Due to the PG rated content of posts on the Magnus Insights blog, I changed the last word of the title of this post from what it used to say to “jerks.” “Jerks” is, perhaps, not as colorful as the word I originally used in the title, however, it is less likely to offend the more sensitive among our readers. Regardless of the word chosen, the point of this third post in a series about time is that all of us can choose how we spend our time. I have made a conscious choice over the past few years to limit how I spend my time and, just as important, with whom I spend my time. For example, there are many people in my family and in my husband’s family as well with whom I do not spend my time. There are other people with whom I spend time, but on as limited a basis as possible. My personal time is not endless and, as such, I reserve it for people who are nice, fun, and/or in need of my help. (When one is a psychologist, one spends a considerable amount of time, unpaid, I might add, helping one’s friends and family through crises in their lives.) I have learned that, instead of dreading having to spend time with a “jerk,” I am far better off declining the opportunity and doing just about anything instead. In recent years, I regularly excuse myself from gatherings with certain members of my husband’s extended family because I do not enjoy their company, nor do they enjoy mine. Instead, I wish my husband well, then I stay home, or visit a sick friend, or go to the beach, or go to hear a friend perform in a rock band, or pet my cat, or engage in any one of a number of other things that bring me peace and joy. Life is too short to waste by being around mean, rude, vulgar people. Decide what you value in life; I value my time too much to spend it on people I do not like!
Lest it seem that Melissa is singling anyone out in my family, she has also been selective in time spent with people on her side of the family, and its extensive, extended, branches. In fact, I think she started her selectivity with them. And, then with some friends who seemed to be unidirectional friends. It is often said that “family is family.” But, that doesn’t seem to equalize the equation. Her plan to be selective with time spent with certain people is really a matter of prioritizing her time in life. Melissa has been generous with her time and providing listening/coaching skills all of her life, including well before she became a trained and professional listener. And, this continues, but what has changed is her unwillingness to do so with people when the give and take ratio is significantly imbalanced. Some of these relationship equations involved both time and money. But, as the focus is on time in this series of posts, I’ll keep to that. As awkward as it may be to decline invitations from family or friends with whom spending time is not positive, most people have had experiences suffering in silence. It is clear from reading advice columnists that this is a common human experience. I remember a friend reporting a roommate who was “chinking at his armor.” Movies have been made about fake friendships (think Mean Girls) or real life situations where people are backstabbers, not friends. So, whether someone is at the backstabbing extreme or someone is merely annoying, there often comes a time when one must decide whether to suffer in interactions, or as Melissa decided, to remove oneself from the conflicts, the annoyances, and instead, spend the time more productively, or at least in ways more rewarding than going with the status quo.