I was listening to Journey’s “Be Good To Yourself” the other day and the power of the lyrics struck me as being incredibly relevant in the 21st century.
If you’ve never heard the song before, here are the lyrics:
Runnin’ out of self-control
Gettin’ close to an overload
Up against a no win situation
Shoulder to shoulder, push and shove
I’m hangin’ up my boxin’ gloves
I’m ready for a long vacation
Be good to yourself when, nobody else will
Oh be good to yourself
You’re walkin’ a high wire, caught in a cross fire
Oh be good to yourself
When you can’t give no more
They want it all but you gotta say no
I’m turnin’ off the noise that makes me crazy
Lookin’ back with no regrets
To forgive is to forget
I want a little piece of mind to turn to
So many people I run into in the course of my Life could stand to listen to this song carefully and strive to live by the message contained within.
Yes, I realize that we all have many competing obligations, pressures and priorities in our lives, pulling us in a myriad of directions and threatening to topple us at any moment.
But many of the situations we find ourselves in exist because we allow them to exist.
There are many times when we find ourselves being pummelled by people who strive to execute their personal or professional agenda at the expense of our own lives - people who find our ethics, values and beliefs to be a threat to their own intentions and who will do anything to accomplish their intentions.
Our lives get very complicated when we allow such people to steamroll over us.
Maybe it’s because we prefer to avoid confrontation and will sacrifice our very soul to avoid it.
Maybe we’ve been taught from an early age to try to please everyone (often at our own expense) or to follow the belief that “turning the other cheek” is always the best policy.
Sadly for some, their ethics, morals and values are actually fluid (and often for sale) and they go with the flow with the rationalization that “if I allow this to happen, then I can benefit by ……”, not realizing that they have traded short-term gain for long-term pain.
Meanwhile, people lose a little piece of themselves every day, becoming more and more disenchanted with their Life as they realize they are not living the Life they had hoped to be living.
Many of these people know deep inside that they have the ability to change their Life but for some painful reason that they can’t put their finger on (or they are afraid to follow through on), they just don’t get it done.
And this makes their pain feel even more intense and the solution seem even more elusive.
Maybe … just maybe …. if we realized our incredible potential and our responsibility towards living up to that potential, we would say “I stand for something better and deserve better treatment than this”.
Imagine a Life where we learn to say “no” more often when others attempt to bury what we represent under their selfish intentions and where we take a stand that represents the ethics, morals and values that we believe are important to ourselves and to the world.
Maybe at this point, we would realize how important it is to “Be Good To Yourself”.
Do you know how important it is?
What are you doing about it … right now?
In service and servanthood,
After I posted this, I found this piece of research, from an article by Chuck Colson, to be interesting and somewhat related:
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” researchers Rob Willer, Ko Kuwabara and Michael Macy devised a set of ingenious experiments that showed how distressingly easy it is to make people go against what they believe to be true.
One of the experiments involved wine-tasting, in which participants evaluate both the wine and one another’s wine-tasting skills. The participants were given three samples of wine. In reality, all three samples were from the same bottle. One had even been tainted with vinegar!
Before they delivered their evaluation, they listened to other participants, who were plants, who praised the vinegar-laced wine as the best. Half of the participants went against their own taste buds and joined in praising the vinegary concoction.
Even more interesting is what happened next. Another participant, who was also a plant, told the truth about the wines. But when it came time for the participants to evaluate each other, some of them were permitted to do so confidentially, and the others had to do so publicly.
The ones who gave their evaluations confidentially praised the truth-teller. But those who had to evaluate the truth-teller publicly actually turned on him and gave him low marks.
The researchers call this phenomenon “false enforcement,” which they define as “the public enforcement of a norm that is not privately endorsed.”
What sustains the norm isn’t its popularity, much less its validity, but instead the desire to “avoid a negative social judgment from one’s peers,” according to the report. Important words.
And the desire to “avoid a negative social judgment” feeds what German sociologist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann called the “spiral of silence.”
Simply stated, out of a desire to avoid reprisal or isolation, people go along with what they think is the popular opinion — even if they object to that opinion personally. Instead of voicing their objections, they remain silent.