As I brushed my hair this morning I noticed that it was full of someone’s hair. At first I thought it must be Marie’s, so I grabbed some hair on the top of my head and about a dozen strands appeared in my hand. OK, it’s Day 17 of chemo and my hair is now starting to go, as predicted.
“What a pain to actually lose my hair,” I remarked to myself in the mirror. But, my scalp and face are just a little tender, not really physically painful, so it’s the loss of something I want to keep that is painful – a real psychological pain of failed expectations.
The body pains I feel from the expected effects of chemotherapy are real physical pains. Hair loss and body pains are happening to me, but how I respond to these pains are my choices. On the one hand, I can choose misery, but on the other hand, I can choose acceptance, creativity, and yes, even authentic joy.
Cami and Bill gave me this t-shirt for my birthday in April of this year. Grumpy apparently had learned as a member of the Seven-Dwarf team, that regardless of his great or ingenious ideas, the way he chose to interact with others was to make consistent choices of being grumpy — a charming role in a Disney story, but toxic in real life.
Whatever degree of genius I have (everybody has a unique kind), I came to realize that being grumpy to meet my needs was a choice of misery. And I wanted to help all my family, and my clients gain that awareness for themselves. So, it’s safe to give Dad/Grandpa a t-shirt as a symbol of that theme.
This theme has been in our family for over 25 years. It states that whether pain or talent is the precursor, misery or joy is a choice. And at various times in our family life I’ve insisted on implementing the Non-Misery Rule:
I will not let another person use misery to meet his or her needs through me.
To simplify an understanding of Misery, I’ve divided it into three basic types and contrasted it with Joy to meet needs:
I believe that Zones 1, 2, and 3 are what I call “The 3 Habits of Wannabe Effective People” (anger, guilt, detachment) and are the basis, the foundation, of almost all bad behaviors, and most all addictions. And they develop naturally in life unless someone challenges us with the Non-Misery Rule, and with practice to gain skills in making the Zone 4 choice.
So another way of accepting the Zone 4 Challenge in my personal life is to do “speed reading” of the emotional choices that are being made in the moment by another, in order to meet needs through me. And if someone is using detachment, anger, or guilt to meet his/her needs, I will follow a sequence like this:
- Recognize and acknowledge the underlying need
- Say NO to the misery choice of the moment to meet the needs (set boundaries)
- Say YES with respect for the relationship
- Engage him/her with questions leading to Zone 4 solutions, to meet the need in a win-win way
This sequence is a blend between my own view of the anatomy of a personal choice, and then integrated with the work of others, including Willam Ury in, “The Power of a Positive No” , and the work by William Glasser in, “Take Effective Control of Your Life,” and “Choice Theory,” plus “Reality Therapy.”
I will have much more to say about this, and am grateful for any time I have left to say it. In the meantime, I go to bed tonight being grateful that I don’t have to be grumpy, despite the pains I feel. I’m even getting offers from others about creative hats to wear on my hairless head.