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Helping others and being treated badly

edited August 2011 in Buddhism Basics
Help!! i am struggling with how certain situations work. I am what i would say an overly helpful person, l will do anything for anyone and dont mind at all. I have some friends who really are not nice people and although l repeately help them out. They are not very nice to me when the dont need my help anymore, ignorant and dishonest!! how do l deal with these people in my life? currently i get stressed and angry with them and feel used but i dont want to feel that way anymore its such a waste of my energy!
Thanks

Comments

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    If it hurts, then don't do that.
  • stay away from them, one is my next door neighbour!
  • I too struggle(d) with this, and then I learned what it meant to be co-dependent. There are ways to break the cycle of giving/loving/doing too much - there are even 12-step groups that address coping strategies and offer support.
    Though they are sort of faith-based in that they mention a higher power, and some even use the "g" word. If you are okay with that it could be worth looking into.
    Like genkaku says it's okay to say no, especially if it's hurting you that people are ungrateful for what you are offering up to them, or if they are treating you poorly.
    Dana is one thing, being taken advantage of quite another, and if it truly feels bad, stop.
  • I have some friends who really are not nice people...
    I'd be in the market for some new friends if I were you...
  • I have been slowly getting rid of old friends and realizing who the good ones are. It takes time. I also tend to do too much of the caretaking and effort. Well I stopped in one relationship and instead of accepting what I was told paid attention to what was not being said as well. It broke the relationship but by staying honest throughout I still feel good about myself.

    It is a great day when you still have compassion but you care about yourself as much as you care about others damage.
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited August 2011
    You aren't really doing them any good, and you're definitely not doing yourself any good. I'd put my generosity towards more worthy people or causes if I were you.
  • friend

    noun

    1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

    2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.

    3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?


    I don't see anything in here about "treats like crap". Just saying...
  • I once heard a teacher say... if you try to hug a tiger to express your love, you will get bitten. So, just love the tiger from distance.
  • Here is Buddha's pragmatic advice to his son Rahula.


    "In the same way, Rahula, bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions are to be done with repeated reflection.

    "Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it:

    "While you are doing a bodily action, you should reflect on it:

    "Having done a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities."


    Instructions to Rahula
  • I once heard a teacher say... if you try to hug a tiger to express your love, you will get bitten. So, just love the tiger from distance.
    Thank you so much for your replies, they have helped particularly Pain, that quote is amazing and sums up my new approach to certain friends.

    Its so hard to be treated badly when I have done what I can, its so hard to get my head around it and that's what stresses me out. I feel I am always sat here thinking why why why and again again again. I do think a particular friend has problems beyond what I can do, her nature appears to be take all she can from everyone, when she needs it and leave them out if they haven't got anything to offer. Its very sad and part of me wants her to undestand how her actions affect me, but I think she would just become abusive and irrate!! Its a shame her bare bones are of a nice person.

    Thanks again everyone! :)
  • You get better Karma for helping people who are not nice to you homes :) know wat im sayin?
  • That is at least good, maybe the karma. I have been there so many times and I hate to add up the time and the money and whatever else I have given freely only to have people react when I run out of it all. Being in a place where I am pretty well exhausted is not good so if you can stop before that and see what is happening that is great.
  • You get better Karma for helping people who are not nice to you homes :) know wat im sayin?
    But are you really helping them if you're allowing them to habitually mistreat you? Aren't you just reinforcing their bad behavior?

    Alan
  • I I think you are talking about the idea of Idiot Compassion. It is an important concept for us helper types. Usually we do a lot of idiot compassion along the way to a deeper compassion. I think that one warning sign for myself is when I feel I need to tell people about what i did, or when I start to feel resentment. Those are 2 signs that i am either focused on the wrong reasons or that the situation is very unbalanced.
  • I agree Alan, its come to a point that i believe that friends only think that i am helping because i want something in return. I am from reading this forum over the past few days coming to some conclusions. Mainly that some people are who they are circusmtance and society makes us what we are, we can only do what we want to do. I cant changed her behaviour, i can only be me and do what i feel l want to do. I think l need to learn to accept her as she is, and that i cant change her just accept it. Its sad though, because i do feel l am reinforcing her bad behaviour. If it was to speak to her about it, l would be shouted at and it would upset me more!! i need to let her go and think about me for awhile and be a friend and neighbour without putting myself in harms way!
  • I I think you are talking about the idea of Idiot Compassion. It is an important concept for us helper types. Usually we do a lot of idiot compassion along the way to a deeper compassion. I think that one warning sign for myself is when I feel I need to tell people about what i did, or when I start to feel resentment. Those are 2 signs that i am either focused on the wrong reasons or that the situation is very unbalanced.
    YES unbalanced thats an important point and one i need to consider! also for me my need to be appreciated and thanked for doing something, am i more needy than i thought. Do i help unconditionally!!! wow i need to think more about this!
    thanks

  • I think it's appropriate to expect appreciation and thanks from those you help. It should be a part of common courtesy, although it may not be quite so common these days. If you have a child who has received a gift from an aunt or grandparent, wouldn't you want your child to write a thank you letter? Taking from others without showing any appreciation is very selfish. This is not a quality I would want to encourage in my children or my friends.

    I do believe that it is important to love others unconditionally. But I don't think that helping unconditionally is always the best way to express that love. Sometimes you have to put conditions on your help so others don't take that help for granted and become dependent on it, or perhaps even expect it as an entitlement.

    Alan
  • All very true, l am beginning to wish l was an adult in the 80's instead of being a child then. I was brought up with common courtsey and have instilled it in my children, while some of my friends who are parents have children who are terrible. Things have changed hugely in the past 20 years, and it makes it harder to be what i deem courtius in a society that totally loss the meaning of respect.

    so what's the next move for me, to distance myself from those who take take? i do believe they think they are entitled to help from me now, and in times when l am unable to help as l am doing something else, that is when i see a different person than my usual friend! its such hard work. I dont have many friends, years of being treated badly have left me unable to let people get that close, but some are still there due to locality and still the abuse goes on!
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    kayward,

    When we help others, we feel good. Perhaps you've been enabling instead of helping? I think instead of "distance from those who take take", perhaps you could set and enforce loving but direct boundries. Then, those who are only interested in leeching from you will have to have to look elsewhere, and hopefully find effective help. Here, now, that's obviously not you.

    Consider reading a book called Codependent No More. It outlines many of the difficulties you sound like you're experiencing, and helps us see the wisdom and application of proper boundries.

    With warmth,

    Matt
  • @kayward2011 I find myself in a similar position as yourself sometimes. I have found that if you just say no when you need to and explain why you are saying no, things will dissolve on their own accord. This means 'friends' that are only around because they want things from you, will fall away. Friends that truly enjoy you as a person will understand and your friendship will be stronger and have more mutual respect. Good luck.
  • Thank you!!! lots to think about
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited August 2011
    You get better Karma for helping people who are not nice to you homes :) know wat im sayin?
    But are you really helping them if you're allowing them to habitually mistreat you? Aren't you just reinforcing their bad behavior?

    Alan
    Generosity and a mind of goodwill are positive things, but (knowingly) enabling bad habits does not create good karma for anyone as far as I'm concerned.
  • Yet again in the past hour its happens again and because l said no l am left feeling bad, thinking she thinks l am bad! its a mindfield trying to sort out how i feel and react to the behaviour of others :(
  • Why do you have people who are disrespectful of you as friends? Why are these people in your life? You are the one who chooses whom to let into your life. It sounds like you're making unhealthy choices. Why is that? Why are you surrounding yourself with "not very nice" people?

    The next door neighbor? An awful lot of people these days never even meet their neighbors. Why so chummy? If you see your neighbor all you have to do is say hello, then keep walking. People can't be a part of your life unless you let them. Just something to think about.
  • It doesn't hurt to stop and think before carrying out an action. Weigh the pros and cons about the person and if it's even worth it to be nice to them. :)
  • When I look back over my life I have only had one friend who is a friend for me who I am and not a friend who wants me to go out because no-one else is, or for babysitting, or because I can do something for them. Its strange looking back. I don't know why I carry on with them, I guess I just accepted that's the kind of person I attract and just got on with it. Now I can't do it anymore, its like l want mutual friendships rather than materialist ones! :)
  • Friends come and go; the enemy you have now will be your friend one day and every one of your friends will become enemies at some point the in the continuum of lives.
    This is one way to reach the point where you view all beings as equally deserving of your help. And, as we all have lived countless lives there's a high probability that, at some time or other, we've all been each others' mothers, and we can think of all other beings in that sense as well...as deserving of gratitude for caring for us when we would have died otherwise, of wiping the snot from our noses, changing us, healing us, etc. So we should really, having developed a sense of equanimity, feel the same desire to both help others in need and give them what will make them truly happy. And you can and should meditate on this from time to time. So all beings are deserving of our help, when we can effectively give it.

    So, how does this relate to your particular dilemma?

    For one thing you have limited time and energy and ability to help others, as an ordinary being. So, as many have pointed out, you should address the situations of others skillfully, and, if at all possible, where your efforts may lead to a lessening of suffering, an increase in insight of the person helped, an increase in the love and compassion of the person helped, etc. And so you sometimes just have to pull the plug and temporarily, at least, remove yourself, when your presence does little or nothing to either remove suffering from another or to give them the tools they need to achieve happiness, temporary or permanent. That doesn't mean you should care any less for them. It means that, right now, your efforts aren't bearing fruit, and the energy you are putting into them could and should be used for a better and higher purpose(s), and I think you know what they are. It's very difficult to have a good practice when you attach yourself to another in the way that you describe. Now I've been in exactly your situation, in terms of caring for others. The difference is that I was doing it in a way that, I think, was helpful for all those involved (at one point, for example, my father, mother, and sister were simultaneously in either a hospital or nursing facility recovering from a medical condition; I left my job for a bit to care for them. I have no regrets at all about what I did and I think my efforts were proper in that situation.

    You need to gauge whether your efforts are bearing fruit or sapping your strength.

    One last comment. If you look for reciprocation from the person you're trying to help you're not cultivating the right attitude. Doctors who treat half-blown up suicide bombers do it because it's a life, a sentient being, not for a thank you from someone who wanted to kill him/her. And we should try to end suffering just because it's suffering and we can't bear to see any sentient being suffer. If you can clearly help this person in a meaningful way and they never thank you then you have done something extraordinary; you have advanced on the path through this pure act, based on compassion and not samsaric need to be liked or appreciated.

  • Ah. So now you're noticing that things aren't working for you, and something has shifted inside you, so that now you want nice people for friends. This is progress. :) Now you can keep your eye out for nice people as you go about your life. You can be more discerning. And you can gradually phase out the other friendships, sort of move them to a back burner, and not see them as often.
  • One last comment. If you look for reciprocation from the person you're trying to help you're not cultivating the right attitude. Doctors who treat half-blown up suicide bombers do it because it's a life, a sentient being, not for a thank you from someone who wanted to kill him/her. And we should try to end suffering just because it's suffering and we can't bear to see any sentient being suffer. If you can clearly help this person in a meaningful way and they never thank you then you have done something extraordinary; you have advanced on the path through this pure act, based on compassion and not samsaric need to be liked or appreciated.
    I am a big believer in being generous to others without expectation of reward. There are even situations, such as interventions, where it may be necessary to help someone who will hate you for it. But I also believe it is important to be smart about helping others, so as to avoid falling into what a previous poster referred to as idiot compassion. When someone can't be bothered to say "thank you" for favors received and only comes to you when they need something from you, that should raise a big red flag in your mind. Doing favors for selfish users only encourages them to continue being selfish users. There is no merit in that.
    Yet again in the past hour its happens again and because l said no l am left feeling bad, thinking she thinks l am bad!
    It does seem to me that you may have fallen into the trap of becoming a people pleaser. Do you want to be free or do you want to be a slave? When you do favors for others for the purpose of gaining their approval, then you become a slave to their approval. They can make you do what they want by simply bestowing or withholding that approval. Be free! Help others not to gain their approval, but to do the right thing, regardless of how it makes you feel. When you do the right thing based on your inner values, not on what others think, then you have control, not them.

    Alan

  • Thank you all for your reponses! i am overwhelmed with insight that will really help me move forward!! i am not doing anyone any favors by giving in and only hurting myself! thanks again x
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