Monday, June 18, 2007

Emotional Greed

Greed manifests in many forms. We understand material greed like keeping our riches to ourselves while others are cold and hungry.
But there is emotional greed, too. Choosing not to help others, choosing not to love, is a form of greed. Both kinds lend themselves to an imbalance in the world.

Another side of emotional greed is when you share your wealth, but do it for public pat on the back.
Why? Because you’re doing it to be noticed, not just to help someone else.
Yes, fine. People who need the assistance are getting it, albeit temporarily. But what’s the real motive behind the gesture?

Are you helping because someone needs it? Or do you want people to find out what you did and make a big fuss over you for it?
If so, you’re bragging. You’re taking the good energy of helping and using it to fill a gap inside yourself.

Yes, you helped another, but you did virtually nothing to help yourself. Instant emotional gratification has no lasting effect. You get your pat on the back then forget about it or believe you have done enough.

Perhaps you relive the pat on the back and come to believe that is what is important. Instead of looking outwardly for gratification to feel like a hero, do your good deeds quietly and let yourself feel it inside.

“I will say this to you, yes I will, that you are all heroes,” said my guide Moondrop.
“No, you don’t have to make the big splash. You are a hero when you offer to someone the help that they need at that moment.”
“Share what love you have, even if you think it is only a little and no one wants it. That little will grow to a lot and someone who needs it will receive it. Maybe not directly from you, but you give it to a person and whether it is wanted or not, the gesture has made an impact. This person offers love to someone else and through your simple act of offering, someone, somewhere, is helped. You did this.”


Crabby McSlacker said...

So just to be obnoxious, I think I'll disagree with you here. And this is going to sound a little crazy and cynical, but please bear with me.

While on the surface a "pure" act of generosity seems more admirable that an obvious desire for a pat on the back--I think all generosity is, at least subconsciously, selfish. And I think that's perfectly fine.

Because I think human motivation is really complicated. I think our "social" needs for approval are often at the root of our empathy and generosity. We're just built that way. We want to be "good" people because we're hard-wired to be social animals; to get along in society you need to know how to sublimate your own desires and act for the good of other people.

You can tell yourself you're helping someone else because it's "right," but deep down inside there's a little voice you can't even hear that says "you're doing the right thing, good for you, people will sense you're a fine person. Way to go!

I don't think you could ever did down so deeply in someone's psyche that you could separate the desire to help others from the desire to be thought of as "good". But I don't think the fact that our generosity boosts our own self esteem is a bad thing.

I just think more psychologically sophisticated people are better at focusing more on the recipient's needs than their own self-esteem. But I think the link is still there regardless.

But then I'm a skeptic without any deeply held spiritual beliefs, so maybe that explains my weird take on this.

Anyway, great topic Leah and sorry to go off the deep end!

Leah J. Utas said...

You can go off the deep end here any time you like, Crabby. In fact, I welcome it.
You make a valid point. I agree that we need approval and that generosity boosts our self-esteem.
Nothing wrong with any of that.
But it's when the doer eclipses the deed that the problems set in.
It's great to do good and feel good about it. My point is you don't have to announce it to the world all the time. The Universe knows.

Dawn said...

Youch, Leah! Now I feel guilty about my latest post. I'll comment anywhere folk! I want nothing in return! I love you all!

Virginia Lee said...

Leah, I think you and Crabby both have valid points.

I come from a family of emotionally greedy people who give nothing to anyone unless they will benefit from it in some tangible way. I try very hard to be as unlike them as possible.

I hope I am not kind or giving because I want a pat on the back. I hope my motives are more pure than that. I genuinely love people. Often to my detriment. I'm sure there are times when my motives are not so pure, but I honestly believe they are rare.

But then, I may just be deluding myself...

Leah J. Utas said...

Posting's different, Dawn. You're not alone. I want 'em back, too.

Virginia Lee, you are much too self-aware to have to worry about your motives.