The Inner Bottom Line ®
A Column on Personal Choices & Ethical Dilemmas by Olive Gallagher
I had my own ethical dilemma this week during which I got a good look as well as a healthy reminder about the choices we get when faced with a difficult moment and have the chance to take the higher road.
Now we all know that one likes to have their back up against the wall with seemingly no place to go. No one likes to have to reveal, especially to a stranger much less a friend, that they’re lacking in anything - resources, answers, cleverness, courage, etc. And no one enjoys being stripped down, figuratively, in front of others, revealing our fragility, vulnerability and need.
And yet life will test us over and over again with moments like this in which we find ourselves in need of help, compassion and understanding from someone else, and the last thing in the world we want to have to do is beg.
Yet it’s in exactly those kinds of challenging moments when we often find ourselves taken advantage of, misunderstood or ignored. And that cuts deep.
When we act from a sense of scarcity, it’s logical that we don’t feel we have anything left over to give or share with anyone else.
For instance, you’re starving. You’ve been searching desperately for a scrap of food and finally, you find one. Just as you’re about to stuff it in your mouth, you notice another person, even more deprived than you. What would you do? Would you at least share, if not give away, the needed sustenance?
The question is worth asking, the answer worth considering. Even if the law or rules are on your side and there’s profit to be taken for yourself: you got there first, you’re bigger, you’re older, you’re in the right. Could you, would you, make the grand gesture? Would you choose the path less followed? Can your Inner Bottom Line lead you to do the unexpected and drop your weapon, knowing you’ll survive without this one gain, this one victory, in order to offer relief to another?
Scarcity? Or abundance? Which one do you lead from in a moment of personal need? Critical moments like these determine our standard of integrity, our legacy, define who we are and who we want to be.
Nobody goes it alone.
When you’re feeling bereft of heart, under the gun, late, overdue, screwed over, in debt, hurting, struggling, angry, needy, then you’re coming from scarcity. Scrapping by. That is, unless you have a storeroom of strength and understanding that you’ve put away for a rainy day to pull from. The stockroom that’s part of what I call Playing With a Full Deck™.
In moments like this, it’s easy to rationalize and justify your greed, standing on contractual rights or property lines or promises made or seniority won.
Each one of us is guilty of having done this, whether it’s sneaking into line at the movies or grabbing a parking space after we’ve observed a car at the other end of the lot with their blinker on probably waiting patiently for the spot. But on another level, we invariably will find ourselves in bigger, more serious situations, when giving away what is ours to someone else in the act of charity and generosity can save a life, a heart, or a soul.
I know it’s counter-intuitive. Goes against all logic. But the next time you’re feeling poor, out, running on empty, forgotten, overlooked, under-appreciated, I suggest you try this simple exercise.
Go volunteer at a shelter, a food bank, a hospital, or day care center. Get involved in any place that needs your presence and your ability to share a hug, a smile, a helping hand; any situation in which you can forget about your own neediness and fill the hole in someone else’s life by merely showing up.
It’s astounding how quickly we’re capable of moving outside ourselves and giving to others who needs are greater more ours when we decide to act from a place of abundance, even if we don’t initially feel there’s anything there to offer.
So what have you chosen lately in a moment of scarcity? Who are you and what are you made of? At the end of your life, what do you want it to stand for?
They’re hard questions that deserve honest answers, and those answers lie on The Inner Bottom Line. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at yours.
Olive Gallagher, a life coach, ethicist, and national columnist recently moved to Lake Oswego, OR and currently manages her private practice, is offering a six-week Stress Management: Skill Building & Process Group that will begin in May, and teaches classes twice a month at the LO Adult Community Center.
You can submit your questions and ethical dilemmas or book consulting appointments and private coaching sessions with Olive at 503-908-7842 or www.theinnerbottomline.com.
Hard cover, Kindle and audio versions of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life™, are now available on amazon.com.