I love helping others. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was little. My dad has always been very servile, and I guess I took it from him.
However, I’ve realized that every few years I enter what I call a total recall stage. When in this phase I look back at what I’ve done and how I’ve helped. I inevitably bring the scale out and measure all. I hate it when this happens because I don’t like judging. I don’t like putting a price or value to my actions. I love helping others because it makes them happy, not because I’m looking for something in exchange.
The first time this happened I took an extended four-month sabbatical to rethink my path. The outcome was a beautiful new mindful perspective on compassion and helping others. Those insights are still with me today. Thankfully.
Things aren’t that bad now, but recent events made me look back and try to understand why I sometimes feel so discouraged with certain people.
I’ve had a string of dealings, both personal and professional, that have ended up nowhere. I’ve invested time, effort, assets and wisdom in helping people. The return has been meager. Some people expected me to help. They took it as a given. Others seduced me with their Sirens’ voice promising riches. I never heard from them again after they took my work and passed it as theirs. A third group decided that they loved my work but didn’t want to pay for it.
As Mr. E. Meyer once said [on buying a house], “When it’s where you want to live, don’t bargain.” When you find value, you don’t bargain; you pay for it.
Then there is the last type. People that only reach out when they’re in need of personal assurance. More than once I’ve thought I should have started a psychiatric clinic. I would have been the next Freud.
There is nothing wrong with all these people. I helped because I wanted to. I helped because I enjoyed it. I find it moral to help others. It’s the right thing to do. Something I derive immense joy from.
But when every single action you do is met with derision, anger, arrogance or an uncanny demand of your time and mind, I think it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.
Years ago I would have expected something in return for my aid. It wasn’t conscious, but the thought was there, lingering like dust. Nowadays I know better. I don’t expect anything in return. That includes arrogant comments, crazy expectations or unmet promises. Sometimes, it’s better to don’t say anything.
I will eventually reach a point where I don’t care. Being honest, I’m not there yet. But what I’ve learned is that, when ungrateful people surround you, maybe it’s time to move on and find people that do care. People that appreciate your time and help.
So it’s time for me to look closely at what I devote my time, mind and efforts to. I will still put myself out there, but I will guard myself better.
For the record, I’m not the only one that’s feeling like this. I keep talking with friends of mine going through the same. It seems that it’s becoming the norm to ask for things and then be an ass about it. The sad aspect of this is that it pushes valuable, wise and wonderful people into social exile.
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust