Considering others: not wasting time

               Considering the feelings of others is of utmost importance to a well-bred woman and is one of her primary characteristics. It may, in fact, be the hallmark of her very existence. Many women can become well-mannered, well-educated, or well-endowed with abilities and resources, but few choose to consciously consider others within the context of everything they do.

               A well-bred woman lives her life carefully and conscientiously. She considers each decision before making it and weighs the ramifications of her actions upon not only herself but also those around her. One area for consideration involves how she chooses to spend her time. If she is careless, a woman may draw friends with good intentions into her chronic shortcomings, such as an inability to stay focused, spend time well, or finish a job. How a woman chooses to spend her time directly affects others, especially well-meaning friends who just want to be there and support another woman no matter what. The more trusting and faithful a friend is, the more likely she is to feel hurt or let down when she finds that her time, trust, advice, and presence have been misused.

               I think American women often feel obligated to be the perfect friend. We want to be there all the time, solve every problem, be the heroine, and save our friend! We patiently put up with all her flaws. Too often we may end up hurt or disappointed when our efforts go unnoticed or do not bring about the end we had desired, as in the case of someone who may have their own chronic time-wasting issue to work out. Of course, since nobody is perfect, swearing off friendship forever while becoming highly judgmental and mistrustful of others would not be characteristic of a well-bred, thoughtful woman. However, with a little practice in recognizing issues and sticking to her boundaries, a woman can control the amount of time, energy, and effort she puts into each friendship, thereby maintaining most of them without feeling used. A well-bred woman will gracefully cut back excessive emotional and physical involvement in a relationship while making everyone as happy as possible.

               What types of personal shortcomings in a woman might cause her friends to feel as though she is taking advantage of them? Areas in which she wastes her own time can often overflow into a friend’s life, causing the friend to waste time, too. Some examples include daydreaming, gossiping, fruitless planning, creating castles in the sky, envying others, wishing without doing, browsing the internet, looking at pictures or articles of other people’s lives endlessly, reading frivolous material, and constantly gaming or texting. In short, these personal shortcomings occur when good activities such as imagination, conversation, and relaxation are made futile through overuse, thereby not producing results to make life better.

               When deciding to engage in any activity, a woman should measure its worthiness by asking these questions: Is this worth my time? Does this further my life’s purpose? Does this line up with my principles? Does this involve the use of another’s time, emotions, or insight and knowledge? If so, is this worth involving that other person? It is important that consideration for others who may be drawn into the activity be part of a well-bred woman’s decision.

               A tendency to excessive daydreaming or future planning, for example, may lead a woman to unwittingly steal her friends’ time, emotions, advice, knowledge, or insight. If she never acts on anything, this woman’s friends may begin withdrawing or becoming aloof if they feel their interactions with her are not worth their investments into her.

               At this point, I could discuss the situation at hand from two perspectives: that of the person who draws others into her time-wasting feats or that of the friend who got caught up in another’s fruitless activities. Though I originally intended to do both, I feel more prepared to discuss it from the latter point of view. As to the former, her cure will come via asking the questions to consider before engaging in any activity that involves others and through the constant mantra of considering others in everything she does.

               My blog’s title was inspired by my looking back over the last decade and noting the lessons that women I have known have learned about life’s purpose, friendships, manners, and responsibility. Today’s subject reminds me of a woman who got caught up twice in a friend’s philandering of her time, emotions, knowledge, and advice.

               Once there was a young woman whose family had recently joined a new church. They were quickly drawn in by another family, who often invited them over for dinner or talked to them for hours after services. The young woman noticed that this family seemed to not have any other close friends in the church, even though they had been attending for over a year, but she naively concluded that certain people do not always click with others and that her family must really click with this family. But one day, she realized they did not mesh as well as she had thought. The young woman was a busy housewife and mother of small children. Her new-found friend had older children who were self-sufficient and attending school. This friend spent one to two hours each day talking on the phone to the young woman, who was grateful at first for adult interaction during her long, lonely days. Unfortunately, not only did the phone calls become longer and longer, the discussion content became more and more negative as the friend vented all her criticism and disappointment with her life, her past, and specifically the church they both attended. The young woman felt like she was sucked into a time stealing and negative thought creating vortex. She was not assertive enough to curtail the conversation’s length or content after having already answered the phone, so she began not taking her friend’s calls. She tried stretching out their calls to every other day, then twice a week. As the calls continued to be long and unfruitful, she finally decided to limit interaction with this woman to church only. She dutifully explained to her new friend that she would no longer be available for phone calls, noticing that her friend ignored her. At about the same time, her family missed one Sunday’s attendance due to out of town guests and the next week’s due to illness. In that time, her so-called friend and some other church members began gossiping furiously that her family was leaving the church, and she was surprised to receive several angry phone calls from many members expressing their dismay over her family’s alleged decision to leave the church. Of course, the young woman’s friend called, too, but trying to stick to her new goal of church-interaction only, she felt unfit to take the calls. This led to the friend showing up unannounced at the young woman’s house one morning. As this story has gone on long, to sum up the young woman did not handle the situation well but let things escalate, and lost her friendship while eventually having to seek a new church family due to the large-scale gossip that had sprung up around her. Upon reflection, the young woman realized that she ought not have gotten too close to new friend so quickly before fully realizing her character, and that she should have curtailed her involvement in her friend’s time-wasting chatter as soon as she was aware of the problem. She firmly believed that in the future, a friendship need not be sacrificed if she were to respond promptly and properly to such a situation again.

               A few years later, the young woman again found herself devoting much time, effort, and thought to a friendship in which another woman sought advice and collaboration. As she loved to advise and solve problems, the young woman eagerly invested hours of time helping her friend plan, troubleshoot, and tweak. After a couple of months, however, the young woman realized that she had been taking her friend’s plans more seriously than the friend was. What the young woman regarded as serious questions and ideas, such as asking others to make commitments to responsibility and time, were apparently not so very serious to the friend making the plans. When the young woman realized that all her investment had been for naught, she felt let down for a day. Then she realized that all was not lost because the friendship was still there, and that though differing levels of maturity and worldly wisdom had caused her and her friend to see things differently, she need not throw away the friendship by attempting to force her point of view upon her friend and certainly not by cutting off communication. She quietly but gradually eased up on her involvement in the fairy-tale project and made sure above all that her words were always positive and encouraging to her friend. Through the wise diplomacy of a thoughtful woman, the young woman managed to continue to meet her friend’s emotional needs by letting her know how much she valued and appreciated her without making the friend feel guilty about the young woman’s own decision to become over-involved. The two women remain friends, and as far as I know there are no hard feelings between them.

               The well-bred woman will be ever changing, growing, adapting, and taking life’s lessons to apply to the future; she will always be a work in progress. Above all, she will always consider the feelings of others because kindness and thoughtfulness undergird her character.

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2 thoughts on “Considering others: not wasting time

  1. “Is this worth my time? Does this further my life’s purpose? Does this line up with my principles?”

    This article was perfect and exactly what I needed to hear. I will be asking myself these questions as I progress into being a well bred woman.

    Like

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