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You can single-handedly create a causal relation between two things that are currently unconnected — a word and an emotion, a song and an extreme weather event, wearing a certain color and winning the lottery. What cause would you link to what effect, and why?

You could, but would it be accurate? It’s pretty hard to actually prove a causal effect between two non-factual events.

One of my favorite sayings and beliefs is that what you worry about is seldom what “gets” you; it’s what you’re not expecting that sneaks up and bites you in the a**. That’s almost the opposite of what you’re asking us to consider.

Being serious for a moment, I’ve learned that you can’t change other people’s behavior, only your own (and sometimes that’s hard!). But I have found that when I don’t react as expected (or with a knee-jerk response), I do notice that how another person responds to me is different. It may take a while for a relationship to change, but it’s more effective than butting heads or play the same old game.

When teaching, I found that to be true, too. Sometimes “act out” just to get a response from other kids or adults. When you don’t respond as they expect, you can change the outcome of the event. Anger is rarely a useful response. Especially when they’re young, they don’t necessarily understand the cause-effect relationship between what they’ve done and why an adult would get mad about it. Trying to see things from their point of view can help shape a useful reaction.

On a lighter, but more irritating note, I know that if I have on black clothing and get anywhere near a bleach product, I will get white spots on my clothes, no matter how careful I am.

If I am wearing something like an absorbent material and I fry something, I know I will get grease spatters on me and they will probably never come out.

If I put a pot on high on the stove and leave the kitchen for a moment (which may become longer), it will boil over, or the contents burn. On Thanksgiving, I burned my home-made cranberry sauce twice and had two burned pans to wrestle with later, and tiny dark specks in my sauce that I salvaged. I only meant to leave it for a moment, but something distracted me… (So I’ve obviously not learned my lesson well enough!)

So are those causes and effect, or shear stupidity on my part? I’m afraid I know the answer.

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