“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make it sound?” is a philosophical statement that challenges what we perceive as reality.
If a tree exists outside of your perception then there is no way for you to know that the tree exists, regardless if reality can prove otherwise later on. For you, at least, at that point in time, the existence of the tree is questionable, and for the skeptics, even seeing the tree might not be evident enough for them to believe.
People believe what they want to believe.
The sooner you come to terms with that, the easier it is to let go of grievances. Grievances, over time, turn to bitterness, and if that sentiment persists, depression sets in; resignation; hopelessness.
If you’re going through any of these stages right now, my advice is: cut your losses. Bail out. The person who you are bitter about isn’t going to show you an ounce of sympathy for your downward spiral. If anything at all, he or she might think you more of a loser.
A surprise visit by an old friend sharing about his predicament caused me to think back upon the many encounters I have heard of people being taken for granted. My own, I have plenty to share.
If people around you can’t see the value of the things you do for them, are your efforts real? It makes you start to question yourself. You start thinking maybe you haven’t done enough. In the case of my friend, he was made to feel like he was being a selfish asshole for even bringing up the things that upset him because his lack of happiness is an insult to the sadness she’s feeling. Go figure that one out.
I don’t know her and I won’t assume that her problems are any less important than his. Everything boils down to perspective.
I look back upon my own past and wondered where the bitterness was when I was in such a situation? I vaguely remembered the feeling of hatred brewing from deep within but somehow I was fortunate enough to let it go quickly. I say fortunate because I’m able to turn my emotions on and off like a switch. Most people can’t and that is what drives them nuts. They don’t need you telling them what to do. They need you to tell the how to do it.
And this is where I try to deconstruct how it works for me and maybe it might help trigger something for you.
First of all, I don’t believe in unconditional love. That alone is probably the biggest circuit breaker I have when dealing with people who I perceive as taking me for granted. I’m happing to give 100% upfront, no questions asked. I expect gratitude to be shown in one way or another, preferably by actions (favour for favour), if not, cold hard cash, some time in the future. Your ‘Thank You’s are a consolation but in bulk they are as valuable as the spiel about “working to build your portfolio”. My time is precious. So is yours. If I want to do things for you it’s because I want to and it’s from my giving heart. The special promotion ends once you start expecting it as a norm.
Two, know your self-worth. Toxic people have a way making you feel inadequate and that it’s all your fault. Usually you won’t be able to see this as a problem until you’re out of it. Hindsight being 20/20. So how do you know if you are really worthy of something or it’s just you suffering from delusions of grandeur? Options. A person with options isn’t as likely to stand for such abuse as one who thinks he or she can’t do better. So if you’re a giver, go out there and do great things. At least when your integrity and efforts are called into question, you have other areas of life to draw a more balanced assessment of your worth. Your parter and you may have a misaligned expectations but at least you can handle the negotiation with better judgment.
In some cases, the situation isn’t as easy to resolve as making a clear-cut distinction to let go. Matters with the family, for example. It can get pretty tricky because you can’t cut ties (or at least I don’t advise that) or convince the other person by way of logical argument. If you can’t cut ties, and you’re all spent, the only option is to pull back and stop making any effort. You need the space to heal and the other person needs to know what he or she is missing out. And if after all is said and done, and the other person barely felt the absence of your effort, then you ought to relook at what it is that you’re giving. That may be something that’s valuable to you but in all sincerity isn’t as valuable to anyone else. Just because you like what you are selling, doesn’t means others have to agree with you, and that realisation is often the hardest pill to swallow. That truly the tree which fell on an uninhabited island is doomed to die a lonely non-existential life.