1. You act out of guilt or false obligation.
So there you are, going to the music festival with your friend Stacy. But you hate music festival. So why are you going? Because you “feel bad.” Or because no one else will go. Or because you think you should. Would it be possible to simply tell Stacy you don’t like dance recitals? Apparently everyone else has.
2. You won’t speak up.
Your roommate never takes out the trash. So you do. Your friend never offers to pay. So you do. Your co-worker takes all the credit. So you don’t. Stop being a doormat. Say something.
3. Your loyalty is a one way street.
You work hard for your employer. You are a trustworthy partner. You are considerate of your boyfriend. Do they reciprocate? If not, move on. Find someone for whom the virtue of loyalty is just as important as it is to you.
4. You don’t ask why.
If you don’t understand why you are being asked to do something at work, what do you do? If you are getting passed over for a promotion, what do you do? If you are being ostracized, what do you do? Here’s a simple suggestion. Ask why. It’s the most powerful and disarming question you can ask.
5. You form opinions (or adopt the opinions of others) without any basis.
I would probably hate that French movie. I would probably hate sky diving. I would probably hate Vietnamese food. I would probably hate that bitch who lives next door. You may be right, but try it anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised.
6. You’re too cool.
Too cool to dance. Too cool to wear a Halloween costume. Too cool to hug your best friend. Too cool to tell someone you love them. Don’t be so self conscious. You know who is really cool? People who don’t give a shit what everyone else thinks about them. And people who aren’t afraid to be a little vulnerable.
7. You’re soooo busy.
You volunteer for the humane society and the food bank. And you’re the room mom. You’re always available. Then you get angry when people don’t appreciate you or people take advantage of you.
What did you think would happen? You created that expectation. I was on a committee at our local University. I faithfully attended every meeting. I was prepared and interested. Another member of the committee showed up about every third time. When he did show up he would waltz into the meeting about ten minutes late, offer a few thoughts and leave. He fostered this notion that we were damn lucky he had the time to show up at all. This gave him an air of distinction and importance. People would hang on his every word. It’s human nature. When you’re always available people will take you for granted.
8. You’re too modest.
We live in a world of blowhards. Look at me! Look at my poem or my dog or my kid’s baseball team! Everyone is screaming so loud it’s almost impossible to discern shit from silver. You want your work to just speak for itself? That ain’t gonna happen. If you’ve done something noteworthy, tell people about it. Then tell them again. Then one more time. But please, only if it’s truly noteworthy. We’re all set with ab selfies and videos of drugged kids coming home from the dentist. (By the way, did I happen to mention my book, now available through Thought Catalog? There’s a link at the bottom of this page.)
9. You don’t exploit your connections.
When I was graduating from college a friend of mine came in and told me he had a job with the Dallas Cowboys. I was stunned. How? He always wanted to work for a sports franchise so he started to ask people he knew whether they had any connections. He kept doing it over and over. He employed the degrees of separation theory. And he kept at it.
Don’t think of yourself as an imposition. Most people would be happy to help you. Even if your connection is remote, ask anyway. Let people know what you are looking for. If you don’t ask them, someone else will.