Saturday, December 3, 2011


"Be Prepared For Complaints"
~From Kindness: Making a Difference in People's Lives
- Formulas, Stories, and Insights

One of my students told me:

"I can't believe it. Before I was devoted to helping others, very few people had complaints against me. It seems that the more I do for others, the more that people are upset with me. Those I help, complain, 'Why aren't you doing more?' Those I am unable to help complain, 'How come you help other people and not me?' Those who are angry with me for various reasons tell me, 'You feel that just because you help people you don't have to live up to other obligations.'"

When you devote your life to helping others, you are likely to arouse envy, animosity, and resentment. The needs of the people you help can be so great that they will be angry you aren't helping them even more than you are. Your energy, time, and other resources are limited, so those you don't help might feel resentful that you do more for others than you do for them.

Some people will be envious of the good you do. In order to feel better about themselves, they will find it easier to put you down than to do more themselves. They are likely to challenge your motivations when they say things like:

o "He only helps others because of his overblown ego."
o "She only helps those whom she feels will help her."
o "He wants to get ahead politically so he does favors for others."
o "She only does kindnesses because she's compensating for feelings of inferiority."

Even if it isn't true, cynical or envious people are likely to make these claims. Someone with mixed motives — he wants to help others and he does enjoy honor — is likely to feel more hurt about this than someone whose motivations are pure. But anyone who has a sensitive nature can feel hurt.

Being criticized is part of the price one pays for helping others. This elevates you: You are willing to personally suffer in order to do acts of kindness for others. Acknowledge the truth of a complaint and it will be easier to tolerate.

o "Yes. I should do a lot more than I am doing. I'm sorry that I'm limited."
o "I agree that I'm only doing a drop in the bucket of what is needed."
o "I acknowledge it would be wonderful if I were doing more than I am."
o "Yes. I am inconsistent. But I feel it's better to continue doing the good that I'm doing than to consistently do nothing for others."

One of my students explained: "I remember how shocked I was when someone whom I've helped greatly told me off in great anger, 'You aren't there for me enough when I really need you. O.K., so you did help me before but what about lately!'

"After this I heard about being prepared for such occurrences. The next time someone I had helped attacked me for not doing enough for them, I was mentally ready to answer with true compassion, 'I'm sorry for not being there when you needed me. I see how much you've suffered. It's really rough.'

"The amazing thing is that when I said this with sincere concern, the person's anger subsided and I received an apology. My response was, 'That's all right. I understand the pressure you were under.' We parted with good feelings.

KINDNESS & GIVING:  "Ten Don'ts"

[1]  DON'T be obsessed with the people you can't help.
Focus on the people you can. You are a mortal. You, like everyone else, are limited. Obsessing about what you can't do prevents you from thinking about things you can do.

[2]  DON'T let the lack of kindness and giving of others influence you to stop helping and giving.
Some people feel resentful, "Other people aren't helping. Why should I?" We learn from role models. Learn from those who are kind, not from those who aren't.

[3]  DON'T keep trying to help someone who truly doesn't want your help.
Some people are very independent. They could gain from accepting your help. But their need to be on their own is stronger than their wish for your help. Be aware that some people really want your help but are embarrassed about it. If you feel that is the situation, try to say things to put the person at ease.

[4]  DON'T give up too soon.
Some people might think that you really won't be able to help them so they initially tell you not to bother. If you don't give up, both you and the other person will see that he will gain much more than he thought.

[5] DON'T complain that other people keep asking you to do things for them.
If others come to you for help, it's an expression that they believe you are a kind person. You might not be able to meet other people's needs right now, but by being aware of their needs, you might think of a creative solution.

[6]  DON'T tell anyone, "I had to go without this for a long time. So you also can go without it."
Other people have a right to something even if you didn't always have it. If you don't want to help someone, just say a polite, "No."

[7] DON'T be hurt if a selfish person complains that you are selfish.
Some selfish people try to manipulate giving people by telling them they are selfish. Perhaps you are being selfish. Then again, perhaps not. You might want to ask objective outsiders for their opinion.

[8]  DON'T be na├»ve. Don't believe every story you hear.
If a story seems questionable, check it out. If you have good reason to believe that someone is lying to you, perhaps he is. But be very careful. Someone's sad story might not at first seem true, but it could very well be that it is. A person who loves kindness would rather err on the possibility of helping someone who doesn't need it rather than not helping someone who does.

[9]  DON'T say things that might cause someone to feel badly when you help him.
Some people might say things such as, "This is so difficult for me to do. I don't know why I agreed to do this for you." Or, "This is the last time I'll commit myself to do this for anyone."

[10]  DON'T embarrass someone when you do something for him.
Be careful not to say or do anything in the presence of others that would cause distress to the person you are trying to help.

From the Partners in Kindness free weekly e-mail
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By Zelig Pliskin Printed with Permission of Shaar Press

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