I don’t like to disappoint people or let them down. I always aim to be accommodating, to do my best to help out, be a good friend, be supportive. There are times however, that I just can’t. It may be that I’ve made a mistake, someone else is at fault, or it’s unavoidable for another reason. There are also times when other people’s expectations are unreasonable, they have misjudged my capabilities, or perhaps what they expect isn’t right for them or me anyway, and I need to say ‘no’.
As I’ve got older I’ve gained some understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve begun to recognise my own limitations. I also know that I can’t please everybody. ‘You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.’ This quote is commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln, possibly adapted from poet John Lydgate (1370-1450); but oh so true!
I try not to make a promise when it is something that I don’t know for certain. I hate it when an adult promises something to a child, and then doesn’t do it, for whatever reason. That child can carry the disappointment for the rest of their lives, unacknowledged and unresolved. And I don’t like those films where the hero ‘promises’ everything will be alright; but despite all his good intentions, we all know as soon as he has said it, that it is actually beyond his power, and people are going to die, and nothing will ever be the same again.
So where do I go from here? I will continue to be a good friend, I will always make promises carefully, and I will carry on learning when to say ‘no’.