People make decisions based on a variety of factors. Many of those factors will be heavily influenced by learned behaviour from parents, teachers, peers and colleagues and here things start to go a bit awry, because those decisions are based on OPS – Other People’s Standards. Only the most courageous and fearless will make decisions independently, as most people will do what they will have been influenced by their social culture to do. In the western world, most cultural trends are based on materialism, not love and kindness, so practicality, logic and the head rule the day rather than compassion, love and the heart.
Most people try to balance love with practicality and think they get away with it but they do not; a mother or father may, for instance, still be tapping in a ‘vital’ work text simultaneously while speaking to a nine year old son, erroneously thinking parental duty is being fulfilled; but it is not and that little fellow will know he is being short changed, even if he does not say so. His self esteem will sag. That precious family call may well be half shared with a textee who possibly cares very little for the parent and even less for that child – and yet the recipient of that message is allowed to over-rule the family by stealing their valuable time. Some may argue that without such head-based decisions, the overall security of the family may be threatened and that of course is a valid observation.
Once my two year old daughter called my office. I was working as a researcher for British Oxygen in London at the time. She asked to speak to ‘Mummy’. The receptionist asked what Mummy’s other name was and my daughter irately said it was just ‘Mummy’. It was a credit to this delightful employee that she asked a few more questions before ascertaining that I fitted the bill. At the time, hundreds of people were employed where I worked. Of course I took the call and I had to agree with my daughter that it was very important, because she said she had phoned to tell me that she and her babysitting granny had run out of chocolate biscuits.
It is when the office or outsiders takes precedence every time that a vatload of guilt is inadvertently collected, to be spilled out if the neglected loved one should leave the frame of life prematurely – which does happen. Time lost with loved ones can never be replaced; but that meeting can be rescheduled.
Putting our loved ones first as often as possible does two things. It says, ‘I love you more than anything and am so grateful to have you in my life’ and ‘I’m preventing the accumulation of guilt’. To understand the power of this, stop now and imagine the worst possible scenario of loss. It hurts; in fact, it rips one’s heart to shreds, possibly because guilt has already started to form, due to inadvertent neglect; but it is never too late to start change, even though children often may grow up with esteem deficits. When you speak to your loved ones, give them your fullest attention. When they wish to speak to you, let them and if you really can’t, because you are in a mountain chalet with bad telephone reception and your fancy mistress or gigolo, you make your way down to call back that day. Tomorrow may be too late – for your loved one or for you. Love to your fullest now – and make it the family first.