Years ago, my little brother used to holler up and down that he was the only one who ever had to do the dishes. “Why do ‘I’ always have to do them? How come I’m the ONLY one who ever has to do them? Nobody does dishes around here except me!”
So I said, “Ok, if you say so. From now on nobody does dishes around here but you.” It wasn’t long before the difference between the perception and the reality sunk in.
Sometimes at the Neighbourhood Complaints Department a person will go on a rant with a story about how life the universe and everything is victimizing them, particularly our neighbourhood. Same story each time, different details, but the set-up, the crisis, the clues and the causes are all there for anyone to hear.
“Those kids do it on purpose! They have no respect! I even told that one’s mother that her daughter was a Dirty Little !@#$@#$! They don’t graffiti anyone else’s property! They don’t ruin anyone else’s garden! I have to chase them away all the time, warn them when they get too close. I keep an eye on them. Make sure I know what they are up to. They have no respect for me! They’re deliberately targeting me!”
And if you hear it often enough, it makes you want to ask, “Why is that? Why do they only target you?”
I wish a spell of doing dishes would help in these situations. It would sure give me a break at the cafe if all the angry people took turns working it off, but there is only one person in that story who can change it, and it’s the person telling the story.
Imagine a different scenario. Imagine that you don’t chase them away. Imagine that you tell them what kind of flowers those are, where they come from, why they’re special. Imagine that you help those kids with something or other. Imagine that you ask them for help with something, give them five bucks for their trouble. Imagine that you tell them about upcoming opportunities like the skate park or the summer camp.
If you can’t IMAGINE it, you can’t DO it.
And if YOU can’t do it, why should THEY?