“Just as much as we see in others we have in ourselves.”
Ever get irritated by someone acting out to get attention? Ever get annoyed when an acquaintance is arrogant? Ever feel prickly around a person who is being generous to show how righteous they are? Ever become infuriated with a government official for wasteful spending?
It may very well be that you aren’t really angry at that person. You may be angry at yourself.
We all have a ranking system of personal behaviors – from noble to obscene. I’ll venture a guess that we all think about every behavior on that scale, associating ourself with the noble behaviors and distancing ourselves from the obscene. Further, I’ll guess that from time to time we act (or have acted) in ways that we find offensive. And we don’t like it one bit.
If we don’t like in ourselves, we most certainly don’t like it in others. The more offensive the behavior to us, the more offensive it is when we see it. What we may be seeing is a reflection of ourselves.
What does this have to do with the theme of this blog – giving time?
When we give time there is a part of us that struggles with the thought that maybe we’re being generous only because we earn appreciation, recognition, attention, and self-gratitude. That is in direct conflict with the genuine desire to help other people.
Therefore, when we see someone else being generous and giving, there’s probably a part of us that is repelled by that. “She’s showing off!” “He’s hypocritical.” “She’s self-righteous!” “He’s hiding something!”
I struggled with that as I cleaned the laundry room tonight. I projected several voices in my head as I cleaned, each asking. “Who was I cleaning for?” My wife? Myself? My project?
It was probably all three. Those are normal thoughts and there’s nothing arrogant about trying to help others. Many of my fellow kindness bloggers have struggled with this paradox and essentially answered the question by saying that being kind is both for themselves as well as others.
It’s a tough question, and I certainly don’t have the answer. But here are two things I do know,
- If you are uncomfortable with someone else being generous, kind or serving other people, it’s possible you’re just uncomfortable with that part of yourself.
- Everyday that you deliberately and intentionally help another person is a day that you think less about yourself, and more about other people – and that changes you. Dramatically.
Those ideas aren’t original, but I can attest to their authenticity from my giving time project.
The other thing I can attest to? We have a clean laundry room.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Cleaned the laundry room, and even folded the socks in the sock basket so my wife wouldn’t have to. Or, did I do it so I’d get recognition? Or, so I’d have more clean socks?
Special thanks to my friend Daljit who shared this idea with me today.