Don’t you just hate the feeling that you are being used? I mean, doesn’t it just boil your blood and make you want to shout out, “I’m a person not a machine!” Who wants to be taken advantage of? Who wants to be valued only for what they can give or do? Yet, it happens every day in your friendships, working relationships, your marriage, and most other types of relationships.
“I never use anyone,” you say. But the reality is that in one way, shape, or form you are absolutely dependent on those around you to help you move forward in your life. There is NO ONE who ever achieves great things who is completely independent of the help from those around him or her, NO ONE! Whether it is someone who helps you answer a question, discover a solution for a conflict, gives you advice, or affirms you so you feel empowered to keep going; every one of us need other people.
The question is not whether or not you are “using” people, it is whether or not you are valuing them for who they are, what they contribute to your life, and if you also are pouring back into them. When one gives to you and you intentionally refuse to appreciate him or her in any way, that my friend is called using them, not valuing them.
You are using people when you care more about what they can give you than how you can reciprocate their investment in your life, when you value what they contribute to your team, rather than value who they are. You are using people when the only reason you are in relationship with them is to help yourself get one foot ahead, when you insist that your needs be met before you are willing to meet their needs. Things are meant to be used, people are meant to be valued.
You cannot truly value others when you don’t value yourself. If you see your life only as an accumulation of achievements, skills, or work then you are not separating who you are from what you do. The consequence of this perspective is two-fold, once you can no longer achieve your value ceases to exist and you only value people for what they do. However, both you and those around you are more than machines, you are human beings. Value yourself today and value those around you.