Self-Care: No Strings, No Stings

This is a recovered post from a botched website transfer in 2013. This post was originally written and published on 01/28/2013.

Several weeks ago, I read a blog post about Twitter etiquette. It was a practical article that gave readers some basic tips, like (totally paraphrasing here):

⚡️ Don't send or, worse, auto-send, direct messages to new followers, asking them to like you on Facebook, to subscribe to your blog, to follow you on Pinterest, etc.⚡️ #Don't #overuse #hashtags. #It #is #annoying #and #unnecessary.⚡️ Don't make your account a repetitive deluge of your blog posts, things you're selling, etc. (In other words, don't spam your followers.)⚡️ Don't expect everyone you follow to follow you back, and by the same token, don't follow everyone who follows you. Be discriminatory.

"Hey! Wait a bit," you might be thinking. "If I follow them, they should follow me, just like if they follow me, I should follow them," you might be huffing. "It's only fair. It's only right. Right?"If your response is similar, you're not alone. There were a few people who commented on the post in that vein. One woman, in particular, stood out.She made the example that she followed a celebrity author on Twitter who had tweeted to his followers about a book signing event he was doing at a location close to her.She replied to his tweet (which, to give some perspective, was directed to hundreds of thousands of followers), and let him know she wouldn't be able to attend, but appreciated the invitation.He didn't reply. She was outraged by his rudeness. Since he didn't reply to her reply, since he didn't acknowledge her, she would never buy another book of his.While it's an extreme and perhaps unusual example, its theme is universal, especially to women: expectation.Lucky us. We're soft-wired to expect like for like.

⚡️ If I send you a card, I expect you to send one in return.⚡️ If I offer to take care of your kids, I expect you to offer to take care of mine.⚡️ If I pick up the tab for lunch this time, I expect you to pick it up next time.⚡️ If I reply to your tweet, I expect you to reply to mine.

Lucky for us, we're soft-wired to expect like for like.Did you catch that subtle change from sarcastic negativity to affirmative positivity?

Lucky for us, we're soft-wired to expect like for like.

That means we can choose to relinquish that expectation. We can choose to change. We aren't doomed to be eternally disappointed by people who don't live up to our expectations.I replied to the woman who wrote the affronted comment on that blog post. I gently suggested to her that it was unreasonable to expect that author to reply to her reply.I further suggested that, in general, if we don't attach strings to things we do/give/say, and the people who are the recipients of those things, we don't get stung.I didn't expect a reply, so I wasn't upset that she didn't reply to my reply.

No strings, no stings.

Imagine the freedom of that. Even better, experience the freedom of that by putting it into practice. "Practice makes perfect" does not apply.Practice, yes, and know that it will get easier over time, but also know you may need to be vigilant in your practice many years down the line. Be gentle with yourself. There's no need to expect perfection. It's unreasonable.This post is the tipping point for this year's promised self-care series for women. I'll be linking to a guest post I wrote and is being published tomorrow as the second in the series.In September, I will be co-hosting a weekend retreat with three other women, and the theme will be self-care. Details to come by June, at the latest.

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