Day 309: Learning Cooperation

Since childhood I have experienced a resistance towards helping others when they ask, especially if I am at that moment doing something that I enjoy. For example, I might be sitting down writing, or playing guitar, and then someone comes into my room and asks me if I am able to run an errand for them. I will experience resistance in that moment; and usually what happens is that I will tell the person ‘not now!’ – and then continue doing what I am doing.

This way of approaching favors, and services has its roots in my childhood. When I was young I had many experiences where I would sit in my room, back then, primarily playing video games, and my parents would come storming in, often irritated, and demand of me that I do some form of chore in the house – and if I did not do it immediately they would threaten to turn off my computer, and sequester it until I do. These events were traumatic for me, because I would in one moment be sitting with and enjoying myself, then in the next moment everything would change and instead I would be demanded to do something I did not particularly want to do – NOW; and this created an experience within me of feeling invaded.

Now, I am soon thirty years old, and still I experience this feeling of being invaded the moment someone enters into my life and, while I am busy with other stuff, asks me to do something. And another interesting thing is that I will most of the times believe that they want me to do something NOW, while they sometimes do not have a specific time in mind.

I have realized that this pattern and experience of feeling invaded each time someone asks me to do something for him or her must now be directed. It influences me not only at home, but also at my work, where I will feel slightly aggravated and annoyed with each assignment or task that is added to my plate. It is common sense that we all have to do things we do not necessarily like, and that we had not initially planned on doing. Things can come up, and tasks might be proving to be too big for one individual to deal with by himself or herself. There are a myriad of reasons as to why someone would need my help; and it is not an invasion that is happening – it is simply someone asking me to do something for them.

I do not loose myself by for a moment, stopping what I am doing, and then moving myself to do something else, which I might not necessarily want to do, but that I see is important and relevant. I can always get back to what I was doing later on, and if I do have a tight schedule and I am sitting with something that I must get done now, I can communicate this, and then make a plan to help out later on. For communities to effectively work we MUST help each other, I have skills that others does not have, and they have skills I do not have, some are strong, some are intelligent, some are fast, others not, and when we share our skills and time with one another, we create added value for each other. If we only tend to our own interests, projects, and desires, the consequence is that we will limit ourselves. Cooperation is one of those awesome expressions that will add value to everyone involved. Together we can do more than we are able to do alone.

Another aspect of this is that many times what is asked of me, it does not only concern the other person but also me. For example, cleaning the house, this is something that will support me as well. Feeding the cats and making sure that they have sufficient with food and water, this is something that must be done, and it does not matter who does it. Feeling invaded and attacked clouds me from seeing the positive effects that can come out of taking the action asked of me, and how it can influence my world positively as well.

I can conclude that helping each other out is really important, being able to work together is important, and that cannot happen if one of the parties feels invaded every time a favor is asked. However, this does not mean that I should do EVERYTHING asked of me – it is important to make sure that I do have the practical space and time required to deal with my own responsibilities as well. It is not worth it to compromise my own commitments; a solution here would instead be to, as I shared earlier, make a plan and schedule a time for helping later on when this do not compromise my other responsibilities.

Solution

What are then the solutions? I have already touched on them: It would be to stop this experience of feeling invaded the moment it comes up – simply STOP – then to instead listen to what is asked of me, and unconditionally assess whether I am able to, or not, at this time, assist and support. And if I am able to, I have the time, to simply get up and move myself to help, remembering that I will be able to return to what I was doing later on – and that I am adding value to my life and the life of another. If I however do not have the time, then I can schedule one, and also explain to the person why I cannot help them at this moment.

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