Tool For Tuesday: M.Y.M.

Are you doing unto others so that they will do unto you?

My friend Joelle said that she asks people in her family, “Do you want a cup of coffee? A glass of water?” she’s thinking, “I wish someone would offer me a cup of coffee…”

It dawned on her that she would have to get one herself. Or ask someone to get one for her. But she wanted to stop trying to manipulate those around her into reading her mind. She said, “I have to follow M.Y.M.” Mind Your Manipulation.

Go for direct communication. I didn’t grow up with it so I didn’t know how to do it. It’s like learning a new language. Did you grow up with, “Look how many things I’ve done for you. Couldn’t you just once [fill in the blank] ____wash the dishes, sweep the floor?”

Learning how to ask for what you want in a direct way is difficult. “Do you think you can sweep the floor?” is English that works fine.

If you live with younger kids, make a job chart that is age-appropriate so they know what they have to do and you don’t have to be a broken record. (Down the road, nobody will know what a broken record is. What will people say?)

If you live with a spouse and you’re bickering about who-does-what, when you’re both in a good mood, talk about who-does-what. Get it out in the open. Air that complaint in a calm way. Come up with a distribution of chores that seems fair. Make a list. Make it clear. You can work out solutions to any problem. Who takes out the garbage isn’t that big a problem.

There are ways to M.Y.M.

  1. Direct communication. Say what you want in a loving way.
  2. Remember that it’s OK for you to have needs. And to get those needs met.
  3. Nobody can read your mind.
  4. If you give someone a reminder, that’s being helpful. If you tell them twice, you’re being a borderline nudge. Three times, you’re overstepping your boundary. Even with kids.
  5.  Don’t do unto others what thou don’t wanna do. Ask thyself if you’re doing it to get something in return. You can say no, you know. You can say yes, but don’t think that your yes immediately begets someone else’s yes. They have the right to say no. So do you.

MYM. Strive for clean-cut communication. Use simple, direct speech. Don’t add a big spiel to your request (the story behind the story). If you’re thinking, “After all I did for Joe and Moe, they could just this once…” then you’re not living authentically. You’re doing to manipulate. And then you’ll get a whole bunch of resentments.

Don’t do unto others with the secret hope that that is what they’ll do unto you.

If you’re thinking of direct communication, join Cynthia Morris at Original Impulse in her online writing workshop for the writing fling zone. Got 15 minutes a day? Of course you do. That’s all it takes! Here’s her website address. She’ll be my guest, soon, on this blog!

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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2 Responses to Tool For Tuesday: M.Y.M.

  1. M.Y.M. is wonderful. Basic, real, easy to remember. Like you, I wasn’t raised in a family that manipulated–BUT outside my family it was everywhere. I was in college before I heard a psychology professor’s lecture on the types and techniques of subtle manipulation, but you gave it a personal, specific twist!

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