If you’re like me, you were probably raised to observe old-fashioned values and good manners; be fair, be kind, be patient, be a team-player. I’ve spent a lifetime observing these principles and, most often, I’m proud to do so. But I’ve also learned a valuable lesson – the final lesson in the “old-fashioned values” handbook that, I think, most of us were never taught… Not everyone deserves your best.
We all know at least one die-hard, people-pleaser. You know, the woman who will run herself ragged, eventually getting sick, in order to help everyone else. If her boyfriend insults her, she cooks a gourmet dinner, unknowingly “apologizing” for disappointing him. She takes on the world, never questioning what others should be doing to contribute to the effort and, despite her good intentions, some people still disrespect her.
The reason for this is simple. Some of us are too nice. And some people are more than willing to take advantage of that. When we’re busy making so many sacrifices in the name of teamwork, we often fail to realize that we are the only ones playing for the team.
It’s noble to always want to put your best foot forward, but it’s foolish to assume that everyone approaches life the same way you do. It’s not only smart but necessary to take stock in the people around you. Who collaborates with you and who leans on you? Who gives you encouragement and who discourages you? Who is a positive influence and who is negative? Most importantly, who contributes to your sense of well-being and energy and who drains you of it? The bottom line is, helping people who take advantage doesn’t make you feel good; it makes you feel used. It also promotes more of their bad behavior.
I’m not saying we should live our lives being rude or stubborn. I am saying that we should choose which people are worthy of our best. It’s amazing how much more energy you’ll have for worthwhile causes when you realize that it’s ok to let go of people who willfully feed on your good nature. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t worry that you’re not being “nice.” By setting limits for people who take advantage of you, you’re being kind to yourself – and that’s something that you definitely deserve.