Don’t settle

Hi, it’s me again. I just realized that most of my recent posts, including today’s, have been about holidays. Holidays teach us lessons in many ways, but this blog is about learning every day, so I’m back…

This time I’m writing about being strong in your convictions. So often, we get our shorts in a knot over something someone said or did that rubbed us the wrong way. We have an idea in our head the way things should be, but so often, we set wisdom aside for what is convenient. We let people talk to us badly. We let time slip by without calling our friends and family. We settle for the job we have because it seems too much trouble to find something better. There are so many things we settle for.

How many times have you heard of people who have been mistreated at their jobs (or in their personal lives)? They work for years, and are cast aside in favor of the manager-du-jour (or the “other man/woman”) who comes in, messes everything up, gets paid a fortune, and makes everyone’s life miserable because he or she doesn’t know or care how things should work. It happens over and over again. Sometimes it gets out of hand and they seek legal advice. “Yes. We’ll take them to court, and then they’ll treat us right!” On the other hand, how many people don’t bother, because they are afraid of rocking the boat, or they think they’ll get fired (or abused more) for acting up?

Even when they get the conviction to do something about it, such as taking legal action, the panic kicks in. “They know we’re up to something.” “He’s watching everything I do.” “What are they going to do to us if they find out?” “What if they retaliate?” The fear of the unknown fuels the fire. Sometimes people crack under the pressure. They cancel the legal action, or they go and confess their sins to the ones who have been mistreating them all along, making it easier for the “enemy” to prevail.

Sometimes it’s the money. Suddenly, the lawyers are talking about huge sums of money, and people don’t know how to handle it. They start counting their chickens, not thinking about the few feathers they could end up with when it’s all over. (By the way, when a lawyer is discussing figures with lots of zeroes, you always get to keep the zero part!)

Sometimes it’s the anger. I’ve seen folks lose their jobs (or their relationships) because they were so angry at the way they are treated, that they refused to do anything, instead of going through the proper channels, because it was easier.

So what’s my point? (I do have one, just keep in mind that these examples won’t apply to every situation)

  • First, step back and take a good look at the situation. Ask yourself some serious questions, and give serious answers. Did someone really do something wrong, or did you just take it that way? Are you blowing the situation out of proportion because of your emotions, or is this really a serious situation that needs to be dealt with? Look at the situation through a stranger’s eyes, and think about what you would tell them to do. Be objective and realistic, and not just reacting out of emotions. Emotions distort our sense of reality. If your anger over a situation causes you to ignore your own role in what has happened, reality is going to come crashing around you quickly.
  • Understand your role in what happened. Did you get turned down for a promotion because of nepotism, or because you weren’t living up to your responsibilities in your current role?
  • Pick your poison. Let the little things roll off your back. Save your energy for the big issues. We can’t fight every battle, but if we are being harmed, or subjected to real mistreatment, we shouldn’t take it lying down. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell what’s big and what isn’t!
  • Stand by your convictions. If you have been mistreated, by a spouse, by an employer, by a friend, whatever, you have the right to stand up for yourself and ask for justice.
  • Get professional help. You can’t always fix things on your own. Find a reliable, respected professional to help you, whether it’s a lawyer, a doctor, the police, a psychiatrist, a plumber – whatever the situation dictates! Rely on the professional to do their job – don’t try to do their job for them.
  • Be honest – with yourself and others. Exaggeration and lies don’t help your cause, or anyone else’s.
  • Don’t back down. Airing dirty laundry is never a comfortable thing, but sometimes that’s the only way to get things cleaned up. If you are in the right, the laws of the universe will be on your side. You might not get everything you want, but if you don’t try, you’ll just get more of what you’ve been getting all along.
  • Know what you want. Are you looking for an apology? Are you looking for what you thought you should have had all along? Are you looking for financial compensation? Are you looking for criminal punishment? A divorce? Is what you are looking for fair and reasonable, or is it simply trying to satisfy your ego? Focus on the circumstances, and what you think is a fair result, and don’t get carried away with the possibilities. In most cases, you can’t have it all, and it isn’t reasonable to expect it. Sometimes a public apology offers much more healing than a bank account full of money for something that gets swept under the rug.
  • Don’t have unreasonable expectations. If you don’t have expectations, you can’t be disappointed. Even if you walk away with nothing, you still have your dignity and you know you gave your best effort. Karma will deal with the rest.
  • Be responsible. You have a responsibility to yourself, and to the situation. Don’t let your actions hurt others or yourself, lest you become the “bad guy.” You wouldn’t want someone else to do that to you. Again, Karma will deal with the rest.
  • Be willing to compromise, within reason. Don’t be stubborn. It isn’t about you. It’s about resolving a wrong action. Being difficult only causes resistance.
  • Act with love, not anger or fear. If you act with love, you can’t cause any more pain than has already been experienced, and it can transmute a situation in your favor. “You catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar!”
  • Forgive. I didn’t say “Be willing to forgive,” or “Try to forgive.” Being willing and doing are entirely different things. Even if someone (including you) can’t see the error of their ways, know that they are learning their lessons in their own way, just like you are. Holding a situation in your heart will only weigh you down. We all grow and progress in our own time, but we always do. Holding the past against someone holds you back with it.
  • Above all, keep an even mind. If you let yourself get wound around the axle over your condition, all you’re going to get is run over, and that isn’t helping anyone.
  • Don’t settle. By this, I don’t mean not to accept a legal settlement. I mean, if you have been mistreated, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and demand what is best for all concerned. If you are in a harmful situation, the status quo is rarely the best choice. Even if the odds seem against you, at least there are chances. Your chances are zero if you stand by and do nothing, no matter what the situation is.