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Doing good to others: what to expect

You finally did something good to another person, you spent time, energy, perhaps money to do something special, something nice, something good. Or at least you thought so. Yet the other person is ungrateful, they don't seem to notice, they don't praise you as much as you expected. Or worse - they've turned against you. This leaves you wondering why. You're close to losing your sleep and becoming bitter.

First and foremost, stop worrying. There may be a variety of reasons why the other person behaves the way they behave:

  • People have their own motivation which we may never understand.

  • Things change: people’s attitudes, mindsets, needs and circumstances change.

  • Sometimes people don’t see our ‘good deed’ as really good for them. Perhaps they had different expectations or perhaps they have very different values.

  • Whatever else.

The more important question is though:

How do YOU deal with this?

1. Accept that life doesn’t stand still, people change

I know it’s a cliche and many people will say they know this, yet do we really accept this? We often want to control life and the people in our life. We want to keep the status quo, BECAUSE WE FEEL COMFORTABLE. Well, this is a self-centered and selfish approach. And naive. We can’t stop change. We can't stop life from changing.

2. Accept that people have free will

This means that others can make choices that we disagree with. And yes, others can make a choice to be ungrateful even after we’ve done good things for them. How many of us are truly prepared to accept this? People have free will and sometimes they make a choice to do bad things. Just because. Full stop. Nothing to do with us.

3. Remember - it’s not personal

Directly related to point 2 above. Often others don’t even think about us. But even if their behaviour seems to be very personal, it still isn’t really. Why? Because when they choose to do and say bad things, they obviously act selfishly.

So it’s not personal because they don’t really see us a person, a human being. Because they’re totally focused on themselves. Selfish. So why do we expect a selfish person to have consideration for others? It’s an illogical and unrealistic expectation.

4. Don’t get stuck with bad people

Question and challenge their behaviour by all means, but don’t spend too much time worrying about why they behave the way they do, why they say things, why this, why that, why they’re bad and why life is unfair.

Why? Exactly because it’s their choice and realistically there’s not much we can do about it apart from bitching around, complaining and feeling miserable. So unless you love self-inflicted pain, just move on with your life even if it means paying less attention to what other people say.

5. Stop expecting payoff in return for your good deeds

It’s not some sort of bargain. If you have the energy, love, compassion, selflessness to do good to someone - then do it. Do exactly as much as you feel you can share without feeling regret, exhaustion and a feeling that you’re taken advantage of.

Don’t force yourself into doing good things, don’t do it in order to receive something back, don’t do it to build a reputation of a decent helpful person. Who are you trying to trick, after all? Yourself? And others don’t care anyway, they won’t even notice.


To sum it up, people have the right to act and change, however they like. It’s their choice and they’re responsible for the consequences. Yet, we have the right to disagree with their choice and dislike their choice. Yet we don’t have the right to force people to change their choices. If we believe that their choices affect us negatively and there’s no way we can agree on things, then we just move on with our life without getting anxious, depressed and bitter about it. Well, perhaps a bit bitter, but definitely not for long.

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