Sunday, September 07, 2008

Couple Questions

1) Can people act to help someone without something in return?
2) What is the fear that underlies vulnerability? Why are people afraid to show weakness before others, even close friends? What is that underlying fear?


Kirsten said...

1) Yes, I think that people can help someone without somthing in return. If I stop to help someone who has been hurt, I certainly don't expect any payment or anything, I am just trying to help. period. Although...thinking about it now, I guess what I 'want in return' is more of a pay it forward kind of thing. i.e. If I show kindness to someone, I hope that they in turn would show kindness to someone else, so does that classify as wanting something in return? I don't know...
2) The fear in showing even close riends your vulnerability is the fear that because you show it, you may be rejected because of it or made fun of because of it. Even if on a conscious level you know that person accepts everything about you, the fear will still be there.

Ryan said...

1) Do you get a good feeling out of helping someone? Isn't that a form of payback as well? In other words, if there wasn't a good feeling for you associated with it would you still do it? I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just asking if that is really the motivation.

2) That is an excellent observation! Thanks!

Kirsten said...

1) Well, I guess after the fact I would probably feel good, sure...but I wouldn't say that that is always the motivation for acting. Sometimes you act first, feel good second, other times you may realize that acting will make you feel good so you act. So its hard to say if that's always a form of getting something out of it.

Meredith Self said...

1) Since we live in a causal universe of cause and effect, every action has an effect, how can we really separate it. We may act out of compassion or selflessness or even at risk to ourselves for another or greater good. But even that effect affects us. So maybe, the question isn't 'someTHING' in return. Or is an emotion, thought or aspect of consciousness a thing.

2) Oh...that's a long list. I don't believe it could be boiled down. Any limiting belief could give rise to that fear.
I'm not lovable.
I'm not worthy.
I'm wrong or something is wrong with me.
I don't want to seem better than them.
I'm always misunderstood.
I can't impose.
I can't lose control.
(same as J's EDMR list, really)

what do you think? have you discovered a common point?

Ryan said...

1) Yea, 'something' probably gave the wrong impression. I was definately shooting for more of a less tangible reward. I think people act out of motivations, whether they are concious or subconcious. If there wasn't some sort of payback - a good feeling or some sort of good favor that can help in the future, etc - we wouldn't act. I don't know that I buy into the idea that you can act totally selfishly. Sure, you can act selfishly from a materialistic point of view but you get something out of it or you wouldn't do it all. That's kinda where my thinking is.

2) Sure, those are fears but what do they have to do with showing some of that to people you really trust? Meaning, is the fear that someone will use those fears against you? I guess what I'm not expressing well, and it may just be a distinction without a difference, is what causes us to NOT expose those fears you listed to anyone else? That's what I'm trying to get at.

CMS said...

Funny. I think I've had this discussion before.

#1 - Do you mean without getting something or without EXPECTING something??

Every action/choice has a return. I think what matters ( kinda as Kirsten mentioned) is whether that is the primary reason for the action/choice. If it's a tertiary reason or an added benefit, then who cares? And honestly, if it benefits another in a substantial way, who cares? Take going to a shelter to feed the homeless. Some might do it because they see a need they can fill. Others might do it to make others perceive them as humanitarian - their primary concern is to fill their resume and change their public reception. Someone else may choose to do it because it makes them feel beneficial to the community. All in all, the homeless are getting fed.

On the personal side, when did it become a bad thing to feel like a good person? The terms selfish and selfserving have such bad connotations. I choose to never think that someone giving me flowers is a selfish act. Even if it is, I won't deter the potential beauty of the act.

And to push one step farther, can't all acts be defined as selfish?? Eating is selfish as it benefits the person doing it. Sharing ones thoughts can be selfish, working can be selfish - especially for the single person. CLothing, car and homepurchase is selfish. Are you getting that?? Push this envelope and EVERYTHING that benefits an individual is selfish. The difference is who or what is at the forefront of the decision of action. If you do only for yourself, you are selfish. If you buy a house for your family that doesn't serve anyone but you - you are selfish. If you buy a present for your sibling that they may hate just so that you may use it, you are selfish.

If you do for others with others being the main reason and you happen to get a good feeling from it, that is not selfish. That is reward. If you do for others and then feel like crap.... I feel sorry for you.

Let's go one step further - If you didn't get any feeling or feedback from any action, would you persist in doing that action?

#2 - Vulnerability IS the underlying reason. Something that is vulnerable can be hurt or even destroyed. I think people don't share in order NOT to become vulnerable. They don't trust those in their company that way. Plain and simple.

However, I also believe the other side of that coin is that those people cannot be built up either. There is a reward to being vulnerable - there is also great risk. The human analogy to the stock market.

Cool topic. I love to round table this one sometime. :-)

CMS said...

FYI - in my entry, "you" isn't you as in Ryan, you as in us, we, those, etc. Didn't mean for that do come over as accusatory. Sorry if it did :-(.

Ryan said...

Thanks for the reply. Round tabling this would be fun.

1) You are right that selfishness has a nasty conotation. I wonder the reasons for it? In any case, you say 'Some might do it because they see a need they can fill.' in respect to feeding the homeless. Sure, that might be the rationalization for it but the underlying motivation is because of what you get in return, the self-respect or good feeling or whatever. Not because you just wanted to fill a need. As you say later 'If you didn't get any feeling or feedback from any action, would you persist in doing that action?' why would you do it in the first place?

What I'm arguing is what I have discovered to be called Enlightened Self-Interest ( In a nutshell, you don't do anything without something in it for you. Self interest. You may not be aware (or honest with yourself about it), but your true motivations involve you and what you get from it in some way.

Further, I don't think there is anything wrong with that at all. It is interesting how we react with such disgust or dismay about it. One of the hardest things I learned in therapy goes directly to this point in that I wasn't being selfish enough. I wasn't minding my own needs above others. If you don't do that, you can never stand to be in a happy healthy relationship.

2) Vunlerablity doesn't happen in a vacum. There has to be a reason for it. Someone mentioned a throw back to the survival instinct and that in showing weakness you can be picked off. I think the origination of this fear to show vunlerability probably lies back there.

CMS said...

#2 -gave a little thought to this. The fear of vulnerability I think, in some cases, can happen in a vacuum, much like oversensitivity. Perhaps the fear of being/getting hurt is powerfully intrinsic for some - never take chances, never confide, etc. In those other cases though, it does stand to reason that an incident or event created or empowered that fear. Many people have suffered such things, but some take their lumps and move on. Others absorb or..what's the word.... internalize the event(s) I think if that is the case though, it takes a lot of time, love, and patience from the other party to either help work through that barrier (if the primary party desires that) or accept it.