“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
It is often said that there’s no such thing as a selfless act—that any time we do something to help another person, we get something in return. It might not be much. Maybe it’ll just be a warm fuzzy feeling. Or a token of appreciation. But there’s always something.
I know you get that good feels when you help someone else. To me, it is a completely acceptable type of selfishness. What gives me cause for concern are the “little” expectations we often have when we give “selflessly.”
We’ve all been there. You cover for your friend because you know they’ll cover for you. You give your brother 50 ₹, and then keep reminding him of it every time you need a work to be done by him. You help your friend, and then feel bad when she isn’t as supportive as you were. There are tons of examples.
These expectations cause more stress than happiness. They lead to disappointment if the person you helped doesn’t return the kindness, sometimes places a wedge in your relationships; makes you feel incredibly guilty about expecting something in return.
Ask your self ‘What do you expect in return of this?’ If the answer is happiness, do it! Otherwise, don’t even think about it.
I’ve made a list of things you can do to show you care and that you are thoughtful, without wanting the receiver to return the kindness. Ways where giving is its own reward. (Although I’ve written you, these are things I try.)
1) Let someone tell you a story- without feeling the need to interrupt them, one-up them or tell your own
2) Let someone vent- even if you can’t offer a solution, just lend them your ears and your support.
3) Help someone who is struggling with difficult feelings- by admitting you’ve felt the same way and giving advices to cope with them.
4) Tell someone how they make you feel-even if it makes you feel vulnerable; just to let them know they’re loved and not alone.
5) Hold someone’s hand when they feel vulnerable- to let them know you haven’t abandoned them.
6) Give your undivided attention to the person in front of you- even when you’re tempted to let your thoughts wander; just to show them their words are valuable to you.
7) Accompany someone to an appointment that they’re stressed about or drive them to an interview- when they need support just to help them feel strong.
8) Leave a thoughtful comment on someone’s blog- not to increase your views but rather to show them how their blog affected you and made you feel
9) Tell someone you believe in them- even if they haven’t always shown you the same support.
10) Tell someone that you know they meant well- instead of using their mistake as an opportunity to make them feel guilty.
None of us is always kind. Human nature dictates, we always give with one eye on what we receive. And it’s okay as long as we put a conscious effort in doing something for someone just for the sake of doing it; without expectations.
Not expecting doesn’t mean you’re giving other people permission to treat you thoughtlessly. It means you’re checking your motivations and giving because you want to, and then asking for things directly when you need them. People who care about you will be there for you.
What would you do just to show that you care?