I sure hope everyone who reads my blog knows that, just because I post a blog about something doesn't mean I am any sort of expert on the subject. On the contrary, some of the topics about which I write are the very ones I need to work on improving the most. The Indigo Girls used to sing a song with the lyrics "Everything that I believe is wrong with you is wrong with me." The way I see that lyric is that when I see someone that "needs" to hear something I have to say, it is likely because I need to work on that very trait or character defect myself.
Case in point: this blog on how I believe we need to focus on our own actions versus worrying so much about how the other person is going to react. One of my favorite youtube videos is this precious nugget my friends and I affectionately call "Worry 'bout yourself" . My sense is that you will either love it or hate it. You'll either believe this girl is hilarious or she needs a time-out for being sassy. I look at it as advice for myself: I need to worry about myself, which means that I need to worry less about what everyone else thinks of me and what I should/shouldn't do and simply act in the way that God intends me to act.
For instance, a dear colleague and friend of mine, Dar, and I were talking about the huge homeless issue in our town. She said she had made up bags to pass out when she sees someone in need. I loved the idea and made up bags, too: bags filled with nuts, granola bars, water bottles, etc. I was able to give two away yesterday and was thanked for the gift by both folks. A friend was making fun of me, saying, "They probably aren't homeless anyway" and "They will probably throw it away when they see it isn't money they can use to buy alcohol." I get it. If it isn't your thing, you definitely shouldn't do it. However, the way I see it is: It is none of my business what happens to that bag of goodies the minute it leaves my hand. I honestly believe I have control of what actions I take (i.e. making bags, giving them away, etc.) but absolutely no control (nor business trying to control) what reactions come from that (i.e. throw away my bags, shout at me for not giving money, etc.).
In the same way, I have to say the same thing about doing the right thing when I am working with other people. I once worked with a teacher who was a bit negative about life and people (Do you hear an understatement radar going off? It should be). Let's call her Karen. Every so often, I would put little notes in staff mailboxes with candy attached to them. One of my colleagues said, "I used to put one in Karen's box, but she never says 'thank you', so I quit doing it." Oh Lordy, I completely understand that feeling. If we do something for a co-worker or friend, we really appreciate a "thank you". The problem is when it becomes an expectation. You know the kind. "I did this for her, so she should have done this for me." or "I always share my lesson plans with him but he never does it for me." Expectations are, as some very dear friends often remind me, resentments that just haven't happened yet. No matter if you are in education or in any field of work, you likely have experienced this phenomenon. We do something for someone and we expect something in return. You might say, "No, no, no, Shelly. I don't need them to send me flowers if I send them flowers." Okay, fair enough. But if you send flowers, do you expect a "thank you"? Expectations can eat our lunch!
I read this article called "9 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Won't Do" and I found it to be incredibly helpful. The biggest thing I saw that emotionally intelligent people won't do is let others limit, or steal, their joy. If I want to put notes in the boxes of my staff at school, then I should, by all means, do it. If it makes me happy, great. The problem is when I think others should react in the same way that I would or the way that I think they should. That gets me in trouble every.single.time.
Just for today, perhaps we can figure out what our reasons are for wanting to do certain things and be certain we aren't doing them expecting a particular reaction from other people.
Now, excuse me. I have more bags to make for people in need.