I know a family who is going through a very, very unfortunate situation. Their adult child has gotten in trouble with the law and is currently in jail. Everyone saw this coming because she had been headed down this path for some time. The parents tried to save her - everyone did. They paid for her bankruptcy, her new apartment (so she could start her life over), food, gas...you name it. And now the adult child is expecting her parents to not only bail her out of jail, but also to pay for a good lawyer so she doesn't have to spend 3-15 years in prison. And they probably will. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here on the outside thinking, "This is how she got there. No one has ever told her 'no' - she has never had any consequences to her actions. She has a sense of entitlement and didn't appreciate anything they did for her." I know that may sound harsh, but I know the family well enough to be pretty confident that I'm right. And now the poor family is facing selling their house and/or downsizing just to afford her impending legal fees.
So that got me thinking about: (1) Personal responsibility and (2) Being used.
I use this story (no pun intended...ha) as an extreme example of these two common problems. And I have a pet peeve for both of them. Well, a pet peeve for people who won't take personal responsibility, not for the ones who do ... just thought I should clarify! :)
Anyway, ever since I became a mother, I have constantly stressed to my children taking personal responsibility for everything in your life. I think I've done a pretty good job too because I think I may have created my own monsters. While it's mostly a positive thing, here is a frequent conversation that goes on in my house after we eat dinner and we're cleaning up:
Boy #1: "You need to put away the milk because you were the one who took it out of the refrigerator. It's your responsibility."
Boy #2: "Well, I'm not putting away the ketchup because you took it out. That's your job."
Boy #1: "Mom!!!! He's not cleaning up his half!! He needs to do his half!! It's his responsibility!!"
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. My boys are so keenly aware of personal responsibility that it's almost annoying. Well, let me rephrase that. So far, they are very keen on the personal responsibility of others. And they mostly take responsibility for their actions too, but we're still working on that. They're a work in progress! Anyway, like I said, I created my own monsters, but I hope to God that they take this sense of responsibility with them for the rest of their lives and use it in a positive way.
If other people don't take personal responsibility and expect you to take up their slack, then in my opinion, you are being used. Sure, it's nice for us to help people out and do things we don't have to do just because we are being helpful and loving. That's beautiful. But when it be comes a habit, pattern, and expectation from the other person, then I think that turns into using.
So if you suddenly discover that you might be getting used, what can you do to stop it? Well, it's actually pretty simple. Here are 5 things you can do:
#1 Say no.
I know you're thinking, "Duh. Thanks for that secret, unknown piece of information." Yeah, it's obvious. But is it easily done by a lot of people? NO!!! Put yourself first. You don't have to say yes to everything. Only say yes if it feels right and good.
#2 Tell them why you're saying no.
Usually, when you explain things, people will have a better chance of understanding and agreeing with you. Even if they don't agree with you, at least they know that you have your reasons and you're not just saying no to be mean.
#3 Be nice but firm in telling them no.
You don't have to go off on a rampage and tell them what a selfish loser they are. You can tell them that while you hope they get what they need, you are not the person who will provide it for them. Wish them luck! (with sincerity ... not in a nasty way).
#4 Stick with your 'no' - don't change your mind.
Don't ever, ever, ever go back on your 'no!' If you do, they won't ever believe you again when you say no. Say it and MEAN IT!! This is one of the most difficult parts for most people. But you can do it!!
#5 Tell them that you will have a better relationship because you say no. You will not resent them anymore.
They may not know that you have had resentment building up inside of you because of their actions. So tell them!! And let them know that this is a blessing in disguise. From now on, you will be able to let go of the resentment and have a much happier, honest relationship with them because you have drawn your boundaries.
Remember if you choose to still get used, then you have no one to blame but yourself. As the saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!"
But above all else, love yourself enough to say "NO, I WILL NOT BE USED ANYMORE!!" Actually, you will be doing them a spiritual favor by teaching them that they need to give and not just take.
Okay, everyone practice saying this along with me..."NO!!!!!! I refuse to be used!!"
Have a fabulous week! :)
Dr. Carol Morgan &
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