When They’re Not Cooperating

With You

Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone and everything just cooperated with us?

If our children got ready to leave the house in a timely manner, ate their food, were ready for bed when we wanted them to be, and went straight to sleep without calling out.

If our computer wouldn’t crash right in the middle of an important project.

If our colleague would agree with our ideas and be a team-player.

If our partner would be on the same page as us, fully aligned with our parenting approach, creating a consistent front.

Who or what do you wish were cooperating with you right now?

It’s completely reasonable to want cooperation from the people, objects and body parts in our life – but does the desire for cooperation actually work?

In my experience, the answer is no. Wanting someone or something to cooperate is an entirely futile waste of my time. It has no positive impact, it doesn’t change them, but it certainly causes me stress, frustration and exasperation.

What’s helped me massively is to see the word cooperation differently. To pop a hyphen in and say it in my mind as co – operation – i.e. operating alongside.

My colleague isn’t cooperating with me –> I see that he’s operating alongside me. Playing by his rules, making sense of the world from his perspective.

My computer isn’t cooperating with me –> This is its way of operating. There’s an error in its operating system or hardware and this is the consequence.

Why does this shift matter?

Because it dissolves so much of the stress and frustration. It allows me to see reality clearly and move towards accepting it as it is – and from that position of open-eyed acceptance, I’m actually more likely to take empowering action. I’m more likely to have a healthy, honest conversation with my colleague. I’m more likely to take the computer to the Apple store and get it looked at promptly.

When I can see each person and object as operating as it does, without my story that it should be different, I then cooperate with life much more efficiently.

This week

When you notice frustration that someone or something isn’t cooperating with you, try on the perspective that they’re operating according to their own rule-book alongside you. This is what it is to CO-operate in the world with this person or object. From this honest view of reality, how much more is within your power?