The past week, I’ve been off because I’ve gotten sick again. The good news is, we’ve discovered why I constantly get sick: I found out I have parasites. With parasites, my body is unable to absorb nutrients that they are leeching off of me, and my immune system is constantly drained from fighting them, so as a result, I just don’t have the energy to deal with real sicknesses. For the next two weeks, I’m on a cleansing program that will purge all parasites from my system, followed by a heavy metals cleanse from all the build-up over the years.
With that in mind, I’ve also taken a good look at me and this lifelong process of fighting off social, mental, and emotional parasites. If I’m getting rid of the ones in my body, I should get rid of the ones around me, too. We all have them, and sometimes, without knowing it, we are them to others at times.
Sometimes you can be the really annoying friend who is constantly asking your pal simple questions that doing a Google search can better answer. Other times you can be the panhandler who honestly means to pay back money borrowed, but somehow never get around to do it. Or you can sap time and energy from others by constantly venting out your negativity without ever actually solving the problem. Maybe you might be that voice in someone’s head that keeps telling him that he’s a loser.
Whatever parasite you or someone may be, a simple rule I follow is this: don’t be a parasite, and don’t support parasites.
To show some ways to make sure you aren’t supporting parasites or being one yourself, here are a few guidelines I follow:
1. Never owe or be owed anything, by anyone This should be self-explanatory, but essentially, when someone owes another person something–whether it is a favor or money–this creates a friction in the personal relationship between people. Sometimes, a person will get fed up waiting and hoping the other party will honor their debt, and when they remind them, they end up being called a jerk who doesn’t understand. Granted, the other party may indeed find it difficult to pay back a debt, but it’s a bit hard to believe when money he’s earning is used to buy a Nintendo Wii instead of saving it up to pay back what’s been borrowed.
2. Never assume people want to hear about your problems People have all got their problems, and many of us bond from our shared experiences, which is why we end the work day over a beer complaining about how our jobs suck. At a certain point, you do need to become individually responsible for your problems. Ask if yourself if you complain about your problems because you want advice on how to fix them, or if you just don’t know if they are truly solvable. The answer is, most problems are self-created, and as such, can be self-resolved. If you’re complaining about the same girlfriend problems for more than a few months, then the real question is: what are you NOT doing about it? We’ve all got our own problems, and we’re not out to solve other people’s problems for them, and if you’re stuck in whining mode, you are wasting their time while losing their interest in being your friend, and you are wasting your time not acting on resolving your problem.
3. Always reciprocate! If you end up violating the first guideline and owing someone, a good way to get around this is to reciprocate. If a friend spends his time helping prepare you for interviews, looking over your résumé, and giving you pep talk, that’s a great person to count on your team, but he would sure love it if you’d introduce him to your cute friend. In some way or another, we all have something of value to each other, otherwise, we wouldn’t want to associate with one another. Now, this isn’t about saying we should all be using and abusing one another (which does happen in the entertainment industry a lot), but this value is very abstract: take for example, my friend Larry. What could I possibly want from him? Well, his company! I can relax around him, be myself, and whenever I help him out as a big brother, it’s because it’s better to help make more good individuals in the world than to turn them into parasites and jerks. So I do want something out of him, and that’s to have good company and help make sure he’s on his way to doing good in the world while living his dreams. How does he reciprocate? Catch me when I stumble and fall, because I’m not perfect or a know-it-all, and I do make my mistakes. I can count on him to say “Uh, dude, aren’t you being a little too judgmental?” while never giving me the finger and telling me that I’m hopeless, because he knows overall, I’m out to do good, just as he is.
4. Google is your friend. Most questions you have can be answered by a Google search or a quick browse through Wikipedia. You can’t assume to be an expert or have perfect understanding from this, but you will probably save a little time and sanity not bugging your friends for answers or help. Before I ask someone to explain something to me that I don’t get, I look in Google, and a lot of answers pop up. For example, I forgot how to do something in Microsoft Excel, so I looked it up, and I had access to the online manual, a YouTube video showing how to do the said task in every version from Windows 95 to Windows 7, and an about.com article. The answers are all out there, you just need to know where to look and how to ask. So if you can do it on your own, you probably don’t need to go bothering your friends for help, and they’ll appreciate the fact you’re helping yourself first. Also, you’ll end up looking independent and cool for rarely asking for their help and advice!
5. Know your self-worth. Fact: lawyers in Los Angeles can charge clients as much as $400/hour for using their paralegal. We paralegals earn much less than that, but our national average income is $50k. This means that for every 15 minutes I’ve wasted arguing with idiots on YouTube, I’ve lost $100–and that’s before adding my language and regional specialization, skills, and credentials from my MA. I guess I know my self-worth now! Most of the time, we become parasites when we think we need other people to justify our existences and self-worth. Moving up to the next stage when you know your self-worth, you realize people need you, and you go from being the leeching one to the leeched-on one. The key is to know that you are useful, but not get used. When you know you are useful, you don’t need to latch onto other people for support, and chances are, most will run to you. How do you avoid baiting them? By helping them realize that they can take care of themselves. Sure, sometimes, you may get a power trip from knowing people need you, but then you don’t get to take the time to help yourself since they’re sapping your energy and time. Don’t let this happen; tell them to help themselves, and if necessary, how to help themselves. Remember: when they ask to borrow money or to write their research paper, telling people “no” is actually helping them figure out other solutions besides looking for someone to solve their problems for them. That’s the best help: helping others help themselves.
In conclusion, I leave you with my newest affirmation: When victory looks impossible and defeat seems inevitable, I will still fight on. Why? Win or lose, it doesn’t matter–I will NEVER let the bastards win. 😉