Monday, July 18, 2011
I could never be a medical transcriptionist. It’s not that I couldn’t keep up with the typing or figure out the doctors’ handwriting. My problem would be the symptoms and medical conditions. I’d have all of them.
To say that I am easily influenced is like saying the Titanic sprung a leak. Knowing this about myself, I wasn’t all that surprised to end up with yet another condition after watching an old episode of “Oprah.” She and her experts called it a disease, the Disease to Please.
I passed their little “Do You Have the Disease to Please?” self-diagnosis quiz with flying colors, including their first question: “Do you ever say yes when what you really want to say is no?” Well, of course I do—doesn’t everyone?
I thought about it for a few days. I have to admit this need to please played a huge role in my own experiences with getting deeply into debt. I rarely spent for myself. I was forever buying for others, picking up the tab, giving the best gift. I wanted recognition, approval and acceptance. That can create a lot of pressure.
I was always conflicted. Aren’t we called to generosity out of hearts of gratitude and service? Isn’t it selfish to say no? So I began asking myself: What’s my motivation? Is my action pure, or is it a sneaky way to demand something in return?
For example, are you giving that expensive birthday gift to a 3-year-old so she will call you her favorite grandma or because you love her and it will improve her life? Are you serving on that board so others will notice you and think you are a good person or because you have an authentic emotional investment in the cause?
Gift-giving occasions present a terrible dilemma for people who believe they can buy love, approval and acceptance. There’s this unspoken belief that if something small should return a small amount of love, then a great big expensive item should bring even more love and approval.
Analyze your motivation. Before you say yes to anything, do a quick self-analysis. Why am I doing this or buying that? What am I expecting in return? If you can answer honestly "nothing in return," then your motivation is pure. If there’s another answer, it’s probably some form of manipulation.
Realize you are in control. Becoming assertive is the way to arrest this disease. It takes courage to say no, to be honest and to set limits. Decide right now that you cannot buy love and approval, so don’t even try. Next, decide how much you will spend, and then stick to it.
Buy time. Experts say that time is the best antidote for the Disease to Please, whether that’s five minutes or five months. Nothing is so urgent you cannot take time to think about it.
Pleasing others can be noble and gratifying as long as the decision to do so is for the joy it brings, not for what you expect to get in return.
©Copyright 2011 Mary Hunt
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