Johnny Weeks had a gun pressed to his head. He was probably going to be dead in a few seconds. His crime was accidentally denting a drug dealer’s prized SUV with a runaway shopping cart. Bubbles watched helplessly as he pleaded pardon for his friend’s life. What happened next was a valuable life lesson from an unlikely source, a sociopath.
In this scene from HBO’s critically acclaimed The Wire, the drug dealer who’s SUV was dented, held a gun to Johnny’s head, threatening to kill him. At that very moment, Marlo, the drug boss came out of the house and saw the commotion. He looked at the member of his gang and without emotion said “Do it or don’t, but I gat some place to be!” Meaning pull the trigger or don’t, but make your decision now because I have an appointment I must get to.
I find that if you pay close attention in life, there are lessons everywhere. Even in this violent crime drama, where despicable acts were common place. The owner of the SUV lost all control when his material possession got damaged, to the point where he was willing to end a man’s life for a ding. He saw what happened as a “ problem.” But when Marlo came out and observed the same thing, he only saw “a situation” which either needed to be addressed or ignored, i.e. he didn’t let his emotions take over.
Life is filled with scenarios. As long as you are alive, you will experience thousands of scenarios or situations. Someone could tell you they love you, someone could hurl an insult at you, they are all “situations.” They are neutral. Situations only become problems when you add worry, anger, jealousy, defensiveness, anxiousness and all sorts of negative emotions that serve no good purpose. That’s when you end up with a problem.
Situations need your permission to become problems, don’t give them permission. Consider this. If your employer didn’t pay you on time, so you couldn’t pay your utility bill and thus you come home and your electricity is off, you’ve just experienced three situations. Think about this as life throws you a curve ball (i.e. changes the scene). You could light a candle at home, have a glass of wine and curl up next to a good book or you could blow a gasket and spit venom all night long.
I’ve racked up more days in the “I’m at peace” column by using this point of view. Besides, what has worry and anger ever solved besides creating more challenging situations? Don’t mislabel your situations as problems, that’s the first step in giving away your power to a situation which will then become a real problem. Problems don’t exist, unless you create them.
Sometimes when a situation occurs, you may want to ignore it. Other times you may want to take action. Both choices are fine and you should choose the best one that helps create as many preferable situations as possible. When deciding what action to take, remember you can “do it or don’t”, just don’t give your situations permission to become problems.
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