Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

The ability to give is an incredible gift. The ability to give without expectations and/or resenting it later on is definitely a trait in someone’s character that’s admirable. In the back of your mind, you always have to wonder what people’s motives are. The ‘do gooders’ in life- why do they go out of their way, to just throw it back into your face? Are they sincere at the time of their generosity? Or do they already know and premeditated a plan to let it all come crashing down, once the ‘receiver’ has been satisfied with the gift at hand? A “thank you” isn’t enough. Some ‘do gooders’ want your blood. They want you to serve them forever- reminding you of every good deed they have done for you.

There are some ‘do gooders’ who feel that their good deeds will be noticed by God, or worse yet, be noticed by other people. “Oh what a wonderful person Jane is! Look at her charity work! She is a Godsend!” Do they look for that special pat on the back? Or do they expect some sort of treatment that is equal or beyond from what they’ve done? If I do this much for them, then I need this much back, type of scenario.

It’s a shame, because I find myself seeking the motives in people’s generosity. If it’s too much, I find myself declining. If it’s even a small gesture, I wonder what that person wants from me. I don’t like to dwell on the negative aspects of giving, but lately, I’ve come across people who have hidden agendas and motives. They want to appear as ‘do gooders’, and look good to those around them. “Look what I did!” I won’t let people do that to me anymore. I used to think, “Wow that was really nice of them…what a big heart he/she has!” Now, I’m like, “What’s his/her deal?” And it’s sad to think that way sometimes, because there are genuine people who are very giving and loving. So it’s not fair to them.

In any event, to me, it’s like selling your soul to the devil. “Oh, no, I got this.” As they pick up the tab, in front of everyone at the table. Do they truly believe karma will pay for dinner next time? Maybe. But, these people seek much more than a payback. They want your blood. Their thirsty to take you in, make you their slave for life and expect you to be there at any given moment.

What about those who are really sincere about their good deeds? It’s hard to tell with so many bad eggs around, isn’t it? You don’t know who to trust. It’s literally impossible to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They’re greedy people incognito running around manipulating reverse psychology on everyone; making them appear as the angel of light.

I don’t mean to discourage anyone from being grateful to those who are generous. Just keep an eye out and an ear open when you’re around someone who is constantly doing ‘good’, but constantly throwing it back in your face later on. Not only that, but they’ll insist they didn’t get a ‘thank you’, when in fact, you went beyond the means of saying thank you. Sometimes, you even begged them not to. “Oh, I wouldn’t have it any other way!” They insist that you take their offer. “No, no, I feel bad, let me pay for it.” And they rush off with the ‘tab’ or whatever good deed they spilled out, to give you an illusion of kindness, when it’s nothing more than a mere set of motives.

The wolf—she’s out there. She’s out on the prowl looking for her next victim. Be on alert, because if she comes after you, they’ll be payback! They’ll be hell to raise and they’ll be a tab that’s already taken care of…with tons of expectations behind it.


Catch said...

Very interesting Deb ~ I suspect most people do good things just because they want to, but you're right, there are those wolves in sheeps clothing. For instance when " Oprah " does all her charity work and good things....did you ever notice she never does anything without a camera??? " Look what I did", " Look how good I am ". Perfect example! If she these great things quietly and kept it to herself then everyone wouldnt know all she has done and think shes so great, but I'd have more respect for her.

~Deb said...

Catch: You’re absolutely right! I agree with you 110%! I love this passage from the bible: ”Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father who knows all secrets, will reward you.” ~Matthew 6:1-4

J R Estelle said...

I am just like you in that I am highly suspicious of people who want to do good things for me, or help me out. Why? becuase I've allowed people to do that, only to have it come back and bite me in the ass in the end, with the age old "well, you know I DID help you with this, or I DID help you with that." And although I could turn around make a veritable list of things that I've done out of kindness and the goodness of my own heart and NEVER expected anything in return, monetary or otherwise...I don't do that. because in the end, I know the truth, regardless.

Dammit, that just hit a nerve, sorry for ranting, where's my Candycorntini. By the way, can you patent those? Seriously.

samuru999 said...

Good-morning Deb
If I might happen to do good, the best kind of good that would give me the most satisfaction is that someone would not even know about it!
I did something for a very good friend quite a few years ago...and she stiil does not know it was me who helped her out!
Only 1 other person knows of this good deed I did for her!

Have a wonderful day!


kathi said...

I almost always decline when offered something from someone, don't really know why. But, sometimes I feel badly because it's taking from them the chance to do something for someone else. Guess growing up in my family I learned that everything comes with a cost, but I should also realize that not everyone was like my family and they may have no ulterior motive...until I read this post, lol.

├ůsa said...

Deb! I’m so sorry to hear that you have met such nasty people! I feel very fortunate because I can’t think of one person I know that is like that. Or maybe I’m too oblivious and totally in denial when they want the pay-back ;-)

My experience in the US is that people I have never met before have paid my groceries when I’ve forgotten my wallet, a few times some random traveller have paid my luggage over-weight at the counter because I just didn’t have the money. Another time a man closed his store down and drove me to the airport. Just a 10 min ride, but anyway. None of these people have ever asked me to pay them back or even given me a card so that I could at least send them a thank you. So I try to do the same for people I meet.

There is one group of people I’ve encountered who will complain: ”I do everything for everybody and no one ever gives me as much as a thank you.” But these people have all liked alcohol a little more than what was healthy. (no: not the fun party crowd)

But I must admit that I sometimes do good deeds to kill my bad conscience. I don’t feel like I’m a good person unless I do everything I can for people around me. If I notice that someone is trying to pay off their guilt debt by doing something nice for me: I let them.

I wish for you to get your faith in humanity back! There is kindness out there for all of us.

(sorry for the lengthy comment)

Justin said...

People who offer you gifts or pay for something on your behalf are usually the people who want the extra attention. They lack the self-esteem, therefore contributing and bearing gifts to either make you like them more, or have other people like them more.

Now, there are some genuine gift givers. How can you tell? Easily.

The real genuine people:

1. They never bring up what they have done for you
2. They usually give their gifts in secret (just like your passage says in your above comment)
3. They never, ever ask for it back or have you repay them

The phony people:

1. They constantly remind you of what they have done for you
2. They tell other people what they did for you
3. They claim you’re not appreciative enough

I’ve been through my share of phonies before, and you can pinpoint them out from a mile away. It’s sad that you have to evaluate people for who they are and what they do. It’s exhausting sometimes. Some people are just disappointing. And others are so unbelievably goodhearted.

Great post! Made me think of a few people I have to wonder about.

lisa a. said...

Deb-you have a good point here and I think we brushed on this topic in the past.

Does anyone remember that episode of "Friends" where Phoebe doesn't want to be selfish in anyway, shape of form, so she decides to give to charity or something of that nature? After she does so, one of the "Friends" ask her if she felt good by being charitable. She replies, "Yes, I really do." The "Friend" says, well, than the act is NOT completely selfless, because you are benefitting by feeling good! Forgive me for not remembering who her co-actor was, but you get the jist. Is there REALLY as selfless act? I think so...keep searching and you'll find it.

Thanks for the awesome post, Debbie P. This Sat? Next? I owe you a 'cocktail'. No, I insist! I'M paying! ;-)


~Deb said...

JR Estelle: I think the both of us need a Candycorntini right about now! I totally know you’re the type that would never expect anything in return. You have a big heart!

Samuru: See, that’s something that you don’t see often… You’re a rare breed, that’s for sure! Thanks Margie!

Kathi: Nothing’s for free, right? Hmm.

Asa: You’re right, those people that whine, “I do everything for everyone and no one does anything for me!” Those are the people who have the motives. It’s sad.

Justin: Wow, you basically just did an outline for me! Very detailed comment. You make great points here and you’re right! I couldn’t agree with you more.

Lisa A: I saw that episode!!! That was hysterical! So ‘feeling good’ about giving is basically selfish! (ha) Cute! Next Sat. sounds good to me. Umm, I will always accept your gifts Lisa…because they don’t come with strings or expectations. You’re a beautiful person and I am so glad to have you in my life! Love you girl! xxoo

Madelene Rose said...

I consider myself a generous person who does things for people out of generosity. What bothers me is when they expect it ALL the time. These people do not respect me when they do not do the same. They do not offer to pay and I won't remind them of all the times I paid because the good I do is to represent myself, not them. I do good for me, not for their approval. Anyway... Maybe your people diss you afterwards because they want something from you that you won't give. Something they yearn for and hope/aspire to get.

If so, they're not handling it well. Have a one-on-one. Clear the air... Either that or dump them since they're bothering you THAT much.

Anonymous said...

You get to know who is sincere and who is phony. There are still sincere, genuine people out there who don't need or ask for anything in return, they just want to do a favor for a friend! Really, there are! You just have to take the time to know who they are. Don't lose faith in your friends. There are still many good people out there.

Justin's outline is excellent. I myself cannot pinpoint the phonies a mile away... it is hard for me to do that, but on the other hand I am not too skeptical either. But... I don't ask for a lot of help from my friends so I don't have expectations.

No expectations = no disappointments. We fend for ourselves in this world.

Pittchick said...

I don't automatically trust people off the bat. I do enjoy doing things for other people, though. Not all the time, but now that I'm in a position to start "giving back", I enjoy it.
When I needed help, I didn't want others to give things to me, but some of them did and I was grateful. I can say that no one who helped me has ever thrown it back in my face.
I like the whole idea of "pay it forward"
There are definitely fake people out there, though. Hopefully they're easy to spot.

~Deb said...

Madelene Rose: Luckily, I don’t have to dump this person romantically. My girlfriend is amazing thank God, and wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. But, you are right, when they expect it all the time, it can get exhausting—on the giving end.

Anonymous: Well, I always try to take the time to see the good in people. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. The thing is, it bothers me when people offer, or “insist”, and go ahead with whatever ‘good deed’ they do…and then later on throw it back in your face. That’s the sad part.

DNA: Giving is a wonderful thing. They say that when you lend something to someone, you act as though it’s a gift, because you might not get it back. Even in court, they sometimes tell you that lending might as well be ‘giving’. You just have to trust the people you’re dealing with.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

I agree there are some folks out there who make giving an event that benefits them. The rule I have always tried to live by and the one I teach my children is "pass it on." We have been blessed, so we bless others in turn. And that means I hold the door open for strangers, treat a single Mom to an evening out or write a note or visit a shut in because I am simply passing on what has been given to me. What goes around DOES come around and if we give out of what we have been given, we bless the world and our good deeds become one large ripple effect for God's goodness.

Lisa A. said...

Right back at YOU, Debs! Thank you. XOX

Kelly said...

My ex boyfriend used to give me extravagant gifts and then later tell me how much he paid for them and how he went out of his way. He only did that when he was mad though. I did feel his generosity was genuine, but when he got mad, he would throw up every good thing he had ever done for me. People are strange that way. I think it’s because they want to show you how much effort they put into it, but by doing that, they’re making themselves look like they did it for a reason. It’s not right.

the voice said...

I am one who tries to do things without expecting things in return. I do little anonomous things when I'm able; at Christmas, I wait until the last minute to hand out cards and small presents at work, so no one will feel obligated to reciprocate. I try to do special things for my family also. It is there though, that I some times have trouble. Even though I try to do things for my wife and daughter with nothing expected in return, it does get a little frustrating when they do not ever seem to do the same. But, I just try to take a deep breath, and remember why I'm doing it in the first place, which is love. Great post! God bless you, Ken

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

True, however, I think that MOST people are good-doers without motive. But you'll never know them from a distance. They don't speak up. They just appear when needed. I think that only a margin of the population is selfish enough to seek what's in it for them.

I think. At least I have faith that most of us are good.

Sue said...

I used to feel the way you do....if you do something good for someone, why do you feel the need to keep telling people the good things you did if not to get the kudo's. I used to do ALOT of RAK's which I still do to some extent but mostly to strangers that I don't expect anything from.....My latest experience with doing something nice for someone came in the guise of giving a family of four and their three dogs a place to live -- supposedly short term -- while they found a place of their own when newly moved here from SC. Suddenly, however, 11 weeks later, I want EVERYONE to pat me on the back 'cause damn, this was one good deed gone awry LOL. One I will NEVER repeat either.....

~Dawn said...

I take things at face value and assume that they did it because it made them feel good and they WANTED to give with nothing in return, maybe it was the way I was brought up, I dunno.

I prefer to do it that way as well...

My conflict is whether to give my name and get a receipt to right off of taxes or to just hand it over as anon.

QUASAR9 said...

Great Post Deb - Is that sheep laughing and poking it's tongue out at me.
I agree with Justin - your Matthew quote is perfect (perfect cosmic karma?)
And lisa a - that episode from friends is true. Is there such a thing as a selfless act. Does it become selfish because it makes us feel good? I think the measure of giving is wrapped up in another quote, he who gives much because he has much gives little, "but this old lady who only gave 2p, and gave all she had, she gave the most"
Catch - Give Oprah a break, the 'famous' are used to raise bug bucks at charity events, sometimes against their will - they'd rather be somewhere else, but because it is charity ... and the publicity doesn't do you any harm. lol!

But this is Deb's comment box so I'll buzz off before I'm booed off.

GW Mush said...

the thing is, when I go out, I get free drinks cuz Im very pretty, you might even say hot! motive motive motive! :)

if i was a tv evangelist do-gooder, I would use my charm and power to get chics

The Absent Minded Landlord said...

Where I work I have the opposite problem. I am a generous person, I have learned quickly that I have to be carefull who I do nice things for. It is the whole "give them an inch and the'll take a mile" thing. It's sad but true.

Madelene Rose said...

Well... I didn't mean your girlfriend! I can tell she's your ideal match from what you post about her. I mean, I dumped "friends" before. They were not... good for me.

Peace! =)

nosthegametoo said...

I’m not a big believer in altruism. I also have my doubts about unconditional love as well. I mean, if your partner stole from you, must you love them the same? Isn’t that a condition called trust, which isn’t limitless?

As far as motives go. I wonder if people’s motives are all that important. What’s in their hearts is not for us to truly know. But if their actions demonstrate kindness, or goodness, why not accept it as that.

We all get rewarded for the good we do, even if we only want to be judged by other people. Like the desire to be judged a good person or honest person. We feel good about that. And in that, there is a bit of a self-serving motive.

Is there really something wrong with that?? Should we really expect people to do things for us out of kindness, with a smile, and forget any effort they may have expended while doing that deed?? All of that just to prove they care?

But then again, wouldn’t that be an instance of seeking to convince us of something for their own gain, i.e., their trustworthiness??

As always, you’ve got me thinking. And I think you're right. Although, I might call what you're talking about "manipulation", rather than giving. And I don't think anyone likes a manipulator.

Peace and Love, Deb

Kelly said...

That's just it! Manipulation is the motive with some people. Great point Nosthegame!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Personally, I share what I have with whomever and whenever I can—even when the give means that I must struggle to meet my own needs. I don’t expect a “thank you” or even an acknowledgement. In other words, my sharing is a true mitzvah, which I define as any act of human kindness, preferably done incognito.

It wasn’t until I was in seminary that I understood the purpose for my sharing. It is a sentence from the Eucharistic prayer in Service of Word and Sacrament I of the United Church of Christ Book of Worship: “We bless you for the beauty and bounty of the earth and for the vision of the day when sharing by all will mean scarcity for none.”

Dan said...

This is an incredibly thoughtful post but all I kept thinking about while reading it was that damned sheep sticking its tongue out.

I must have that sheep! That sheep is the coolest! Quite simply, that sheep rules. ;)

Sandra said...

People just want to be loved. They will go through hoops in order to be liked. How horrible is it that some people will pay others with money or give gifts, in order to be liked? It happens. I'm only speaking about those who give out of hidden agendas. They crave attention. Your gut instincts should let you determine who's genuine and who's not.

What happened to the family post? I thought that was beautifully written! I actually feel it was one of your best ones yet!

Keep them coming! Love your writing!

Heather said...

I have friends who do nothing for no one, who haven't picked up a tab once in their life but they expect others to do so. Or they say, you get this and I'll get the next one when you know this one is $100 and the next will be $20. They bug me.

I also have a friend who is extremely generous, gives lavish gifts, pays outrageous tabs and throws it back in your face the first time she doesn't like something you did. I try not to accept things from her.

Then there are the people like my friend's mom who says, "Wasn't that a great birthday. I'll expect something just as nice, if not better, for mine." And they mean it.

I sent my best friend flowers last week just 'cause - I wanted to say I love you and thank you for being my friend - and even though he's generous to a fault, I can guarantee you in the back of his mind he was looking for the ulterior motive.

Tense Teacher said...

You met my grandmother?

Maddie said...

Very excellant post Debs. It makes me feel good inside to help or pay, as you know. You have the biggest heart in the world and have given more of Yourself, than many people I know, without a second thought. That is one of your many wonderful attributes. You and I have discussed this a while ago. Very thought provoking.

GW Mush said...

I asked Deb to remove the FAMILY posting because she didnt say in it that she loves me like a brother. I felt left out and I wont be picking up any dinner tabs anymore! :)
:: Smooches Deb:::

Anne said...

As I was reading your post I kept thinking to myself, "Wow! What in the world has happened to her?" You see the best in people, so this skepticism must come from some really bad encounters. I'm sorry you've been burned so much. Sue - you made me laugh. I just got free of such a situation as you are presently in. Mine went on 2 years (I have finally found my voice to speak up!) Fortunately we have learned our lesson ~ some friendships are great as long as there's two homes to return to after a get together. :)

GW Mush said...

I usually am real nice to my dates. I pretend to listen to them, and say, yes, I understand, yes, I see your point sweety.
I do all this with the motive of getting laid, hehe

Cathy and Skylo said...

It's those who bear gifts, which you have to worry about. I'm always cautious with people who approach me or offer me something more than I need. I'm sorry that it seems as though you've been thru the ringer with these types of folks, but I truly believe there are good people out there. Frankly, they're hard to find, but indeed, they're out there. Have hope!

Great post. It really makes you think about the concept of giving, as well as receiving Deb.

QUASAR9 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DaBich said...

Ahh Deb, you hot my boss right to the "s". He once offered me tickets to a major league baseball game...I had them in my hand and was saying thank you, when he said "Now, remember, I might need a favor some day."
I handed them back to him and said "No thanks, I don't accept GIFTS with strings attached!"
He stuttered and stumbled over his words, but finally came up with "No, no I was just joking, go and enjoy."
Beat him at his own game! lol

Jaded&Opinionated said...

Those who do good for the sake of doing good are rarely seen. That's the whole point.

"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:5-6

It's the same thing.

Natalia said...

Really good points here. You can tell (at least I think I can) when someone is doing something for the wrong reasons. The deed itself has a different feel to it. And the motives tend to show. I think it's rather is a great feeling. Seeing someone hapy because of something you did is the reward in itself. I hate it when people do things because it will look good, because they feel obligated to, or because they are expecting something. They are missing the joy and the point.


Neers said...

very very true, ~Deb!! this imbalance does play to be unfair for people who are genuinely good.

Thanks Deb for stopping by!

Cinderella said...

I know a few people like this but they are no-longer in my life and it's greaaaat!! I hate fake people. I know hate is a strong word but it's how I feel.

I am a lot like the 'do-gooders' though. I do have to admit that. But I only pick up tabs and buy gifts for my family or friends but it is sincere in that reguard.

Great message as always, I know I will stay alert!!

Hope you had a great weekend!

LisaBinDaCity said...

UGH. I know that wolf. All too well.

Scary creature she is.

ell said...

it's sad to think that people would do something nice, just for a future "payback". kind of defeats the purpose.

Anonymous said...

Hi Debbie,
Apology first - I'm sorry for the disappearing thing. I was in kind of a funk for a while.

I really HATE it if someone reminds me of something they did for me, so it's really difficult for me to accept genorosity without looking for a motive. I'd rather do without than to have someone throw a good deed in my face.

Missed you!

ell said...

no place to comment there, but your friday clip was hysterical!!!

Saur♥Kraut said...

ooooooh, highly cynical! I think there are certainly people out there with bad motives, but I'm a giver and love to give where there's a need. I don't brag about it in my blog, but I give away great deals of money, things, and time to the people who need it. I don't feel the need to go around saying "lookit me!", but I'm often happy to pick up the tab.

Advizor said...

All of this reminds me of a pre-wedding ritual that drives me crazy.

We will get a wedding invitation and the first thing everyone does is check out where the reception is going to be held, how much they expect dinner to cost, and then try and find a gift that is the exact amount of the cost of the dinner. In other words, we aren't going to give a gift to the bride and groom (assuming that they are either friends or family - both of whom we should love and adore), but we are just helping them break even on a party where we are the guest. I love giving presents and I hate the internal debate I hear in my head about is it "too much." I'm blessed to be able to share gifts on the nicer side, but I don't like having my friends feel obligated to return the favor at a later date. I really don't expect anything at all, but I don't want to put pressure on my friends. The end result is that I always tone down what I would like to give.

But, do I get a reward for giving? Yes, I get this great feeling inside that I was able to help someone, or find that 'perfect' gift, or just celebrate a big occasion with a friend. Selfish? perhaps, but I don't care. I love that feeling, and I'm not going to stop being nice to avoid someone else's definition of selfish.

And as for giving anonymously? I tried that last Christmas and it completely backfired on me. One of my friends thought the nameless mystery gifts were laced with anthrax and freaked out (it was in the middle of a terror scare here). That made her boyfriend mad which spilled over into the group. I was shunned from the group and am still not invited to any of their parties and they no longer talk to me at the gym. So the terrorists have won this little battle.