I was scrolling Facebook this morning with my trusty cup of coffee, taking in the day's political arguments, viral cat videos and previous night's festivities around the globe when I came across this quote "If a person spends their time manipulating situations, even if their intentions are pure, it is still rooted in inherent negativity because it is an act of fear and faithlessness. It is an inability to trust the natural process. The natural process is a result of a higher power and God expects faith." Dr. Wayne Dyer
This particular quote stopped me because this is a concept that I have been grappling with lately. I'm not particularly aligned with any faith but I do believe there is a higher power and I do believe that we have to trust in the process of the universe. Recently though, there was a turn of events that left me wondering if I am not one of those fearful and faithless people that this quote is referring to.
See, I like to think of myself as one of the nice guys. I'm "that" friend. I'm the one you can always call. I'm the one that will listen; I'm the one who will help you out. I'm the one that will rearrange my schedule to be there to support you. I pick up the tab from time to time. Ok, a lot of times. I remember the little things. And sometimes, I am just flat out generous in a completely superficial way.
Most of the time that's fine, but there are moments, when you put yourself out on a limb or you go out of your way for someone, especially if you do it often, where you've put them in the awkward position of feeling obligated to you. And nobody wants to feel obligated.
Now if you are like me, you'll tell them that there are no obligations or strings attached to your generosity. But do you really mean that? I mean really mean that?
Because let's face it, if you are "that" friend there will come a time when a person that you've been there for will let you down. And when they do, you can't help but be all "Harumph!!! After all I've done for them..." about it. - Uh oh. Turns out that whole no obligation thing wasn't as free of strings as you thought. If you are really honest with yourself, maybe, just maybe there was a wee bit of manipulation on your part.
I recently went through something where I had to take an honest look at my motivations. I've been really nice to someone going through a hard time. Probably overly nice. They let me down and it was a whole thing. I got mad and threw a fit. And in a complete moment of honesty, they just laid it out for me. They felt indebted to me and because of that, they didn't feel like they could really be honest with me. My first instinct was to be even madder at them. "How dare they turn this around on me and make me feel like the asshole in this situation just because I was nice". But then I thought about it for a minute. Was I really just being nice to them or was this about me?
I've been in a reinvention phase for a couple of years now and I'm finally settling into the really good stuff, but I still get my world rocked from time to time. The last few months have been like that. A whole mess of stuff has come down the pike. And I'm starting to wonder if my graciousness was really about about helping them out or was it me not wanting to look at and work on my own life. ~ Once again, Uh-oh.
Hello mirror, good to see you again, let's take a look see here and think about who you are really mad at. Are you mad at them because they let you down, or are you mad at yourself for not taking care of your own business? If you were doing what you were supposed to be doing, you probably wouldn't have been sitting there at the moment in question in the first place.
We don't give people enough credit for how perceptive they can be. And if you get your feelings hurt because you think someone "owes" you, then you have failed miserably at being the nice guy. Pick up your last place ribbon on the way out the door. ~ I'm going to hang mine by my nightstand so I can look at it everyday and remember why nice guys finish last.
See, we like to think that the nice guy finishes last because people are shallow. But the reality is that the bad guy probably just doesn't have time to be dealing with other people's shit because he is too busy taking care of his own. And let's be honest. What is more attractive? Someone who dotes on your every whim or someone who's out there doing their own thing?
So now what? How do I continue to be the nice guy but trust the universe and its process? How do I give and really mean it when I say there are no strings attached?
Well, for starters I can stop focusing so much of my attention on everyone else. I can start to look at my own life and turn some of that care and attention on to myself. I can start doing nice things for me. I can stop spreading myself so thin by being "that" friend to everyone else and be "that" friend to myself once in a while. I can stop worrying about what to do for everyone else and go make my own self happy.
I want to be that person so that the next time I'm out at dinner with someone, I don't feel like I need to pick up the tab. Next time, just sitting there with me and my big, warm, happy smile will feel like winning the lottery. It will save me a ton of dough and it is a way better feeling anyway. For everyone involved.
I will always be generous and I will always try to help out other people, especially people who are trying to be better people. But from now on before I just jump out there and do it, I'm going to look inside and really weigh my motivation. Am I trusting the process? Is this for them, or is this about me?
My heart has always been in the right place, my intentions have always been pure but if I'm feeling bad about myself, it won't matter how many nice things I do. They will see right through it. Like I said, people are perceptive. So the best thing I can do for anyone else is to be the best version of my own self. Gifts and thoughtful gestures are great, but nothing beats just hanging out with a kick ass human.
And that, my friends is my two cents this week and exactly how this nice guy intends to trade in her last place ribbon for a first place trophy.
Epiblog: A place for paying it forward and supporting artists, entrepreneurs and people who inspire me. I hope you find some inspiration here too.
This weeks epiblog is dedicated to Jon Byrd. Jon Byrd is a kick ass human and also a nice guy, so nice that although he himself is an amazing songwriter (One of my favorites) he made a whole record of nothing but his friends songs. And it is brilliant! It is called Route 41 and comes out October 21st! Go get it. jonbyrd.com