Monday, January 7, 2013

Deciding Who's First

Whether you are married, have children, or single and on your own, when it comes to personal matters, it’s often hard to find the right balance of taking care of your family, yourself, and ‘being there’ for other friends and loved ones. 

Your mental debate may even lead to conflict if others who learn of your choices, don’t approve.  Below are some thoughts/guidelines for managing these issues while improving your relationships with others.

1.      Be True to Yourself – Prior to making a decision, and certainly before communicating that decision to others (who may not approve), think about why that decision makes sense for you.  For example, say you are choosing to get a massage instead of helping your cousin.  What are the reasons for that decision?  Is it because you two have a difficult relationship?  Because he’s never helped you when you needed it?  Because your back is injured and the masseuse can only fit you in when your cousin needs you?  Think about the reasons for making what could be termed a “selfish” choice.  Often times “selfish” choices occur as a result of a damaged relationship, and the desire to avoid or punish the other person.

2.      Be Honest – Keeping your rationale to yourself isn’t helping.  And, it will likely build added resentment from others if it is misunderstood.  In making a choice that others can’t readily appreciate, be prepared to communicate your reasoning with those impacted by it.  (For guidelines on having those conversations see my earlier article).

3.      Know Your Priorities – Sometimes, it isn’t a selfish choice that becomes a challenge.  It’s the reverse.  Perhaps a friend wants to see you (and you them) but it means your child will have to endure a play-date with a child she doesn’t like, or be left with a babysitter you don’t feel great about.  Here your concerns are letting someone down one way or the other.  While your child may forgive you more easily, or be simpler to bribe with a toy or dessert, think about which choice makes you feel better as a person.  Worry less about how your rationale sounds to others, and more about your own conscience and what helps you to sleep well at night.  Let that feeling guide you. 

4.      Don’t Make Excuses – When communicating your choices, don’t turn them into excuses.  Explain yourself directly and with factual points, including any notes about how you might be able to compromise, or make it up to the other person, if that is what you want to do. 

5.      Hold Your Head High – This is just a reminder that if you are true to yourself, honest with others, communicate clearly, and make added efforts when reasonable, you should be able to feel good about yourself, your decisions, and your relationships with others.

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