Sometimes being a nice person doesn’t get you loved. It gets you used. Or does it?
We have all felt used over the course of time. It is part of life whether we like it or not.
We extend ourselves to others in ways that we expect will generate appreciation and reciprocity, only to discover that our expectations are unfounded and the other party is not even remotely as appreciative as we might have hoped.
Who is wrong in that situation?
In my life experience, I have to be honest and say that both parties are wrong.
Let’s start with expectations… Going out of your way to be nice…. What does that even mean? At face value, “going out of your way” means that you are doing something that you would not normally do in the course of a normal schedule or routine. So, by inference, that means we have extended our time on behalf of this effort. Large or small, the effort is the effort… and in our mind, we feel that we have delivered something of value to the other party. In the deliverance of that value, we are expecting an acknowledgment. Our expectation is that upon our having been kind, courteous, considerate, chivalrous or any other adjective of your choosing, we should be rewarded with a minimum of a thank you, and a maximum of anything above and beyond that.
Right there is the fault that lies on our doorstep, not the other party. To do something kind for another person is part of what makes us rich in life. Richness is not constructed of cash or material items, but rather, from the continuous expression of whom we truly are as people. We are not taking our wealth to the afterlife. We are only leaving that feeling that we created in others for them to remember us. My father is 21 years into the afterlife and in an instant I can remember how it would make me feel walking down the street with him prior to starting my work day and chatting about life, love, fears and triumphs. I can hear his words of praise and his words of caution. I can feel him in my inner being with zero effort. He is always just there. And I adore him for that and always will.
So to be a nice person and to extend ourselves to others is a personal gain. It has zero to do with their acknowledgement or appreciation. Take the model where you donate to a reputable cause to help improve the lives of an endangered specie, like an elephant subject to ivory poachers, so that they may continue to thrive. Those elephants whose tusks you are saving, and by inference, their lives, will never respond to you. You will only have that feeling in your heart that you are who you are and that they are having a better go of it because of your contribution. So why then does it matter so much if a kindness extended to another human being is not reciprocated with warmth, gratitude and appreciation?
The answer, my friend, is because you are accustomed to that response. It makes you feel good. So if you go the extra distance to be supportive of another, just because they are proximal to you or able to communicate with you from wherever on Earth they happen to be, you are attaching a need for their response to validate your kindness. The elephant did not respond and you are ok with that. So when a person does not respond, we feel cheated and by extension, used.
This is not to say that other people will not use you. For certain they will. It is human nature. But the two are not inextricably intertwined. If you are kind and you are generous of monetary, emotional or other kindnesses, that makes you a special human being. Their reaction to your kindness is truly immaterial. Their reaction does not make you any better of a person, nor should it. A kindness should be extended because it is the right thing to do.
When people leverage your kindness and do something that is contrary to what you would expect and leave you feeling used, it is most wise to see that as that other person’s shortcoming. Perhaps they are not as evolved as you would have hoped, and as a result you are left feeling abused and hurt. Those are natural feelings and we all feel them. But I believe the secret to this conundrum is to recognize that everyone is so different that to expect any one person to behave exactly as you may presume, is most likely a hollow chamber in which your echoes of disappointment will resonate with zero value.
We are also inclined to interpret the behaviors of others through our own life filters. We see others and presume that they see the world the same as we. But if you watch the world at large, it is obvious that this could not be further from the truth. In reality, with billions of people on this planet, the odds that any of them see the world exactly the same as you, are overwhelming stacked against you.
If I told you I am above feeling used in these situations, I would be lying. We all have our Pavlovian responses programmed into our being. If you get someone a gift, and they open it, you are hoping to see joy on their face. But when your gift is a fruitcake at Christmas and they wanted a gift certificate to Playstation, you are not going to see that jubilant response you are craving.
So my final point is this…. If you are determined to be a nice person (which I believe you should be), then learn to extend your kindness for your own benefit. Not for the response. You can tell the funniest joke to the wrong person and their response will be flat. It does not make that joke any less funny, nor does it make your delivery flat. It means it was a wrong joke for that person. If you are a kind human being, you are populating your karmic bank with capital that will unquestionably return to reward you in unforeseen ways. If the party to whom you are going out of your way to be kind responds as you might have hoped, then that is strictly a bonus. But if you do the kindness, solely for the expected response, you are setting yourself up for a disappointment, and sadly, whether you like it or not, that one is on you.
Drop the expectation, and just be kind for kindness sake.
You will be happier if you learn to do this, and your kindness might actually be appreciated by the other party far more than you might imagine… it may just be that they are not adept at showing it.