I spoke to a woman in therapy who is annoyed with her mother. She says her mother volunteers to do things for her church group, such as prepare a meal or drive someone to the doctor's. Then her mother complains about everything she does for others and that they don't appreciate it.
I asked the woman why she thought her mother complained about being a good Samaritan
"Because she wants a pat on the back for everything she does," she said. But, she added, "I don't want to give her a pat on the back. Instead I'd like to slap her for her complaining."
I told the woman I thought a slap was a bit drastic, to which she agreed.
It is a curious thing, however, that people volunteer to take care of others or jump in and take responsibility and then become irritated because they have so much to do. Or they feel mistreated because they don't get the recognition they think they deserve.
This phenomenon is especially prevalent at Christmastime. A woman shops like mad for her family and all her relatives. Although shopping is work, she mostly enjoys the hustle and bustle of the season. Each time she picks out a present, she gives herself a pat on the back: "What a good gift-giver am I."
Sometimes she shows off her purchases to relatives and friends. But if the people she has shopped for are not as grateful as she thinks they should be, she's miffed.
Now she moves into a victim mode and gets to fret and criticize and think, "After all I do for them." In some ways she is double-dipping. She gets to enjoy herself while shopping and give herself strokes for being a good person. Then she allows herself to complain about how she's being taken for granted. If she fusses loud enough, perhaps a few more nods of recognition will come her way.
If this scenario sounds familiar, decide that your reward is the pleasure you derive from shopping, giving and focusing on others. Decide, too, that you won't grumble if people aren't as appreciative as your efforts deserve. Remember the enjoyment you receive when in the act of doing for others. Don't attach a string!
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,“ and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: http://www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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