10 September 2010

Selfish or selfless - an update

This is the continuation of a blog entry that I made a year or so ago. I have gone back to this subject after reading an article from an online newsletter on a concept called the 'Disease to Please'. The term goes back to a book by the late Harriet Braiker entitled 'The Disease to Please - Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome'. The book describes a 'people pleaser' as someone who prefers to ignore his or her own needs and to centre on satisfying the needs of others. That's exactly what I mean by selfless. However, the book then asks the question "Do you ever say yes when what you really want to say is no?"

It's all a question of motivation. Are you a good person - a hero - a 'nice guy'? Surely it's not a bad thing to want to be helpful... who doesn't want to be liked? And aren't we as Christians called to act with generosity, with lives of gratitude and service? Besides which, isn't it a bit selfish of us to say no to someone who needs our help?

Apparently, some doctors are now saying this 'Disease to Please' could actually harm us or even kill us. You end up in a situation where the answer is always yes, even in cases when it may inconvenience you. The emotional build-up of not being able to say no increases our stress. The adrenaline released as a result makes your heart beat faster than normal, your blood pressure rise and blood vessels narrow. That can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Extreme maybe, but there you are...

Working out where you are with this 'condition' involves a bit of self-analysis. I'm told you start by looking at your real motivation. Try asking yourself "Why am I doing this? What am I expecting in return?" If you can answer 'nothing' then your motivation is pure. If there's another answer then it's worth giving this further thought. Have you got a hidden agenda?

One problem with a selfless lifestyle is that your own needs could go unaddressed. Don't forget to programme in some 'me time' in your schedule... Remember that your own family deserve to have a share of you as much as anyone. Perhaps you need to block out some time for them, too.

Then comes the matter of assertiveness. Try saying no once in a while - and then sticking to it. If you have a problem in saying no, then at least don't say 'yes' straight away. Buying time is at least a start. Nothing is so urgent you cannot take time to think about it.

Comments are most welcome!

"But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself"
(chorus to 'Garden Party' by Ricky Nelson)

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