A friend of mine had her piano tuned recently. Once he arrived, the piano tuner settled in to his work, and my friend went on with hers. Since she has four children--including two preschoolers--there is always plenty on her "to do" list, and this day was no exception.
After they'd both been working for awhile, my friend found her way back into the living room and dropped into a chair near the piano. As she did so, she made a comment in the general direction of the piano tuner about how much she hates doing laundry.
Upon hearing her complaint, the piano tuner paused, looked up, and said, "Well, you might want to do something about that, because the more you hate something, the worse it gets."
In the days since my friend shared her exchange with the piano man, I've been thinking about his statement, testing it against my own life experience. So far, the piano man is batting a thousand. For example, I hate confrontation, and when a situation arises where I feel I must be confrontive, I worry and obsess and can hardly think of anything else. I live and re-live the dreaded confrontation scenario over and over in my mind before I ever live it in reality, thus building and feeding the anxiety and apprehension and whatever other negative feelings are conjured up. And I believe those pre-reality confrontations make the actual confrontations worse; likely heavily influencing how they unfold.
The piano man's observation seems to hold equally true for other things that are not on my "favorites" list : trimming the weeds, making financial phone calls, cleaning the oven, and balancing the checkbook. The more I think about how onerous they are, the more onerous those tasks seem to become, and the more I dread them. Whereas if I just grit my teeth--or better yet, try and find something positive in those tasks I dislike--I find they are not so distasteful (or, as a minimum, the distaste is not unnecessarily prolonged!).
My daughter Haleigh ordered some books from amazon.com over a week ago. She's been haunting the mailbox every afternoon since then, but so far, no luck. Tonight at dinner she announced, "I hate waiting for books to come in the mail!" However, because those books had not yet arrived, she finally decided to read a series we recommended to her long ago (and has already devoured four out of the five books in the series!). This caused me to reflect on how at times, the things we hate and/or avoid might actually end up leading us to opportunities or situations that bless or benefit us. The dreaded confrontation may yield a deeper understanding of the other person; the onerous phone call may yield an unexpected fiscal bonus.
I think the key to the piano man's pronouncement is this: that we can actually do something to change the way we feel about things. I understand this quite well in the abstract; it's in the actual nitty-gritty of day-to-day living that my cerebral comprehension frequently fails to transform itself into action! But I'll keep trying. And who knows? Maybe one day I'll actually look forward to wielding the weed-whacker.