Thursday, February 7, 2008

How dare you treat my friend that way!

Today's riff is inspired by Patti Digh's post of a couple of days ago, where she pointed out that those who fail to ask are not likely to receive what it is they would have asked for, if only...

Let me start again.

A very short pair of stories, based in truth for many of us, I'm guessing:

My friend Mandy had made a reservation for the two of us to have dinner at a lovely bistro, one we both had heard marvelous things about from our friends. We had lots of catching up to do, and I was looking forward to it. At the last minute, I realized I was going to have to choose between my dinner with Mandy, or some other task which came up unexpectedly.

Out of respect for Mandy, I explained to the folks who were seeking emergency help that I could help them, but not until the following morning.


I had decided that it was in the best interest of my mental health to leave the office an hour early one afternoon, intending to go see an inspiring movie (or so it had been reported to be by my friends). It was to be a me-and-Me kind of event: my chance to check in with myself, to learn about the times I had neglected to listen to that voice inside. And, let's be honest--a chance to devour some butter-enhanced movie popcorn.

Oh, but wait! There is an emergency which only I can solve!

I don't even hesitate, but dive in and save the day. Only after the fact do I notice I have left my own needs out in the cold, so to speak.


To whom do we owe allegiance? The list for most of us is long, often a mix of work-related and purely friend-based people--and yet where do you see your own name on that list? Who, among our friends, would tolerate the kind of treatment to which we routinely subject our own selves?? My own friends would be tolerant, but they would nowhere near take the neglect and disrespect I offer my own needs, at least not for any period of time.

And, good for my friends! I would expect them to raise loud protest if I treated them the way I sometimes treat myself.

The good news is, this is an easily spotted behavioral trend. Why? Because the more we slight ourselves, we become more and more resentful, more and more stuffed full of repressed hurt, and we won't have to wonder! The explosion will be quite defining. Might even make the local papers or the evening news.

While it is a more-difficult choice in the moment, we all have the same choice: we can pay more attention to our own needs now, and avoid the explosion later...or not.

If I were as good at taking my own advice as I am at offering it, I would follow, now, with glowing reports of my own successes in taking better care and paying more respect to me.

Not exactly. At least, not today. But it's not about me, is it? If you are this far along in this post, you know who this is all about.


Olivia said...

It is so easy, Rick, to become an expert at something knowledge-wise, but not to do it yourself. I have always had a problem with self-care, while as a life coach helped my clients to care for themselves. I like your post because instead of just telling us this it helps us to see it for ourselves. Another great post! I'm taking the rest of the night off! blessings, O

patti digh said...

Amen, brother!

Sylvain said...

It’s a pattern that I repeat over and over again as well, although I’m getting much better at it, and Kelly has helped me along as well. But every situation is different. I have a buddy who would help me at the drop of hat if I really need help with something I can’t do myself. I know this. So if he calls and needs me to do something for him, I am unable to say no, no matter what I have planned for myself. But even with others, why is it so hard to put ourselves first? Why do we feel guilty about it?
Thankfully I don’t have this problem with work. I can walk away from the office and let it go completely. My personal life though, with friends and family, not the same story at all.

Julie said...

I thought of Patti's post this morning, when I asked for a refund at the dentist's office. (I'll spare the story, but my referral visit was supposed to be free, and I didnt stand up for myself the first time and paid the small fee.)

I also stopped by to make sure you didn't fall into the sink hole this am..-:)

Rick Hamrick said...

Thanks to all for not only stopping by, but writing your thoughts when you did!

O--I hope you had a nice rest and awoke ready to get after it again today!

Patti--You would be my third younger sister...welcome to the menagerie.

Syl--I'm glad for you that you already have learned to walk away from work and carry no burden with you (except that new Blackberry!). I have the opposite problem, as I can more-easily set boundries with family than I can with work. I need more confidence in my own standing instead of acting like some poor creature afraid of losing his job.

Julie--I am blessed to work only four miles from home, and there is a nice neighborhood street that runs straight to my office. So, I don't get on the highway, and I miss all the excitement such as sinkholes or big-rig rollovers, or multi-car pileups.

ladybug said...

We all sing the same song sometimes don't we?

Thanks for your post and your thoughts that continue to inspire us! ;)

Anonymous said...

This is exactly, exactly, exactly what I'm thinking about today and what is jumping out at me from every magazine article and blog post.

Angela said...

What a great post, Rick. It's my opinion that there are times when it's perfectly appropriate to put aside our own needs for someone elses. But if it becomes a habitual pattern -that will be when the problems arise. I think that's what you were saying anyway.

Rick Hamrick said...

Kelly--sometimes, the universe gets pretty unsubtle in its messages to us, doesn't it?

Angela--you have it exactly right. We have to use our own discernment to decide who to help, when. The problem I was decrying is that, for many people, our own needs never enter the equation. Or, as you put it, placing our needs last becomes habitual.

Helping people is one of the best avenues to improving our own mental outlook, raising our self-esteem, and generally making us feel better. For those benefits, I would never propose that we pull back into some narcisistic, "me me me" view at all.

We all seek, whether we are conscious of it or not, balance in our lives which, in this case, is between being all giving all the time, or all self-centered all the time. This post pointed out one extreme we can avoid if we work at it.

Thanks for visiting and commenting, ladies!