When you give & give but lack support in return

“What to do when you feel betrayed or disappointed by people very close to you? When you support others, but then when you need support, they don’t do the same in return?” This is the first part of a question I received…


The rest of their question goes like this:

“When you focus a lot on doing for others who are close to you, or even acquaintances, helping and giving, but others seem almost completely self-focused?

I have this weird existential feeling along with these questions. When i help people and do a lot of acts of service, show up for people, etc., I tend to feel very connected to people, my bonds are strong and i belong to my group/community/the world/the universe. But when i am the one who is burned out, sick, in a weak position, i can feel alone with it, and become judgmental of people in my life, thinking they don’t have the same amount of empathy or make the same effort as i would…

I know I have an issue with over-stretching myself and over-doing, and I tend towards my comfort zone of being “the strong one” so feel far less comfortable receiving. Maybe this is linked?”

How to Deal With Disappointment from Lack of Reciprocity or Appreciation

Our purpose and our identity are often built upon our principles, values and life choices. That is our output. That is what we do or how we try to show up in the world. It is a combination of our presence and our actions.

To balance our output, we tend to look for feedback or input.

First, we may look at how we are impacting the world through our presence or actions. That feedback becomes another layer of our identity and it may match our purpose or it may NOT!

So, our perceived impact on others can fuel our purpose or drain our purpose. It can validate or invalidate our self-worth if our efforts don’t seem to bring the results that we want.

Secondly, we may look at how the world responds to our presence or actions. This is how people treat us or how they feel about us. If we’ve been very generous with others yet they don’t seem to care, appreciate or support us, then it can feel like a one-way street. It can feel like a betrayal or a disappointment.

DISILLUSIONMENT happens when we feel such a deep betrayal or repeated disappointment that it actually changes our worldview. It’s when we abandon our values because our experiences seem to show that they don’t matter. It may feel like you have woken up from a con game and you feel duped or used.  You never want to be so idealistic again so you feel like throwing out your principles and your compassion.


Your Principles Matter…

If you conceived of something good, beautiful or meaningful, it is worth doing – for YOU, for the benefit of Humanity and for the Universe…

Even if the reality is that a lot of people don’t seem to appreciate, notice or reciprocate, you can continue doing it for YOU. Think of your kindness and generosity as expressions of your soul. It’s less about them and more about honoring yourself.

Your Well-Being Matters…

Sometimes, your principles and values may lead you to sacrifice your time, money and energy in order to help others.  However, if your output is causing SELF-HARM, this kind of generosity is unsustainable and probably enabling some type of unhealthy dynamic.  As the saying goes: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

e.g. when a parent continually helps out their adult children out of recurring debts…enabling their habits and never giving them a chance to experience the true consequences of their actions.

Your Trust In Humanity Matters…

After disillusionment, we lost our trust in the goodness of humanity or the universe. Most of the time, cynicism is the aftermath.

But the funny thing is, you can feel cynical yet continue giving because it’s such a strong part of your identity, principles or purpose. The catch is, you will feel drained or resentful and eventually burn out.

Of course, the other thing that can happen is that you stop giving and build a thick wall around your heart. You may shut down your empathy in order to stop feeling disappointment or grief.

To avoid this cynical and inaccurate conclusion about life and humanity, I teach my students and clients to really understand our survival modes.  When we feel threatened, rejected or judged, it causes us to react in ways that seem selfish, greedy, deceptive, cruel or violent.

On the other hand, we are essentially good, generous, loving and creative when we feel safe, valued and empowered. This is our true nature. Once we UNDERSTAND the real source of unpleasant behaviors, we can feel compassion and not take things personally. This compassionate awareness makes it much easier to set boundaries, create balance and help others without harming ourselves.

Our trust in Humanity allows us to ask for help and communicate our needs.  Our faith in our inherent worth means that we can stop over-extending or sacrificing ourselves to justify our existence.

Wishing you many blessings on this journey of self-realization…

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