Are you a person that some people call on ONLY when they need something? You can’t recall any recent time when they called or texted or emailed, etc. just to check on you, or share something with you, or suggest you meet up to hang out. Now I’m not talking about your place of business. There, it’s your job to provide a service or a product, and others will need your output in order to do their jobs. I’m focusing on your personal life.
There will always be people who see other humans only as walking opportunities for themselves, but if these people label themselves as friends, then we have a problem. Let’s define the term friend. A friend is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard (see www.dictionary.com or the Dictionary app). A friend, therefore, is already attached to you. They don’t need a reason to communicate with you, they communicate simply because they care. They want to see you because they care and they enjoy your company. They talk to you because they trust you and welcome your insights. When they ask you to do something for them, it’s because they trust your abilities, and it won’t be the only time you hear from or see them. They value you. The scenario I described at the beginning of this post is not friendship. It’s called being used. It’s not always intentional, but unfortunately it sometimes is.
I know what you think I’m going to say – “Never allow yourself to be intentionally used.” I don’t think that covers it though. I believe, and that belief is only getting stronger, that we always have choices. In this situation
- You can choose to try and change the dynamics. You can be forthright with the person(s) about how you see the relationship and hope that it will spark a positive change. If your pattern has been to always say yes, you can also start saying no to requests that don’t interest you. Never try and induce change through threats. Not only is it negative (based in fear), but it only produces temporary change. If they really care, they will try to treat you better.
- You can choose to try and change the situation. You can make yourself less available to those who don’t value you as a person. As you become more aware of those who do not add positively to your life, you also become more aware of those who do. Perhaps there are people in your life you have been treating in that same way and you need to make amends. Spend quality time with those who value you and whom you value, and you’ll be less available to be used. With time, you will know if it is a relationship worth salvaging, or if you need to let it go.
- You can choose to try and change your attitude. You may never be able to change the way a person treats you, but you can change your outlook on the situation. Maybe you are being used, but are you enjoying the work itself? Choose to use the opportunity as a skill builder or a resume builder, maybe even as a means to make some extra money. Insist that your name be added to your work, so others become aware of your talents and skills.
Options are always available. Work hard to accept that fact. Start looking for options to the issues that have you feeling trapped. We were created with the ability to choose. Use that ability. Choose to choose.