The “Culture Shock Philippines” book says that many foreigners who interact with Filipinos develop an antagonistic attitude.
I myself was very frustrated and antagonistic for quite a few years.
Then something shifted within me and I learned to “turn frustration into fascination” (as the famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn said).
There were things that made me constantly angry like, for example, the fact that for many Filipinas the extended family seems to be more important than their husbands or the tendency to get into debt or utang.
In order to transform those consistent feelings into more positive ones, I studied what really creates anger and I realized that anger only happens when we create our little partition of reality and expect the whole world to fit into our little turf.
By replacing the attitude of getting mad at my wife’s mentality, even when she acts out the most extreme aspects of her culture, with being open to the reality that there are other perspectives, I started turning frustration into fascination (at least when I manage to operate from this lofty ideal).
A few years ago I saw a scene from the “Joe vs the Volcano” movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and I remember watching one scene where the character played by Meg Ryan says:
“My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement”.
I realized that I could choose to live in frustration or in a constant state of amazement. Even if I left my wife there would be frustrating situations to deal with at work, with friends and relatives etc. There is no shortage of frustrating situations in this world where literally 99% of the population is asleep, or as Jesus said, is on the “large road” of mediocrity and conformity.
There is a nice quote from Thomas Campbell:
“That love and joy do not dominate our feelings most of the time is both normal and not a good sign. Love, joy, compassion, humility and balance are the dominant expressions of a high quality consciousness….your feelings reflect the real you with perfect accuracy. If you feel anger, negativity, inadequacy and anxiety this is a reflection of what you are and how you are from the inside and not of how others make you feel”.
And this is really what it’s all about: living in a “constant state of amazement” rather than in a state of anger and negativity boils down to what you are from the inside and not on what others, including your “significant other”, make you feel.