Aren't You Being Used?

Aren’t you being used, Hailey? Or are you being, evolving, self-realizing? I truly wonder. It was out of concern for your sense of self I chose to pen you this letter.

I sit at my laptop, my hands hovering over the keyboard as I carefully construct the next sentence in my mind. Stay with me here.

You see, Hailey, it is well-known that human beings use others around them! There are many people who shrug this off as a fact of life, oblivious to the fact that their schemata is their biggest problem.

How so? Let me explain further. Schemata is the set of preconceived ideas a human being holds about how the world works. Or should work.

When new experiences occur, a human being holds it up against his schemata in his mind.

So I smile slightly when people tell me Oh, that’s how life is! These people, usually much older people who presume that the mere advantage of age gives them a special access to the ultimate reality, are strongly in the grip of confirmation bias!

They see what they want to see, they gravitate towards people who confirm their strongly held schemata and as such become too concrete in their thinking to see that different schemata could prevent them from being used!

Really? I almost heard you ask. Yes, really. This is not to say that I have never been used, but hey, Hailey, did I even have a self then? Who exactly was the I?

How could I have prevented myself from being used if I didn’t even have a self to start with?

When I let people define me?

Hailey, I was so used to adapting and adjusting to what was expected of me that I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame.  If someone told me something about my personality was wrong, bad, beneath me I started seeing it that way.

Poor self-differentiation at work.

I was not to blame, though. I’ve read that societies of People of Colour are usually low on self-differentiation. In many respects, I was a product of my environment and culture. Until one day…

I came across a quote purportedly attributed to the Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti Truth is a pathless land! This quote gave me the strength to set out on the path of defining myself!

  • In so doing, I had to get in touch with my core values. I defined these core values for myself, instead of relying on the morals handed down by society to guide my actions and inactions.

The interesting part of it was at the time, my core values were more hedonistic in nature. They were just a means of achieving joy and avoiding pain in life.

This leads me to

  • I chose a self-concept that was comprised of self-image, self-esteem, self-worth, self-value, self-acceptance, and self-compassion.

True that at the time, my self-concept helped me somewhat, but it was based on the fact that the premium I placed on myself was how useful I was to society and humanity. Thus, I saw myself as a tool, a means to an end!

Please don’t get me wrong, Hailey. When I write this way, it is because I once read a Facebook post that went thus:

Men use money and material things to attract women, and complain when women they attract want just their money; while women use sex {looking, feeling, acting and being sexy} to attract men, and complain when men want just sex from them!

Aren't You Being Used?
For the most part, the entertainment industry encourages the narcissistic element in human beings who then feel entitled to dictate how their entertainers should look, speak, behave, and live their lives!

In my own case, the premium I placed on myself was Oh, people value me for my intelligence, my wise counsel and the fact they learn loads from me!

I was blissfully unaware of the fact that to these people, the end they sought was intellectual prowess, and I was just a mere means to achieving that!

A most unpleasant fact, when you consider the fact that viewing myself in that manner was wont to attract those who merely saw me as an extension of themselves!

What does that mean? It means that for such people, what they sought in my person was just a reflection of the positive (or tolerable) parts of themselves, while they sometimes projected onto me their shadow self, which would make me reflect back to them the negative parts of themselves!

How was I supposed to feel truly self-actualized if I let myself be a mere object to people, whose perception of me as a human being was just a vague idea, an abstraction?

Woah, woah, woah! Aren’t you just playing the victim here? For the love of Mike, you can’t tell me there was absolutely nothing you did to find yourself in such a situation, can you?

Mea culpa, Hailey. I accept responsibility. I too saw human beings as a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Whatever value I placed on a human being was because of the end result he provided.

So I’d be like I like William as he is very intelligent. I enjoy discussing with him and he is a suave young man!

The end results I wanted here were:

  • Increase in my intellectual prowess;
  • Feeling good, aka mere hedonism;
  • An increase in my elegance, finesse, polish, and ultimately my social standing.

From this, it is evident that the value I placed on William was that of a means to an end, not an end in himself.

When I would endeavor and ultimately succeed in treating William well, I would do so with the thought that my association with William was important to me.

So that I could continue receiving my cheap supply of intellectual prowess, dopamine boost, and elevation of my social standing.

In fairness to myself, it is likely William himself didn’t particularly feel as used as I try to paint in this letter to you.

OK, how did you snap out of your narcissistic tendencies?

  • I redefined myself, conscious of the fact that I am an end in myself and this is what makes me a worthy, valuable human being.
  • My core values became eudaimonic-oriented, instead of hedonistic-oriented.
  • Conscious of the self/other principle in psychology, which I understand as the way you view and treat others is a projection of the way you actually view and treat yourself! I chose to view human beings as valuable, an end in themselves, not a means to an end.

The net result is that in my workplace, I am confident to be! 

I realize that I am a valuable employee to my employers not because I am a money minting writing machine that increases their revenue, but because I am confident to be.

This makes me shift from a doing mode in the workplace to a being mode, which has resulted in my being centered, relaxed and unhurried in my work. Instead of being frenetic!

My writing at work is greatly improved, as I recall the words of Henri Matisse:

Creativity takes courage!

Courage is one of my core values, even better made manifest in my activities now I choose to express it in a eudaimonic manner, instead of a hedonistic manner!

Now I’m confident to be, I’m secure in the knowledge I can’t be used, more so when the potential user doesn’t even know who the I is. Or who he himself really is!

Well, Hailey, I gotta run. I hear the home delivery man ringing the doorbell and he ain’t got all day!


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  1. You see this life, I can’t tell you how it works but I’d tell you what I want from it. If someone else wants the same thing from it, and it coincides with what I want out of life, good. If someone suddenly finds joy in being a servant which is more like being a tool to meet an end, then so be it. I wouldn’t call it that the being is living under people’s dictate. If someone is living to share his intelligence with people, as long as he is happy doing that, good.


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