Instrumental Interaction

I was out to the vendor last week to buy paper, I realized I had only currency note. The vendor could not make change for me, so he smiled widely and said,”Don’t worry, you’ll pay tomorrow.” But I tensed up and nodded in disagreement. I insisted on paying for the paper, so I went into a store and bought something I did not need so I could make change. I handed the vendor the small note I got as change from the store to pay for my paper.

In that instant, the dynamic of our relationship changed. The vendor reluctantly took my money and drew back in sadness. “I did the wrong thing,” I later said to myself. “I didn’t accept his kindness. He wanted to do something meaningful, but I treated it as a transaction.” Good intention right? Yes, but wrong timing.

This experience made me realize something quite genuine. Many of us are caught up in our own lives and preoccupied with our own activities so much that we acknowledge the people we are interacting with as only instrumental – a means to an end. The world has so advanced into a toxic state where things are only believed to be transactional – a give and take circle. Instrumental treatment is now commonly seen as the best way to wade through a world laden with broken emotions & intentions.

This toxic character isn’t even solving the problem it is expected to overcome. This is because instrumental or transactional treatment more often than not is associated with negative outcomes for individual relationships and even organizational/business relationships.

Studies have shown that treating people as instruments would often lead them to self-objectify, that is, to perceive themselves as objects rather than human beings. This would result in them being less engaged in a relationship, a given task or a conversation thus undermining their mental health and performance in the case of organizational relationships.

The surreal thing about this instrumental/transactional treatment is that according to psychological researches, 9 in 10 people have been a victim one way or the other. While the experience is more dominant in some than another, one thing that is certain is that such experience made us broken and our self-esteem bruised. You’d agree with me that for our self-esteem to be intact, there has to be a sense of self-worth, however when our worth is being reduced to a transaction just like the newspaper vendor I mentioned earlier, the implication is a soul hunting for revenge or looking for the next available person to empty such frustrations on. Ever wondered why we have a lot of broken heart walking around, this right here is a factor.

In conclusion, it is important to note that using people or engaging people as transactions and objects is an exploitative character. Find a way to get help if you have these traits no matter how little. And if you are at the receiving end of this toxic behaviour, it is time to understand that those you thought loved you only needed you, they only loved you as much as they can use you. Their loyalty ends where the benefits stops.

If you find yourself in situations as uncomfortable as this, this is what you should do; “Uphold your dignity by walking away from people who are into themselves so much that they forget you have a life to live, dreams to pursue and destiny to fulfill. They only remember you when they need you do or be something for them. Be mindful of your own feelings.”

Live, Act and Write

Rather than give up on the world, we can confront it directly and with passion, and create for ourselves a meaning out of the pain, loss, and struggles that we endure everyday.

I mentioned in my write up sometime ago that what motivates you today gives you the currency to purchase what you will be tomorrow. Today’s advantages must be used to buy tomorrow’s opportunities. Every person is motivated by something in particular. When you know what motivates you, life becomes an exciting adventure. You are driven by your passion and you have a reason for getting out of bed in the morning. This kind of energy is natural and essential for personal success.

“The only certainty is that we are here, in this moment, in this now. It’s up to us: to live fully, experiencing each moment, aware, alert and attentive. We are here, each one of us, to write our own story—and what fascinating stories we make!”

Dave Chappelle once said; “The hardest thing to do is to be true to yourself, especially when everybody is watching.” This is a recessive truth because fear of being looked down on or rejected makes quite a number of people live on the terms of others, hence not living the life purpose.

The reason most of us can’t be ourselves in the face of the world is that deep down we are not really sure who we really are. We’ve spent too much of our life shifting ourselves to match what others want. However, they’re few exceptions of individuals who are doing great having stopped living on the terms and expectations of people around them. Example of such is Matthew Berry

Matthew Berry is a Hollywood screenwriter turned Fantasy TV presenter. For someone who has been writing for sitcoms and movies to decide to make a career out of his fantasy sports obsession, it was more than a dream come true and a perfect example of living on one’s own term.

In his New York Times Bestseller, Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It”, Berry noted that he was 35 years old and miserable and the only thing that made me happy was this dumb little fantasy sports website that I had started on the side.

In 2005, Berry went after his passion: fantasy sports. Appearances on radio and TV for ESPN and the NBA landed him in a meeting with ESPN vice president John Kosner. Berry persuaded Kosner to let him turn his hobby into a full-time job. Now, Berry is ESPN’s top fantasy sports analyst, spending his days playing in every type of league imaginable. The dream job has led Berry to tell Sports Business Daily, “I like my salary. But I’d do it for free.

Berry’s life trajectory is a validation of passion, purpose and owning up to one’s true self regardless of the noise from the outside world.

“Being true to oneself or Living life fully” can mean different things to different people, however regardless whatever your concept of living life is, always ensure it is done for your own sake because when the chips are down, it is your life.