I’ve got a problem, friends. It seems like I’ve been dealing with this more than usual lately. It always starts out the same: I will hear from a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. That always feels good, right? Someone drops back into your life seemingly out of the blue, and wants to know all about how you’re doing! No matter how I answer the seemingly innocent questions about my life, work, family and health, the conversation inevitably turns to an exciting new opportunity. (Is this starting to sound familiar?) Whether it’s to make more money while staying home to manage my health, essential oils, smoothies, vitamins, or diets, the common denominator is the Multi-Level Marketing product that’s going to change my life. Can you get excited!?!? No, not so much.
My first experience with having someone try to take advantage of my disability for their own financial gain was quite a while ago. A coworker knew I’d been having a hard time with my Cerebral Palsy, and asked if I’d like to have lunch and talk about what was going on? I had only been getting my shots for about a year, and my doctor was still trying to get the dosage and timing right. Still, the outlook was promising, even if we still had a way to go to get to a therapeutic treatment plan. After listening to me talk about how hopeful I felt, my coworker assumed a worried expression. Botox is literally poison, I was told. He was heartbroken that I was subjecting myself to toxic chemicals that were sure to kill me. I explained to him that my surgeon, who is a medical doctor while my friend is not, had discussed possible side effects and potential dangers of the medication with me. I had made a well-informed decision to proceed with the treatment, and was having really good results! My friend shook his head. He proceeded into a full-on sales pitch about a juice he and his wife were selling. To say I was disappointed is quite an understatement. I really thought this was someone who cared for me, and wanted to see me be well.
Right now, someone is reading this who really does believe in the product they sell. You know what? I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong. But I am going to tell you to stop trying to sell it to me as a cure. I don’t think you have any idea how much you can hurt someone without meaning to. In fact, I believe that most of you have good intentions and really want to help.
Off the top of my head, I’m going to write out suggestions lay people have made for my CP/Depression:
-Personal life coaching
-Stopping my meds
-Stopping my CP treatments
Some of these are an absolute crock, some of them may help, some do help. But here’s the thing: What I choose to do or not do is just that: MY CHOICE. One of the options on the list is wonderful for CP, but horrible for Depression. If someone makes a suggestion to me and I choose not to take it, it’s not a personal affront to that person. Hang on, let me repeat that a little louder for the people in the back or in case anyone showed up late: IF I DON’T TAKE YOUR SUGGESTION, IT’S NOT PERSONAL. Now, if you start insisting after I’ve explained why I am choosing not to do as you’ve suggested, we’re going to have a problem. Unfortunately, the former friend I told you about at the beginning of this article is not the only person to try to pull this type of theme.
Now here’s something you may not have thought about if you believe peddling snake oil is harmless: It hurts to be thought of as someone’s potential customer, potential recruit, or science project. I know you may mean well. The damage is still done. I’m fairly certain my name is on a number of lists of independent sales consultant’s “People who NEED…” Insert name of product here.
Let’s go back to our Wellness Plans for a minute. Don’t give me that look, I never said there wouldn’t be homework! The plans that work the best are the ones with well thought out lists. We don’t have a support person, we have support people. We make lists of coping skillS, plural. Any time anyone says that there’s a miracle cure, RUN. That’s not how any of this works. You know what works best for me from the aforementioned list? Lots! How much? Depends! Whose business is it? Mine! Now having said that, I place a very high value on relationships. The people close to me know a good bit about both the CP and the Depression. They know what works for me, and how to help. But at the heart of all of that is their desire to see me well. It works both ways, I want the people I love and care about to be well too! But if I start imposing and telling them that I know better than they do, there’s a problem. If I am offended by someone rejecting my help, that says more about me than them. Stepping back from our egos is one of the biggest challenges we deal with in relationships. This is even more true when we believe that we’re right! But I’ll finish this one up with the following question: What’s your priority? If it’s truly someone’s well being, they shouldn’t need to bring their wallet.