Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Why Saying ‘Please’ And ‘Thank You’ Matters

We live in a world where our sense of self-worth is constantly under attack. That’s why so many popular self-help practices and life philosophies encourage us to focus on what we can control and accept what we can’t. 

Perhaps if we teach ourselves to not care as much about other people’s opinions, we won’t be hurt so easily. A sensible attitude. But it’s not so different from that of a child’s who’s been tricked into eating a pepper that’s hotter than he’d imagined.

He might claim he’s fine, but his red cheeks and sweat on his brow say otherwise.

Trying to thicken our skins against insults and criticisms is a worthwhile endeavour. But the reality is that no matter how hard we try, we all remain incredibly sensitive creatures who consistently doubt our own value.

For example.

If it was so easy to shrug off rejection, we wouldn’t have any hesitations about asking for a raise, attracting new mates, or telling a story to all the guests at a dinner party. But the fact is, we do hesitate in these situations because we’re often unsure of whether or not we’re good enough.

That’s why we need kindness and compassion so dearly. We’re stuck crossing a tightrope that’s hanging over a chasm of wretchedness.

One good shove and we’re down in the dumps.

Stoicism, mindfulness and the art of not giving a fuck all help us stand more firmly in the face of adversity. But it does nothing to get rid of our existential terrors. Our fears of wasting our lives, our worries of being unworthy of love and forgiveness, and our panic about whether anything we do makes a lick of difference.

To keep going, we need to feel that we matter. No amount of meditation and self-care can make up for a lack of human kindness. 

That’s the real reason why we listen attentively to the boring story of a stranger, offer someone our seat on the bus, send birthday cards, assist an elderly person with their groceries, wish the sick a speedy recovery, and pay for the coffee for the person behind us in line. 

It makes them feel valued. And, hopefully, it gives them the courage to venture on, rather than succumb to the gloom of everyday existence.

We don’t just say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ because our teachers and caretakers taught us to. We show manners because we know it has the power to save someone from misery. 

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach