I am annoyed. A friend of mine I’ll call “Jill” opened a (redacted to protect identity) store in January and I have placed several orders with her. I have sent many friends and neighbors her way and spent a good deal of money at her place.
You would think she would have sent me a gift or two, or at least some thank-you notes, but nope! She mentions the business when I see her (which isn’t often anymore) but other than that it’s nothing.
Can you give me a “Robin” script because I want to confront her but I am worried I’ll say something I’ll regret.
You poor thing.
I can understand why you are so angry. Here you are, sending repeat business to Jill, and she isn’t bending over backward to kiss your ass in return each time such business comes her way.
I receive many letters on many important subjects but when yours came in yesterday I put you to the front of the line due to the serious nature of your problem.
Your problem is indeed serious, but you don’t have the problem you think you have, which is in and of itself another problem.
Here’s what you told me over email in the last 24 hours:
- She doesn’t work. Shocking, right?
- She and Jill are less “friends” and more “acquaintances.” Jill is someone Nancy would like to be close to because of Jill’s social status in their small city. Apparently Jill is quite the popular little mover and shaker and everyone wants to be her friend. Oh, Jill. I know the feeling!
- Nancy admits to often feeling under-appreciated and ignored by people for whom she regularly goes out of her way because she wants them to like her. Oh, Nancy. I know the feeling!
Robin’s Advice for Nancy
Nancy, your problem isn’t Jill’s lack of appreciation and acknowledgement of the business you send her way. Your problem is you.
More specifically, your problem is your tendency to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. It’s no wonder you end up so frustrated all the time.
For years I suffered from this same affliction, so before you accuse me of being unkind please consider how lucky you are to be communicating with someone who can address your issue from a personal perspective. Let me help you while exercising my special niche of exposing my painful past!
I used to spend an enormous amount of time, money, effort, and emotional energy doing things for people who just weren’t that into me. The reasons are numerous and complex but after years of frustration I was able to realign my life and focus it in a much more positive and satisfying direction. How? I created lists, of course!
Lists are awesome.
Robin’s Favor Checklist
In the future, each and every time you are about to expend effort on someone else’s behalf, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I doing this? What is my true motivation, not the motivation I am selling myself?
- What do I expect to get out of this?
- Would I do this if I knew I would never receive anything in return?
- Could my time and efforts be better spent elsewhere? In particular, are there others in my life who are much more deserving of my largess?
I’m not saying people don’t owe each other an expression of gratitude when favors are extended. Basic manners demands as much. However, your ongoing expectations of Jill are unreasonable and honestly, kind of sad.
Jill is too busy running her own business and being far more popular and fabulous than you to drop everything each time you send someone her way. She may owe you a thank-you or two, but she does not owe you a step up the friendship ladder or a higher position in your twisted little social scene.
If you can’t do kind things simply for the act of kindness and not for expected returns, don’t do them at all. You will only serve to frustrate yourself and become even more disgruntled with the people in your life.
Furthermore, I suggest you spend some of your altruistic inclinations helping those who are less fortunate than you. I’ve emailed you some links for volunteer opportunities in your city.
Spend some time helping those who are truly in need having no expectations in exchange. You will quickly find the emotional annuity you receive is far greater than anything you expected from Jill or the myriad of other people you told me have “taken advantage of your generosity” without proper recompense.
Next, ask yourself the hard questions about why you are the way you are and what you want your life to be.
List of Hard Questions. Ouch!
- What hole am I trying to fill?
- How did it get there and how can I fill it in a meaningful way?
- What “advancement” in life would satisfy me?
- What are my goals in life beyond my “social standing?” Gag.
- Who aren’t I now that I wish to be, and how can I become that person in a more honest and holistic manner?
And that leads me to my Scientology party rundown, because even though I gave you a nice and neat little lecture based upon my supposed personal growth and two handy-dandy checklists, I still fall into this pattern from time to time.
The Scientology Party
Sorry to be a story-tease but I’m saving the connection of Nancy’s problem to my Scientology party story. You can read about it tomorrow.
Come back then to read about author Tony Ortega, a party I threw in his honor when he was in Portland promoting his book The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, and how that party made me realize that while I may be a much more enlightened and happy person than I used to be, I am still very much a work in progress.
“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”
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PS: To the very tiny number of Portland divorce attorneys to whom I send business, this blog does not apply to you. Please send me acknowledgements in the form of vodka, wine, and massage gift certificates.