Poor Clara!!

Dear Amy: I think I’m too considerate and helpful. I often go out of my way to help my friends. I always answer their messages right away. I’m always available when they ask. I guess I do this because it makes me feel important and loved.

When my friends are selfish, I get quietly resentful instead of brushing it off or calling them out.

My friends who have stronger personalities can “get away” with being rude or selfish. But whenever I do something selfish or rude, no one hesitates to let me know. My mom used to say about me with a laugh: “‘Clara’ is so nice, but everyone’s always mad at her.”

I care so much about being perceived as nice and fair, that I am unfair to myself. I have this irrational fear of anyone ever getting angry with me. Do you have tips for emotional strength, and learning to be less considerate?

Too Nice

Dear Too Nice: In human relationships, being less available often makes people respect you more. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s true.

I think you overextend yourself for others because you are worried that if you don’t, you might disappear. And that if you disappeared, you might not be missed. This insecurity makes you a target for more aggressive people.

Being kind and loving starts with how you treat yourself. You don’t have to go around confronting people (that’s not your style), but you do need to set limits, retreat if you don’t like the way you are being treated, and if someone is a jerk – reconsider whether it is worth being friends with them at all.

You should choose to be around people who value your kindness and generosity, and respect you as an individual. (c) Ask Amy

This letter broke my heart. I’ve been there!! I’m exactly like Clara–I value relationships above all else. And to be that way while trapped in a den of iniquity is awful. I’m so grateful for all the good friends I have now, and I wish the same for Clara. The problem is that when everyone you know is bad (for lack of a better word), it’s impossible to imagine that better people exist; and you certainly can’t but the bad people out of your life, or you’d wind up with no one! Who wants that? Well, loners, I guess. Not the rest of us. It’s a sad situation.

While I have no major issue with Ask Amy’s advice, I’d urge Clara to find better friends online. It’s a great place to look!! And then, if they live far away, you can visit them or not, depending on the individual circumstances. Friends really don’t need to live nearby as much as, say, a significant other would need to.

I think you overextend yourself for others because you are worried that if you don’t, you might disappear. And that if you disappeared, you might not be missed. This insecurity makes you a target for more aggressive people.

I dunno. I overextend myself for my nearest and dearest as well, but it’s because I care about them and I know they’d do the same for me. Ask Amy might be digging too deep with her analysis here. Some people (such as me and Clara) are loyalists–friendship is everything, relationships are the most meaningful thing on this earth, and connecting with people has deep value. I’m not sure there’s any underlying insecurity there.

In human relationships, being less available often makes people respect you more. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s true.

No, just no. Please, Ask Amy, let’s not preach this. No, no, no, no, no. One thing I told the guy I was talking to yesterday (and I have no idea what sort of relationship he and I will wind up having), was: “I take friendship very seriously, so if you ever need anything, come and find me.” (And for all of you out there reading this, same goes.) Unless I’m not at the computer, where I check in multiple times a day, I’d try to help if something were wrong.

Everyone on my friend list (shout-out!) is someone who I know would email me back right away if I were having a problem. (Not counting being away from tech devices.) Does that make me respect them less?! Goodness gracious, no. And I’d do the same for them, for sure! I can’t believe Ask Amy’s trying to tell Clara to be less available…? Yeah, I do agree that her current friends don’t appreciate her, but the answer isn’t to play “hard to get” (friendship-style). It’s to find better friends. Clara’s innate caring tendencies should be encouraged, albeit redirected to people who appreciate it, but they should not be shut down. I have spoken.

I refuse to accept Ask Amy’s insight as applying to people in general. Earning respect from people who are blockheaded enough to not appreciate loyalty shouldn’t be on anyone’s priority list. So if it’s true that such people respect less-available people more, it’s irrelevant and meaningless, because such people need not apply!!

On the other hand, Clara indicates a fear of people getting mad at her. I would tell her this: if the person is worthwhile, a bit of anger could be moved past. I agree that it can be scary to fear angering someone. (Okay, quit laughing at me, everyone.) HA HA HA HA. Oh, heck. Yeah. Well, I used to be like Clara, if you can believe it–you know, meek, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, never wanting to rock the boat. Now I’ve become super-outspoken. What I’d tell Clara is that there are ways to cope if someone gets mad. You can backpedal, you can apologize, you can blame hormones, etc., etc., depending on the circumstances mostly.

I think the other part of the problem here is that Clara’s afraid to assert herself. She’s terrified that if she says, “Look, I don’t like it when you [do such-and-such]…” then the response will be, “I don’t care! If you feel that way, then get out of my life,” or something. Two thoughts:

  1. You don’t want to be in such people’s lives, and
  2. Speaking up rarely has that effect. Usually, people will react to the specific issue at hand instead of going off the deep end like that.

Regardless, I’m thinking Clara should get some assertiveness training, via therapy or self-help books, etc. It could help.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Poor Clara!!

  1. I thought the line ‘I care so much about being perceived as nice and fair, that I am unfair to myself” was very telling. I see where Ask Amy was trying to go with saying be less available, but she missed the mark with it. The availability issue is just a manifestation of the lack of assertiveness skills.

    Liked by 1 person

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