There is a very fine line between the realms of being accountable for your life and being willing to jump to the immediate conclusion that everything that is “wrong” in your life is your own doing…

Case in point…

I am a part time writer who is working on a collaborative project with other writers. In light of this, I regularly receive Word documents that I am to add to or improve upon. Yesterday, I was working on one of these documents and I noticed that some of my Word menu options weren’t working.

On the fly, while I’m writing, I will often right-click a word to find a synonym of it that is more descriptive and closer to the mood I want to capture. It is a handy feature, one that I really love and have come to rely on for enriching my writing. (Thesauruses are a writer’s best friend, by the way, if you didn’t already know that.) However, when I attempted to do that, there were no synonyms available for any words – even the words I knew had previously had synonyms available.


I wasn’t surprised by the problem; I’ve seen it before, but it was a long time ago and I couldn’t remember how to fix it. I also was concerned because last week I had to upgrade my operating system and had already lost 1.5 days in that process. Even though I had used Word since that debacle without any problems, I immediately jumped (because, apparently, I still tend to follow my long-practiced thought process of “I’m wrong”) to the conclusion that the problem I was having with the synonym submenu was my fault and related to the OS upgrade.

Thus began an eight-hour process of frustration and oodles of steps to complete it.

I cleaned. I cleared. I backed up. I cleaned and cleared some more. Backed up again. Then I followed a fourteen-step process of removing every single trace of the Office software – after a thirty minute conversation with four transfers and two rude customer service representatives (why do rude people go into customer service in the first place???) that ended with them telling me that I would have to purchase a service contract ranging in price from $99 – $149 before they could help me – and more backing up and more restarting of my computer and more cleaning and clearing.

By midnight last night, the problem still wasn’t fixed and I was peeved because I had wasted eight hours of writing time and had gotten nowhere. So I posted a question to the Microsoft community forum, hoping some genius there would know the answer. And then, I glared at my computer for quite some time, feeling betrayed and exhausted.

On a fluke – and I have no idea why I even thought of this… had to be divine intervention at this point – I opened a brand new document and retyped out the paragraph I had been working on when I discovered the problem and then I right-clicked the word “ran” to test the synonym submenu issue.

Viola!!! There it was! The entire submenu had returned. Which meant… this was a document-specific problem. Damn it! Why didn’t I think of THAT eight hours ago?! At least now I knew that it wasn’t a widespread problem. (And I tried to not berate myself for not at least opening a different document to test it before I unleashed the hellish process I had been in most of the day.)

Mistake 02

Then an answer came in from two different Microsoft Community Gurus.

Their answers asked more questions and I decided I couldn’t deal with it any further because I was on the verge of chucking my all-important laptop across the room. Not a healthy response. And entirely understandable because I had pushed myself way beyond my patience point hours earlier.

My only viable choice? Go to sleep. Things will be better in the morning.

Indeed, when I awoke, I felt refreshed and ready to face the issue head on. I began following the last of their instructions which included a few more different ways to clean and clear and reorganize. But nothing fixed the problem in that original document and I was quickly failing on my patience again – much sooner than I had done yesterday.

Then, one of my Gurus said, “It’s pretty clear that the problem is that all/some of the text is formatted as a Language for which Office 2011 does not have a Thesaurus [and/or any other Proofing Tools].”

I immediately rolled my eyes and laughed out loud. Then I snorted and sarcastically said to the empty room, “I’m looking at the text right now and the whole damn thing is in English.”

I began typing out a snide comment to that effect – before even following his steps to test it because my “I’m wrong” attitude had morphed into “the entire world is wrong,” which is what happens when my “I’m wrong” doesn’t get its way or when things don’t turn around fast enough for me. It’s a sneaky little bastard, this “I’m wrong” program of mine.

I pounded out a nasty remark, but reason took over just before I hit send and some unseen force hit me in the gut so that I took a deep breath and shifted my perception.

Just check, Angie. Before you tell this EXPERT that he has no idea what in the hell he is talking about, TEST IT FIRST!

So, I did.

And look what I discovered:

mistake 03

It was formatted in Telugu! (What the hell is Telugu???!) Even though the document was displayed in English, somehow the underlying formatting had somehow, by someone, gotten switched to Telugu!

I switched it to English (US) and then the synonym feature returned and all was well in Oz.

The resolution required no backing up, no clearing, no uninstalling, no reinstalling.

The resolution was free.

The resolution took all of three seconds.

And… had I requested assistance first from the community of gurus, I would have saved myself a lot of hassle, frustration, and stress.

Because I assumed had caused the problem because am always wrong and the cause of all problems in my life, (damn programming! Definitely doing some more clearing work on this right now!) I hadn’t even stopped to think that it could possibly be a problem caused by someone else’s mishap or that someone else could have an immediate solution.

While I am a proponent of full accountability in one’s own life, there is a definite difference between being accountable and being “always wrong.” The first approach creates liberation. The second approach ends in compounded frustration and stress. Both of these approaches to life are a choice; it’s just a matter of choosing how you want to experience your life.

I tell you what, though… now I will never forget how to fix the synonym submenu problem!



I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.

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