Do good – I remember my mother telling me this on a number of occasions since I was a little girl. It’s something most of us have grown up hearing from society. It is so ingrained in our character through various teachings, from being compassionate and helping others, to sharing and being modest, that we sometimes forget our inherent need of self-preservation.
Have you ever done something good and for some reason felt unappreciated, hurt or even taken advantage? I confess I used to get affected when mine or others act of kindness went unnoticed and unappreciated… I used to ask myself why even bother? For years, I thought that the people who I felt did not appreciate me or in my perception took advantaged of me were to blame for my feeling of sadness and hurt. I have since learnt otherwise.
Through yoga, in the practice of Ahimsa – the very first Yama in the Yoga Sutras, which are guidelines to living a fulfilling life – I’ve learnt that harbouring negative feelings inhibits us from being truly happy; whether it is towards the person who took advantage of us or towards ourselves for allowing it to happen. I truly believe that we are free to help others however we wish, but if at any point we feel that our soul is being hurt, then we must take steps to stop that from happening again.
I’ve summarised the four steps that helped take back control of emotions and deal with such situations better:
- Recognise your motivation to help. Know why you’ve agreed to help someone, and if you did it to get something in return. Be totally honest with yourself. Expectations open the door to disappointment; the best way to prevent being hurt is to do good for simply the sake of doing good or helping others; do not expect anything in return.
- Rationally view the situation to know what you lost and what you gained; and try to understand the other person’s reasoning behind doing what they did. This aids in knowing where your emotions are coming from, which would help you deal with them better.
- Forgive the person anyway. You are only in control of your own actions and emotions. By forgiving them you take that control back. As we forgive, we lighten the load we carry.
- Most importantly, strengthen your inner self. Rationalising such situations helps us find our weaknesses and work on them. When we increase our self-awareness, we can discern whether someone is genuinely in need of help.
Doing good is a healing balm to our soul. It should taste sweet, not bitter. Next time you’re in the position to help someone, I hope the points above help you. Having said that, I encourage you to do good simply for the sake of helping. The world needs more of that energy to be passed around, don’t you agree?