it looked like the buyer had backed out (after much effort and some expense to crate-up and get the piece ready for shipping). It appeared that he lost a big sale, and had spent a lot of time on something that now needed to be undone.
After the initial negative feelings, Jack and I both visualized the transaction going through (and tried to keep turning away from what appeared to be a lost cause, anger at the callousness of the on-line auction company to our plight, and feelings of helplessness). The words, “Imagine what you want, not what you fear” kept coming into my head and that is when I noticed my not-so-enlightened tendency to want to express my displeasure at being “wronged” by saying things (even in my own mind) like, “Can you believe that they……! I will never do business with them again. They are a big, uncaring company….”. On and on the petty little mind wants to get in its 2 cents. It doesn’t care that this “venting” is not only unproductive of a happy outcome, and really ends up costing a lot more than 2 cents, it just wants to be heard.
It is extremely costly to play the victim; to let others know how helpless we are in the hope of getting them to side with us (or feel sorry for us) or commiserate in some way. This is not the same as facing a difficult situation and talking it over with another to shed some light on it, or see our dilemma in a new and better way. Looking for a solution is a very different conversation than grumbling about injustice.
What we did do, was to talk about how good that company was to work with, how honest and helpful people were, and how easily this would be resolved. We wrote to the buyer with a sense of love and caring instead of suspicion and anger. I’m happy to let you know that everything did come around perfectly, and we even got a beautiful note from the buyer saying that we had restored his faith in humanity.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—-and most fools do.” Dale Carnegie