Big Heart Days
I often regret my big heart days — the days I decide to be nice and just do that one thing that I swore I’d never do the last time I did it. Some of the classics include when I:
- Believe the weasel opposing counsel who has lied to me about everything else.
- Pick up the phone to talk to the “potential client” with a “quick question.”
- Offer to write the letter for the parent of one of my kids’ friends to see if it will get the insurance company to settle.
- Saying yes to the committee who just needs a little help with a tiny project.
I really like helping people. I believe I have an obligation to give some of my time, knowledge and experience to helping others without payment or benefit to me. But if I allow myself to say yes to everyone who asks, I get eaten alive. I end up stressed out, overwrought, cranky, angry and resentful. Especially resentful.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” I say. I can’t believe they did that. That’s not what I signed up for! Why do people take such advantage?
Because I let them.
Because I forget that I’m doing it as an act of kindness and compassion.
Instead, I want them to like me, thank me, appreciate me, think I’m smart and talented. I can’t believe that they are only thinking of themselves, instead of, you know, thinking of ME.
Remember in contract law, that bit about gifts? Gifts require no consideration and are irrevocable. When you give a gift, you just give it. You can’t demand payment, or even a thank you note. And you can’t demand it back.
So I’ve learned the hard way about big heart days. If I am going to give the gift of my time, attention and skills, I have to be willing to make it a gift, and not about me. I have to decide how much time and attention I realistically have to give away. Then give it freely.
If I can’t do that, then I have to remember that wonderful, powerful, magical word: No.