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Why does it rain on you?

A pandemic myth that spreads untold suffering and dysfunction

Of course, if you know some belief is a myth, it won't affect you negatively. It's only when you believe in a myth, not knowing it is a myth, that it causes you problems.

Why does it rain on you?

Few of us believe that when it rains, then we are being singled out as someone who should be rained on, right? We can take actions, if we like, to adjust to, to take advantage of, or protect ourselves from the rain, but we know it doesn't mean anything about us.

Somehow, however, we don't allow this everyday wisdom to apply to other circumstances where the same is true.

My friend Amy's boss rained on her, and she thought it meant something about her

Amy, who works for a company in Shanghai as a Chinese-English translator and interpreter, was waiting for her boss when he arrived for a meeting. Her colleague, who had been informed by Amy of the meeting had not shown up. The boss screamed at Amy and blamed her for not making sure the colleague would be on time for the meeting. Amy felt devastated, weak, and defensive, but forced herself to keep her mouth shut. She tried to let her upset go, as advised by her colleagues who told her that the boss did this to everybody from time to time. Yet, two weeks later when she talked with me, she was still upset.

Amy's boss is a rainmaker

Amy's boss is a machine that often gets stimulated to "make rain" in the form of blaming those who happen to be in front of him whenever his expectations are not met. That person may have had a mutually understood responsibility to fulfill his expectations...or they may not have had, as in the case with Amy.

Nonetheless, Amy's machinery believed that her boss' upset meant something negative about her that she needed to react to or defend. He was just "raining" and she believed that she either deserved or she was being mistreated by the rain. That's why she felt devastated, weak, and defensive.

But what if Amy had agreed to get her colleague to the meeting on time?

Regardless of the issue of whether it would make sense for Amy to promise something like this, would it mean anything negative about Amy when her boss rained on her for not making sure the colleague was there for the meeting?

Yes, Amy's failure to ensure that the colleague would be at the meeting could be seen as a stimulus for her boss' barrage. It could be that Amy could have done something different than what she did so that it would have been more likely for her colleague to show up. Would there be something to learn for the future? Regardless, it doesn't mean anything negative about Amy that her colleague didn't show up.

What could Amy do about her "abusive" boss?

Many problems are actually two, interrelated problems: an inner problem and an outer problem. Most often, we mistakenly focus first on the outer problem, hoping that will solve or alleviate the inner problem. It's much better to resolve the inner problem first. Then, if there's still an outer problem to handle, you'll be able to do it with more ease and likely effectiveness.

Amy's inner problem

Amy's inner problem is that her machinery is still stuck in the mistaken belief that it means something negative about her when her boss raises his voice and blames her. It means nothing about her. The boss is just "raining" and it happens to be falling on her. Inside this mistaken belief, Amy feels devastated, weak, and defensive whenever her boss rains and she is around.

Amy's outer problem

Assuming Amy has learned that when her boss rains on her that it means nothing about her, then she may still want to have fun seeing what she could do to adjust to, take advantage of, or protect herself from the possible rain. Many avenues are open to her after she has corrected her mistaken belief about her boss' rain. 

Of course, she could just quit her job and get another job, taking the chance that a new boss would not likely rain on her as much, if at all.

One example of how to address the external rain problem

Assuming Amy wants to enjoy other benefits by staying with her current company, she might try the following. This example is on the strong side. Many other less assertive and less risky conversations could also lead to a happy resolution for Amy and her boss. Consider this as one example of many possible Partnership Conversations she could initiate with her boss. The following assumes that Amy has arranged a time to speak with her boss privately and with adequate time set aside. It's important for her to choose her words well, speaking them non-judgmentally, with a partnership attitude and a good tone of voice.

"Boss, I've got a problem I don't know how to solve"

"Boss, I've got a problem I don't know how to solve. May I tell you about it to see if you have any suggestions?" (assuming a "yes")

"I really like working here. I hope that I can do a good job so that both you and others are happy with my performance. Then I can enjoy working here for a long time.

"But recently I discovered something that might make that impossible. I'm not sure yet. Let me explain. Remember the other day when the colleague didn't show up for the meeting on time and you were upset about that, which was understandable?

"To express your upset you raised your voice and harshly spoke many words to me that occurred for me as blaming and disrespectful. Maybe you had no intention for me to feel disrespected, but it felt that way anyway.

"So it seems that I may be left with a difficult choice. As I said. I really love working for you and this company. But if something like that happens again with me, especially if it's more than once, that may be a deal-breaker. I will have to quit my job. I really don't want to do that. 

"Others have told me that I should not be so sensitive when you get upset and blame others. But I don't know how to become insensitive to that. 

"Do you have any thoughts or ideas of how I could solve this problem? Maybe you could suggest something I could do differently so that it would be unlikely that you would ever speak again that way to me? What do you think?"

From this point Amy will need to continue in a partnership dialogue with her boss to see if an acceptable resolution can be achieved for both. The boss might even be open to trying out a pattern interruption technique as described in How to interrupt yourself.

They refused to accept my card. What's wrong with me?! What's wrong with them?!

When walking around here and there in Kunming, I often offer my card to strangers who are passing by, telling about my life-coaching class. Some accept my card and others reject it.

Automatic myths believed as truth by my machinery

When I first started doing this, I would feel good both about myself and the other person when they accepted my card. I would feel bad about myself and the other person when they rejected it.

Nevertheless, I conceptually knew that these beliefs, still entangled within my machinery, were not true. The only thing that I could honestly say about what it meant about me and about them was:

  • "It's great that I am willing to choose courage to offer my card to others, regardless of whether they accept it."

  • "It's great that others are choosing courage and taking care of themselves as best they know how by rejecting my card when they don't want it."

Re-training my machinery to know the truth, and letting go of the myth

Step by step, as I honored myself each time I offered my card to another, regardless of whether they accepted it, my machinery began to believe what was true, letting go of the myth.

Consequently, I felt great about myself and others every time I offered my card to others, whether they accepted it or not.

I had learned that whatever their response, it meant nothing negative about me and also nothing negative about them. They were just raining the way they rained.

Begin to notice...

Whenever you feel upset, ask yourself, "Am I upset because I believe that it shouldn't rain on me?"

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