I’ve ben taught, the mindful way, that if you choose to do something, it is your own decision, that you willingly place yourself within a space and the act of giving or doing is your choice. You also have the choice of not doing something. Regardless of whether someone asks me or not, the power of making a decision or action is mine and has nothing to do with the other person, it’s my choice. I can’t remember the last time I thought someone should thank me for doing something I chose to do for them, or especially something I chose to do without being asked. I do things for people because I want to, it makes me feel good or it feels right or it’s just what I do as me, because I love someone, my personality and being. I don’t do things expecting praise or that someone should be beholden to me or I need to tally my gives vs their give backs. I made the choice to help, do, fix, change something for someone, the operative word here is “I”, I am in control of my actions and the self satisfaction and derivation of the deed comes from me. It makes no sense to me to resent someone for an action I made unless I did not do it selflessly.
I had a very sick friend for the last year, I did a lot for his family and friends and was there for them. It took a shitload out of me, a shitload, and not till today, from something someone said to me, did I even think, did they say thank you, did I want them to? Truth is, I don’t care if they do or not, I did it for me and for my friend. Do I care if he said thank you, no, God no, everything comes around in karma and life. I did everything I did willingly and in full knowledge because I cared. Caring does not have a price tag. You build karma in life, I truly believe that, give willingly if you choose to give and with an open heart and mind.
I am a good person, I know that very well. I believe in giving and receiving openly, and if there is an issue, and you need help, I give it with no resentments. I care about people far more than things. People before objects and with no strings attached. If I place myself in a situation of resentfulness, that is my burden, not someone else’s. And if I do resent my own actions, shame on me. I am a sentient, willing being. If I made a choice for someone, regardless of whether it was for someone, it was my choice. And if I made a wrong choice, it is still my choice. And if I am in a position of resentfulness for something I chose to do, the resentfulness should be towards myself and what the motive of my actions were and it’s up to me to change my actions.
I did have a horrible feeling today because someone I cared about put their need for recognition and thankfulness for their actions towards me, freely given, as a flaw on my character. That I was not a good or giving person for not being aware that a) what was being done was for me explicitly and not for themselves at all b) that it was not freely given c) that it came with a price d) and a judgement of my character for not paying back d) not knowing the terms of barter and hence failing. My flaw for not recognizing that, to that person, giving comes with a price. It then becomes about blame and valuation of what is given, it’s no longer an act of caring, it’s about resenting what was given and placing almost a valuation that needs to be given back from the acceptor, willing, knowledgeable or not. I will never come out ahead because I don’t know what the terms of the trade are, what do I fill the cup with to make it full? Even? Thanked? What are the words? How often do you say them? Where do you write them? Do you keep score in case its forgotten?
One of my mindfulness books has a chapter that I have written here. It has taken a long time to absorb, as those of you that study mindfulness and DBT know, it takes practice and practice. But when it sticks, hallelujah, you should feel good about your person.
Simple Steps to Feeling Good About Serving
1. Know why you’re serving.
Why do you feel connected to the people or cause you’re serving? Who benefits from your serving and how? Why is this important to you?
Are you truly serving to help the other person or cause or are you serving with the expectation of recognition, appreciation, reciprocation or acceptance (that may or may not come)?
2. Give up any expectations.
Give to give. Give simply because it feels good to you.
Don’t set up expectations of how others should react to your actions. You can’t control them. They aren’t you and they won’t respond the way you would respond. Let it go.
3. Take the time to more fully understand the person or people you’re serving.
Ask them what they want. Ask them how you can help. Don’t judge. Give them what they want in the way they want it, without expectations.
4. Know where to draw the line.
You’re always teaching others how to treat you.
If you’re feeling like a martyr it’s probably because you’re acting like one and people are taking advantage of that.
Change your actions to change the outcome. Don’t wait for others to realize what they’re doing and change their ways. That will never happen.
Respect yourself. If you can’t love and respect yourself, no one else can do that for you.