Have you ever wished you could “rewind” a situation and undo some promise or statement you made? Maybe it was a telemarketer who maneuvered you into some ridiculous purchase, or a committee member who “volunteered” you to run the massive fund drive for the new playground. Maybe it was a good friend who coaxed you into sitting for her kids for the weekend while she left town with a new boyfriend. Whatever the case, most of us have had the experience of saying yes in a moment of wanting to please someone in need, and regretting it soon afterward. Women are often the worst offenders, wired for helping and connection, and conditioned to accommodate, often at their own expense. Then regret and annoyance set in, and we try to slip out of the commitment with some lame excuse. The net effect is that we’ve set the other person up for disappointment, and possibly an experience of ourselves as unreliable.
What a mess!
Quick fix: When you are put on the spot with a request for your time, your expertise, your money, or some service, before you say yay or nay, press the pause button and
- tell the requester that you’d love to help, but you’ll need to look at your schedule or your funds, and get back to them. (DON’T blame your spouse for the pause!)
- do an internal check to see if accommodating this request feels right to you, or if it puts you out in some highly problematic way, or if the request just feels inappropriate.
- make a decision and get back to the other person in a timely way.
- don’t make an empty gesture of saying you’ll be available later, if that’s not true.
This pause process will allow you needed time to make more careful, thoughtful decisions about how and when you share your time and yourself, so when you do give, it’s truly from the heart.
I’m a very regimented person. I get up at the same time each day, do the morning teeth and face cleanse, make a cup of coffee, balance my accounts, pay some bills, answer my voicemail, check my email, do some dishes, dead-head the garden flowers, make my lunch, do a workout, watch the news, eat the same breakfast, take a shower, get dressed, drive to my office, see some clients, return more voicemails, grab the same lunch, see more clients, answer more voicemails, schmooze with colleagues, drive home, make some calls, change clothes, go for a garden walk, have some dinner with my husband / son, watch more news, do some writing, do some reading, and go to bed. Then it all starts and ends the same way the next day until the weekend when it’s a different, slightly more exotic routine.
I’m also very governed by “shoulds” like, “I should keep appointments”, “I should work out six days a week”, “I should be more patient”, “I should always be learning”, “I should write in my blog”, “I should write another article”, “I should finish my book”, “I should finish my membership site”, “I should finalize my trademark”, I should prepare for my radio show”, “I should get my finances ready for the accountant and Quickbooks”, “I should go to more plays and concerts”, “I should answer my Facebook messages”, “I should volunteer”, “I should go back to Italy”, “I should lose twenty pounds”, “I should be a better friend, sister, mother, and wife”, “I should exfoliate more often”, “I should talk more slowly”, “I should stretch daily”, “I should clean the refrigerator”. (On and on, and on, and on…..) It’s a wonder I’m not depressed! It’s also a wonder that for the first time in six months, and after thirteen radio shows I’ve produced and hosted, that I decided to forego the June 29th “Communication Problems” episode, reschedule it to July 13th, and put up a sign saying, “Gone Fishing”!!!!!!!! So if any of this “good girl” routine sounds familiar to you, remember that sometimes, for some of us, goofing off is, (as Martha would say), “a very good thing!”
I should go to bed,
I had a hilarious psychotherapy session today with a middle aged “salt of the earth” couple who were bemoaning the pervasive preoccupation with cellphones among the younger generation. They talked about how teens and “twenty-somethings” in particular were guilty of communicating primarily via technology. They had hired some young workers for their business, and discovered that these “kids” no longer even talked on their cellphones –(too personal!)– they only texted, did it all day long on the job, even did it with the phones in their pockets! The three of us lamented the loss of personal contact among people, and the increasing depersonalization in our society. The husband then referred to our generation as the “last of the ‘face-to-face’s”. We all cracked up, I told him this was a funny-sad, priceless depiction, begging to be shared, and we all moved onto other topics. But it made me think about the truth in the statement. Has personal contact become a quaint vestige of the past, (particularly the ex hippies)? Has an entire generation discarded something precious– face to face conversation, complete with eye and ear contact? And what’s the consequence? Daniel Goleman, in his book “Social Intelligence”, thinks we’re moving toward “social autism”, and that studies indicate it’s effecting our brain structure, and even immune function, which is impacted by the quality of our relationships. Scary! How to fight the tide? Use technology as a tool, not a barrier! Be mindful of when you’re connecting with your phone, and not the live person in front of you! Limit “screen time” for yourself and your children! Have human face-to-face conversations! Anyway, before I get more carried away, I have to sign off. (My husband went to bed an hour ago, and here I’ve been, all cozy “talking” to all of you.) Hmmm………….
Goodnight and good luck,
PS. For more of my thoughts, insights, and tools for relationship issues, go to my website: www.HowToBeABetterCouple.com and for live discussions about relationship dilemmas, go to my BlogTalk Radio show, “The Couplespeak Relationship Forum”. The next scheduled show is on Wednesday, Jan. 12th at 10:00PM: “Sisters– The Good, The Bad, And The In-Between”. It should be fun, and informative!
Here’s a simple entry about the power of simplicity. Our family is in a very labor intensive phase of careers, all of us simultaneously. Too much to do, never enough time, but lots of drive and purpose.
We’re in the midst of a social experiment — none of the usual elaborate decorations, painstaking gift choices, piles of money spent, and frenetic preparation. Instead, very simple sprucing up, a special, but no fuss Christmas day dinner, donations to a few, favorite charities, and together, the next day, a trip to Boston to the Museum of Fine Arts, historic sight-seeing, a delicious brunch, and later, dinner in some exotic restaurant in Back Bay. No pressure, no racing around, no fuss, no worry! Simplicity, meaningful giving, and family time……..
PS. Check out my new Facebook page: Susan R. Lager On Facebook
PSS. Enter your answers in my holiday poll at the bottom of this blog–I’m interested in your thoughts.
I hope you had a restful and fun July 4th weekend, and if you spent time with your family, you enjoyed them! This isn’t usually about having perfect relationships, it’s more often about setting boundaries which insure that your personal space or couple’s space is honored. This can be as simple as making it clear what arrival and departure times work best, or what to bring to an occasion. It could be as sensitive as giving cues about what subjects are off limits, or what would feel indiscreet. If you are refraining from drinking, setting good boundaries would involve first being clear with yourself about why, and what your action plan is, then if offered drinks, graciously making a “no, thank you” clear to your family. Setting boundaries in relationships protects you and your loved ones from undue hurt, humiliation and anger. And if family members don’t honor your boundaries, you might consider whether your requirements are too rigid or harsh, or if you may need to consider another “venue” for contact which may more readily provide more protective structure. And don’t fret– it takes practice to learn how to do it with finesse, so chances are, if this July 4th was a wipeout, next one will more likely be better.
P.S. Check out my published articles about relationship issues at: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Susan_Lager
Also, look for my soon-to-be-launched website full of couple’s resources at: http://www.howtobeabettercouple.com