It has been said that we always do what is in our own best interests. Maybe for some, this is done consciously, whilst for others it happens at a subconscious level. Where do you fit in with this – or do you feel that you don’t?
BACK STORY TO THE CONCEPT
It all goes back to the time that we were cave dwellers. Living on our wits, with the good old flight – fight- freeze reactions being automatically triggered at times of danger. The very reactions that we still possess, though they seem to count against us more than support us these days. It was a case of survival. Though whether this was a survival of the fittest, the quickest of wit, the best hunter, the most adaptable, I wouldn’t like to speculate. I guess it could be a combination of all of these attributes. Tribes, clans, call them what you will came into consideration too. To be isolated made that survival more difficult, so it was important to keep the rest of the group happy, on your side. I guess that isolation in those days meant facing up to the likes of sabre tooth tigers alone, therefore, looking out for the clan as well as the self would be a definite positive.So it was far from a selfish concept. These days, this remains the case. Keeping your clan – whether this is your family, your work colleagues, your friends, your support network, whatever label you care to give it – keeping them content, comfortable, happy even is likely to also be in your best interests. OK, some may consider this to be selfish at heart, but so long as it is a win-win situation, I don’t see it as a problem.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN OTHERS ARE TOP OF THE PILE…
A pile on which we don’t even have a toe hold. Then that win-win situation isn’t likely to exist. I was recently watching a television drama featuring businessmen in the 1950’s along with their wives and families. I have to say that I was surprised at the large percentage of smokers, though obviously this could have been exaggerated for dramatic impact. What did stand out, and I can well remember this actually being so, was the difference in our current and the 50’s male-female relationships. So many of the wives were corporate wives, in so far as they were the little woman who pandered to their husbands need, their family’s need. Where were such women on the pile? I guess they generally felt ok, maybe happy with their lot having ‘bagged themselves’ a man who was going to hopefully rise up that corporate ladder, taking them along with them unless a younger replacement came along.
In the early years of my marriage, I bucked this system as an RAF Officers’ wife. So many wives appeared to have their husband’s rank invisibly sewn onto their outfits. This was emphasised by the fact that I was always, at the medical centre especially 252 – wife of Flt Lt ….. This always bugged me, I didn’t feel that I was recognised as having my own identity. I felt that this wasn’t in my own best interests as a woman, a person with their own mind which I was capable of using.
Having said that, I am aware that I always, well the majority of times, put my family ahead of me. I guess I had a choice in this. It even happened in little ways such as the best steak on treat days never ended up with me! Maybe, looking back over the years, this has given others permission to treat me as someone not worthy of consideration – when it came to larger things as well as those smaller ones. If I don’t consider myself worthy of being top of the pile, why should they? A possible reason, though for me, far from a valid one and certainly miles away from being a caring one.
I presume that few women these days would accept a situation, a relationship in which they weren’t at least equal partners. Maybe that pendulum has tipped the other way – I certainly personally know of situations in which the wife boasts – that she earns SO much more than her husband, so he should be grateful for their house, the things around him. This was not said in a tongue in cheek way, rather as a throw away statement of fact. This doesn’t sound like equality, to me. Whose best interest were served by such comments?
IS IT DOWN TO BALANCE?
Balance as far as the best interests of self and any group involvements are concerned.
Maybe you are work oriented and you would consider this your prime focus, whether this be by apportioned time or how your feelings of importance are affected.
If so, take a moment to consider – what makes you content …. your gut reaction, your first response without hesitation. Is it work, or what……
If you are work focused, does this allow you sufficient time, sufficient opportunity for nurturing those feelings of contentment if they aren’t work based? How important it is, in order to avoid burnout, or a breakdown of relationships to have a balance between work, personal, social, emotional aspects of our lives. Life can so easily swing out of kilter if we don’t get a half-way decent balance for ourselves as well as those important to us. It’s in everyone’s best interests to seek this balance.
I used to have it all wrong. I know that with the benefit of hindsight. I left for work at 7.30, with a drive time anything from forty minutes upwards. I was in schools until 4, later if after school meetings. Then home, with the occasional supermarket dash, to report write until at least 10. Throw in 2 evenings a week of voluntary counselling and an occasional week-end away at my son’s. This involved getting stuck in with washing, tidying, gardening at a bachelor pad lacking TLC, or using my car for buying of large things, tip runs etc. Then up at 4am on Monday for a three and a half hour drive – on a good day with a following wind – to start all over again. The following week saw much midnight oil burning as I hadn’t spent the week-end report writing and sorting my own home. More fool me. I got no respect for it, rather was taken for granted because I was always one for getting stuck in. On the other hand, I was being true to the me that I was then.
Where was the balance? How were my best interests being served? The answer – they weren’t. I believed that I was helping all of the children and schools with whom I worked. Ditto my son. But, Dee, well she got lost in the mix. I began to get more and more tired and I struggled. I took early retirement. Yes, my pension was restricted, but at least I am here to be collecting it! I was getting a satisfaction from a job well done, however, I got no respect from my line manager, and in all honesty, I showed myself little respect. Now, I get contentment from the counselling and hypnotherapy that I do, with enough breathing space to add to that contentment through gardening, crafting, whatever floats my boat with a bit of coffee and cake with friends thrown in for good measure. Nothing takes over, I have a balance that was missing for many years. And you know what? I am on the pile – and for much of the time, I am able to place myself at the top of said pile without feeling more than a modicum of guilt as I put my own best interests to the forefront. I realise that far from being selfish, it is actually essential. Took me over 60 years to come to this point, but I got there eventually.
Don’t let it take you this long to find what your own best interests are and get these into sync with your life and way of living and the lives of those important-to-you people around you.
If it’s something with which you struggle do get in touch – I am offering counselling by phone or Skype when face to face is not possible. If the weather is fine, then there is always the option of the gazebo in the garden where we can remain that social distance apart.