Monday, December 27, 2010

Giving from the heart or from the ego?

Christmas is about giving and T did a post recently about that subject that brought back a memory that made me really think. It was actually very uncomfortable for me and not just because the situation was intense and angry, but because it made me step back and question why I do things. Why I give/do things for others? Do I give/do things for selfish reasons or do I give/do things from the heart.

Situation: I went to a gym for a quick cardio work out and because I was in a slight hurry I went to a different, closer gym than I usually go to. Now if you are a frequent gym user you will get me when I say that there is a comfort in “my gym”. I am used to it, know where everything is and have a real sense of comfort there. This was not “my” gym. I do not like this particular gym and for no real reason at all. So, that has all lead up to the fact that I may have had a slight attitude walking in.

As I was walking in with my 3 year old daughter, I held the door, well actually 2 doors open for another women walking in. So she actually let me hold the door open for her twice and did not once thank me. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I was taught that people don’t have to do something for me, so when they do, you thank them. So I, being a smart ass with no sense of keeping my mouth shut and accepting other peoples up bringing, I blurt out “YOUR WELCOME”!

This didn’t go over well with her. In front of my daughter, she got right in my face and told me that if I am doing things for a thanks, that it is not coming from the heart and I am doing it for selfish reasons. She asked me if I gave any thought to what she might be going through that day. She said she was in a bad place and wasn’t thinking about anyone else and if I was doing something nice for her without selfishness, I would have seen that her mind was somewhere else and not just unthankful.

Now in the heat of the moment, I went off about how I was raised to be appreciative and to always thank someone that didn’t owe you that niceness in the first place. That I am trying to show and raise my daughter to respect others, blah, blah, blah.

Then, I walked away and nearly broke down. I thought about what might have been going on in her world at that moment. I thought about the fact that I was brought up to hold doors for others and it is now a habit. It probably doesn’t come from the heart as much any more. How many times have I been in my own mind and done something not so respectful to someone. I didn’t mean to do it. I probably didn’t even know I did it, but if someone would have called me out on it at the time, I may have gone postal or maybe broke down.

It really made me think about why I do things for others. Is it selfish, a habit, or a true heartfelt reason? I think that by me thinking about it so much has made me more aware and I have realized that most of what I do is from the heart. I am working on the rest.

This happened months ago and I think that if I saw this woman now, I would buy her a coffee or maybe... give her a hug!


  1. I have had the same thoughts for the last few months myself. I was debating whether to buy the wife anything for Christmas this year. The past few times I have bought her something (birthday, anniversary etc.) she has taken it back or thrown it in her closet never to open it or use it. I gave her a 1/2 ct diamond ring last May and it has been in the console of her car ever since the day I gave it to her. But I decided this year to get her a Christmas present because I love her even though the feelings are not mutual. What she does with it is her problem not mine.

  2. You did the right thing when you held the door open, and no matter where this other person was, she was wrong for not thanking you. Being sad, being down, being hurt, being 'anything' doesn't allow us to be rude or disrespectful to others. Maybe being in a bad place might allow me to miss thanking someone for one door, but certainly not for two... I was in a store the other day and someone's little girl (about 4) was getting a big thrill out of opening doors for people... I made sure to thank her each time, and her little face just beamed.

    I hope you and your little one had the Best Christmas ever, sweetie!!!



  3. I think you probably both walked away from the experience with something more than you had before. While she probably wasn't happy with herself that she took out her anger on the nearest target, by doing so, she probably walked away from it a little more "together" than she was. And you recognized some things about yourself, too. Experiences like this can be haunting, but in truth, they only haunt us because they were meaningful encounters with strangers. It's a reminder that we are all connected, even if we don't know each other's stories.

  4. Coffee? Hug? Smack upside the head is more like it. FFS! How were you supposed to know what was going on in this woman's life? You offered her COMMON COURTESY, you were being A CIVIL HUMAN BEING, not a self-absorbed, righteous bitch! Unless she was being beaten, robbed, kidnapped or worse at the moment you were holding the door for her, a simple "Thank You!" wouldn't have disruped her miserable self too much, IMO.

    Why do random strangers feel the need to dump their shit on others? Did she know how you felt that day? Did she even care? OMFG! Whatever happened to manners and just plain being gracious? You weren't doing something for personal gain, it's just fucking polite! Was it going to kill her to just say, "Thanks!"? And even if she was lost in her thoughts of misery, it would have been more human to just say, "Sorry", not go postal all over you.

    I'm sorry to rant, once again, all over your blog but people like this woman just piss me right the hell off. YOU did what is right and polite, she was wrong and discourteous.

  5. Wow. I get this D. I think sometimes, when we are going through stuff, we also look for someone to release the anger to. Maybe she needed you, in that moment, to be her target. Maybe she felt a little lighter after. I agree with what April said.

    I've been considering my "giving" too. I've been feeling a bit empty lately.

  6. Your response is quite logical, though the reaction may differ from person to person. You actually said what most would still think.

    I would argue however, that her having a bad day doesn't give her carte blanch to through courtesy and discretion out the door. A simple "my apologies, I'm in another world right now" would have sufficed.

    All of us in society could do much better about thinking more of the other person and less about ourselves.

  7. I don't give a shit what you're going through. How difficult is it to utter 2 words? "Thank you"

    It's quite simple. I know. I've had to do it.

    You shouldn't have felt bad for one second.

  8. I think that you were on the wrong side of her mood...I think courtesy does not go out the window when our lives fall apart! on the other hand..we do what we do because it is right, not because it will be noticed! Regardless, don't take it so to heart! learn from it, as you have..but don't own it! You did what most of us would have done or felt like doing!

  9. It was rude of the woman to not even say thanks ! How hard is it to say thank you? But on the other hand, she is kinda right.

    I personally don't like it when people do things for me, things I never asked for because then they will expect something from me, whether it is a thank you or a favor..... all for them doing something I never even asked for or wanted in the first place.

    But don't be so hard on yourself. You were just trying to be nice.

  10. People never cease to amaze me. Yeah, not always in a good way. I love that you were able to take this experience and turn it into a moment of introspection and growth. Yay, Danielle! I'm so impressed.

    Big hugs.

  11. Bravo! I don't even think it matters what the reason was that you held the door open. I think what matters most is your level of introspection in regards to your level of growth. Not too many people are able to step back and go, "What's going on with me?" I applaud you my beautiful friend!

  12. I like that you looked at both sides of the coin. I'm the "hold the door open/open it for other people" kind of guy myself. I'll get thank yous or not. Either way the act of feeling helpful is a good one.

  13. She is a taker and a selfish one at that to try to make you feel bad for giving to her in the first place. Do not question why you give - just keep doing it and hope your kindness rubs off on people. POLITENESS is always the right way to go. A thank you is NEVER too much to ask. Calling her out on it may have been a little risky with your kiddo in tow because people are CRAZY and you never know what they are going to do but you handled it very well. I think I would have just waited until she was past then leaned down and explained to my kid we are polite even when others aren't because it is the right thing to do and maybe done it loud enough for her to hear. LOL Not said anything directly to her but said to my baby "We hold doors for people even if they are rude and don't thank us because it is kind and the right thing to do." Loud enough she could hear and get the point and to teach our kid compassion and politeness. :)

  14. Ok. I gotta say. This is one of my pet peeves too. And even after she went off on you about how 'bad her day was'....I STILL think you say THANK YOU!

    I was raised to be polite and it's flat out IMPOLITE to not say thank you someone when they do something nice for you. It's not about whether you held the door open 'from your heart', to me it's about you did something nice for someone else and it deserves a thank you. Period.

    I'm thinking this means you are a nicer person than I am (lol). *hugs* hon....

  15. Common courtesy is not so common!

    I think most of us are polite and thoughtful because of our upbringing. Not sure how the young generation will do, with their eyes, brains and hands on their cells and ipods - although I could be surprised.

    Even when I had a bad day, at the worst, I'll fake a smile as a thank you.

  16. Sorry, you have no problem---except if being polite is a problem---
    Tough luck if she was having a bad day---her day just got a hell of a lot better by you being polite
    I would have done exactly the same, except I usually say--IT'S A PLEASURE

  17. awww, jeesh. i hate to hear that this happened. i'm sorry. granted she may have been having a horrible day, there wouldn't have been anything wrong with her still saying thank you or even acknowledging what you had done. and no, i don't think you do things to get praise but it does feel good to be thanked all the same.