When will altruistic people realize that their altruism makes people see them as weak, foolish, &
causes them to always end up last? What makes altruists even being disdained by their own family members? Will altruists learn to say no & mean it?
As someone who considers herself altruistic, I can and do say "no" when I see the issue as an important one for one reason or another. Whether it's me or someone I've known who is similar to me, not saying "no" is often a matter of choosing to do the grown-up and right thing to do, rather than being so insecure about who thinks what about me (us) that I'll "let someone rot" just so that nobody thinks I'm weak. Grown-ups a) understand that sometimes someone else may an inconvenience, but b) not doing the grown-up thing (and doing something for someone) is either not being a grown-up or else is having a twisted and misguided view of the character of others.
My "theory" about "the disdainers" is that they either didn't have the kind of mother/father who knew enough to help them sort out this kind of stuff (and instead listened to people who impressed them), or maybe because they "left the nest" too soon and their mother/father didn't have the chance to finish up on the "finer points" of being a person/socialization, etc. (like the difference between choosing to be inconvenienced by someone because it's what WE choose and see as "right", or instead being too stupid or weak to know how to say "no".)
I think many people of my generation in particular looked to things like self-help/attitude books because they figured that's where the most solid "how to be happy"/what's a healthy relationship" ideas are; but if you have the person who didn't have the parent to share what needed to be shared before that person left the nest at, say, eighteen; by the time that person gets to those self-help books (and their pals) to sort out "how to live" or "how to be", there's a whole lot missing that he didn't learn about how to interpret/understand people in their own relationships.
So, they bring an immature and inaccurate perspective into adulthood and use that as a "baseline" to which they then apply whatever else they try to figure out about being a young adult.
The person who is secure and faced with the choice to do something for someone else may know from the start how much he will/can do how often, or for how long. Based on that that person will choose to help, knowing there may come a time when he cannot or chooses not to.
The person who strong and secure doesn't worry about whether he (often she) appears weak to people who don't know any better. Other strong, secure, caring, people do.
Oh, GM, you're starting to sound like my not so dearly departed mother, who used to berate me for dropping money into the red kettles at Christmas while I was still a starving student. She used to say things like, "Who do you think you are, little Miss Rich Bitch?", and I'd reply with, "I know I have a roof over my head tonight, and food to eat, so I'm giving a few cents from the bottom of my purse to ensure someone else does, too."
If you believe that altruism makes one weak, I suppose I have to ask how. Weak as a person? I think it makes me a better person, to think of others. Weak as a member of society? At a time when the "I've got mine, so the hell with all the rest of you" attitude seems to prevail in certain sectors of our society, who else looks out for those who have nothing? Who else will look outside themselves, to see the people around them, and ask, "What can I do to help?"
And how can asking what I can do to help others ever be a bad thing? How can giving a little time, or a few dollars, to help those with less, ever fail to raise us all up?
My friend, I say no to a lot of things, but I will never say no to being aware and involved in making things better for those who have less, or need help. And I will never, ever believe that it causes me to end up last, because at the end of the day, our society is about people, not dollars.
You know, if people want to see me as weak or foolish because I want to help others then that's fine. I see myself as compassionate and empathetic, and that's all that matters. I feel good about the choices I make and I know that I've done what I can to have a positive impact on other people's lives. The minute I change who I am because of what other people think of me is the minute I truly do become weak and foolish.
My family most definitely has no disdain for me, in fact I think they're all quite proud of the person I have become.
As for saying "no" and meaning it, altruism isn't about being a doormat. Altruism is about valuing others as you value yourself. I always ask myself "am I doing this because I feel pressured into it or am I doing this because I feel it's important?" If it's not something that I think is truly going to help someone then I have no problem saying no.
Altruism has actually saved a lot of people - the helpers as well as the helped. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel made the wise choice to deal with his monumental PTSD by dedicating his life to doing all he can to prevent future holocausts, to Jews and everyone else. He is a highly respected professor at Boston University, has his own Foundation for Humanity, serves as a presidential advisor, and received the Nobel Peace Price in 1986. Bernie Madoff wiped out his funds, but he is able to continue his work through donations from a variety of unlikely sources.
By the way, being too weak to say no to obvious users is not altruism.
Yes,, there are altruistic people who ALWAYS put others FIRST. They have no concept of self. They GIVE, GIVE, GIVE & always pulling THEIR weight while others......DON'T!
That is not altruism; that is foolishness. No one has inexhaustible supplies; a wise, truly altruistic person knows that. Elie Wiesel said he will never forgive Bernie Madoff.
Exactly, however, there are altruistic people who GIVE, GIVE, GIVE & wonder why people disrespect them.Also, the same people adopt passive-aggressive ways because they are taken advantage of.They refuse to set boundaries. They won't/can't say NO!
I believe most people are selective when it comes to helping people including their own family members. Aside from some folks' parents I don't know many people who would put themselves at risk for hardship to bail someone else out.
Generally speaking people only give away what they feel they can do without. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet give away millions of dollars every year around the world but it doesn't change their living standards. They can afford to give without impact/hardship.
It's the people who have little that are at risk of overextending themselves. You help one cause and then they sell your name to other charitable organizations. I'm sure there are tons of worthwhile causes! However charity does begin at home!
Only conmen, family members, and so called friends that take advantage of people might view altruistic people as suckers.
I have no choice but to respond as a mother. I am 1st, foremost & every ounce of my being, a mother. All the other many hats I wear, or have worn, fall into place somewhere~but NEVER before my maternal existence.
Having said this Grace, I took the time to find 2 literal definitions of "altruistic/ism." I want to be specific. I'm fairly sure I leaned toward altruism during my early years, 1.) it's my basic nature & 2.) I was raised by a family & extended family who were all this way. I suppose I had my moments of selfishness & thinking only of myself, since that's part & parcel of our human nature.
I can tell you in all truthfulness and sincerity, from the moment I conceived my first child, I immediately & permanently ceased to be No. 1. I didn't make a conscious decision. It just was. I discovered WHO I was & what my purpose was from that moment on.
Never once in 48 years have I faltered, struggled w/ this nor had an ounce of doubt or regret. My only selfish "choice" was & is that my sons are my entire life. Now, all these years later, they've added their beautiful wives & precious children to my list of reasons for living.
Nothing, no one, no way, no how...comes before them. They ARE my life. I am utterly positive I am not in any way, seen as "weak or foolish," but quite the contrary. To be sure though Grace, I haven't any concern as to how I'm "seen" by another living soul except my loves & myself. My "choice" not only did NOT cause me to "end up last," but I'm a winner in so many ways. Don't yawn yet, I'm not done.
I had my own life, very fulfilling w/ all I ever wanted. I had a successful career, friends and much fun. I did all of it for THEM, which in turn made me gloriously happy, which in turn allowed me to feel very successful. I've had more than my share of knocks & fall-downs, but such is life. We pick up & go on.
I had 4 of the most amazing sons who have become, not surprisingly, loving husbands, stellar Dads and quite successful. Yes 4 sons, Grace, which I know to you is a LARGE family. I made sure they had the best of all I could provide: love, attention, support, education, encouragement & a happy home~& I know you'll like this~ the older ones did not ever have to raise their younger brothers, nor did the gov't ever provide for us. They are thoughtful, considerate and respectful sons. I am B L ES S E D. I never forced myself to say, "No" unless absolutely necessary. Looks like there's no need for me start now!...Peace, Paula
You have made EXCELLENT points which I agree with. BTW, 4 children aren't a large family at all. I was thinking of how kind people have to always rescue those who NEVER pull their weight e.g. adult siblings & other extended relatives.
You are awesome Paula, I admire this. My sons and husband see me as a cornerstone in my family, the rock and it is in no way weakness to put our children ahead of ourselves. Many of us do it and still find personal fulfillment as well.
Christin...LOL thanks. after half a century, we become the literal translations of altruism. The line of "Before Me" has GROWN, plus my charity & volunteer work. One of these days, I'm getting a haircut & a pedicure! I'm a mess! U're awesom
Paula has GREAT words of wisdom. She is beyond awesome. So are you, ChristinS!
One can be generous, kind and compassionate without being a doormat. I assure you, I am no one's doormat, yet I am kind to those who need it and I want to ensure that others have some of the many blessings I have. I have no use for selfish people who put themselves so far ahead of everyone they spend their times looking down their noses on people they feel are "beneath" them. If that makes me "weak" in the eyes of selfish people so be it. I can't say I give two hoots what a selfish, arrogant person would think.
My biological father was a psychopath, a true criminal with no regard for anyone. Knowing that is what I came from made me push harder to be a decent human being with compassion for others. I'm proud of who I am and I'll continue on my altruistic path all my life - because I am not the only one on this planet who matters.
Some people do take selflessness too far and become "martyrs" but the vast majority of generous and kind people are not that, they are genuinely kind people.
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