I used to believe that a “good” person is defined by how he prioritizes others’ needs over his own. Sacrifice himself, being a martyr. I thought that if you aren’t suffering, you aren’t trying hard enough.
It’s quite a worldview, isn’t it?
Actually there was nothing altruistic about it. It was a thinly veiled tactic of an inner child who was starving for attention. He was saying, look at me, notice how I’m such a good boy that I give to you before I give to myself. Can you give to me as much as I give to you?
What happened was that I was always in relations where I felt like I gave and gave and received little in return. The latter part wasn’t necessarily true, but I perceived that way. Since I was giving so overwhlemingly, anyone who wasn’t willing to go the same distance was ungrateful in my eyes. I often felt betrayed and disillusioned. In the hind sight they were simple difference of expectations.
The lesson I am learning is that as an adult, that love and attention I seek can only come from within. Trying to manipulate someone into giving always ends up in frustration. My relations with others is a reflection of my relationship to self. I was a merciless slave driver, always forcing myself to give, give, give. It was force-paying forward, saying “hey, I already paid you, so now give me what I bought.” That’s not exactly generous, is it?
I’m trying to adapt a new worldview. Of having a good life, enjoying, being kind to self. I am still awkward at it. Posts like the one I made the other day, of the deep joy I felt when making music, felt rather uncomfortable.
But I made great strides and I notice changes in everything. Life is getting easier, less of a struggle. I am practicing feeling good about it.
To my relief, I find that I still enjoy giving. I didn’t turn into a selfish monster.
There are still times when I can’t help expecting something in return. But I am aware of it and I don’t hold it against the other person.
Hopefully I’m learning how to truly give, and contribute good vibes.