“How can I do better?”
This question is reverberating around the world right now.
Over the past few days, I have seen a number of Black women make
pleas through their social media accounts for people to stop contacting them by
private messages to ask, “How can I help? What can I do? How can I be a better
For those who are not content creators or who are not public-facing in their work, it might come as a shock just how often boundaries get crossed online.
I don’t know what it’s like to get asked about anti-racism education, or how to support Black Lives Matter.
But I do know it’s a huge problem for tarot readers and astrologers to get contacted by people requesting free readings, feedback on their natal charts or tarot spreads, or advice on whether an ex is returning.
So I can only imagine what others deal with on a regular basis – and especially now, as so many people are seeking answers.
What I do know is that it’s a total drain to feel pulled at like this.
Unless someone has an open invitation to request free advice or free feedback, it’s highly inappropriate for people to make these demands.
I know that some might believe, “There’s no harm in asking, so why not try?” Or, “The worst that can happen is they say no.”
But here’s the thing: Sometimes, there is harm in asking.
And now is a great time to start learning that.
Why? Because it creates more work for the person on the receiving end of those messages.
Even if they decide not to respond, they still need to sort through those messages and choose what to do with them.
It’s also disrespectful. It says, “Your work, time, and labour are not that valuable to me.”
This practice of pulling at people for more: More information, more support, more advice has to change.
No matter what the context, no matter what the request, or the community it’s happening in, boundaries are getting crossed and resentments are building.
Work of any kind can’t be sustained without a fair exchange. That doesn’t just include money. It includes respect, too.
Here are some ways to do good in the world right now:
– There are so many free resources out there these days that can help you learn about anything you want – including anti-racism.
– Don’t demand someone else’s time or attention so that you can become a better person. Pay your way: Buy someone’s book, take one of their workshops, or make a donation to an organization.
– Don’t be “that” customer – you know, the one who does buy something and then believes it gives them a free pass to ask for more at no cost.
Did you get value from that book or workshop you took? Cool. Continue to support that person’s work by buying more. Pay your way every time.
– Posting on social media is not enough on its own. There is a whole world outside of our computer screens. Real growth and change takes time, and can’t always be captured in a status update.
– Remember that we are still in a pandemic. People are stretched thin in so many ways. When you place an unnecessary demand on someone’s time, you have no idea what else they may be dealing with right then. Be compassionate, patient, and generous, and self-sufficient.
– Listen. Really listen to what’s needed, and what’s being asked of you. So often we react, even with good intentions, but without thinking of whether an action will land on the right result.
– Say thank you. When someone does share a helpful message, or respond to you on their own free time, show your gratitude. I Saying thank you is such a simple thing to do, and can go such a long way.
– Think of respect as a spiritual practice. The more we listen and learn, rather than challenge, question, and force each other to give in or compromise a boundary, the healthier our communities can become.
Stay well and talk soon.
Until next time,