Michelle: Kimby has a distant cousin, Jill, who her parents supported all throughout Jill’s college education. She treats her like a sister. They now work together in an advertising agency. Just recently, Jill teamed up with another colleague to wrestle a big account from her. Kimby is dismayed. While she thinks of Jill as her sister, she also thinks that Jill owes it to her, by way of her parents’ generosity in footing the bill for Jill’s college education, known to us Filipinos as “utang na loob” or a debt of gratitude. Kimby thinks that by taking away a big account from her, Jill is ungrateful and un-sisterly toward her.
DJ: It looks like Jill’s action was ill-chosen. I suggest for Kimby to talk this through with Jill. It might also help if she tries to understand where Jill is coming from. Is she under stress? Is she way below the target? I know it’s easier said than done. But Kimby will be more balanced and thus, have a better shot at making the most of her dialogue with Jill if she comes in wanting to understand than to be understood.
M: While I commiserate with Kimby, people do not always act according to our expectations. Even if Jill is a beneficiary of her parents’ help, maybe Jill does not think that the obligation to appropriately repay the favor done to her extends to Kimby. By talking over her issues directly with Jill, Kimby can avoid further resentments and maybe understand Jill’s actions.
DJ: Gratitude will have a hard time surviving in a world that often feels entitled to what it receives, particularly when relationships are also viewed as disposable. People who are ungrateful think every blessing is deserved. I know it’s not easy for Kimby to be the better person. However, we also know that gratitude is essential for happiness. Anyone who has little to nothing to be thankful for must be heavy in funk. If Jill indeed tuned out years of benevolence shown her way, it’s likely that she’s unhappy inside. Hard as it is but I suggest for Kimby to look at her situation with forbearance and concern.
M: Each person has something to prove not just to others but more so to himself or herself. I cannot fault Jill for working hard or trying her best to get that big advertising account but I feel that what she did to Kimby was not very appropriate. Why team up with another colleague when she can team up with Kimby and share that big account with her? I do not want to speculate on Jill’s reasons for doing what she did. Kimby has to ask her and try to understand what happened. In all these things though, it will be good to remember that money should not take precedence over one’s relationships. You can always earn that money or even more but you cannot always retain or repair a broken relationship caused by love for money.
DJ: Life and everything in it are gifts to be grateful for, not rights to be claimed. No one is self-sufficient. We need family, friends, God, the universe and yes, even the government, to live. We cannot provide everything for ourselves. We alternate between being givers and receivers, including of understanding, forgiveness and love.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2017.
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