Dawn Gets Selfish… But Not Greedy

21 10 2013

greedy little boy with appleToday, I need to be selfish.

Not the kind of selfish that involves stealing toddlers’ toys or hogging the pie. I’m talking about a “selfish” that is founded on asking for what I’ve legitimately earned, and rationally expecting to receive it.

As a business owner, when you complete a service, you ask for and receive payment. Entirely reasonable, right?

But for some reason, in our personal lives, it can feel mighty uncomfortable – selfish even – to expect “payment” for a good deed done. For example, you took over dinner duties so that a tired spouse could rest. You didn’t do it for gratitude or leverage. You did it as a quietly meaningful show of support for a person you love.


It would be “socially inappropriate” to request a ‘thanks!’ every time you acted generously. But… how many domestic arguments start from failure to express gratitude? Tell me if this sounds familiar…

“You don’t appreciate me!”

Uh-huh. What that partner is actually saying is “I feel like I’m doing all of these generous things for you, and you’re not acknowledging the thought, time, and effort I’ve invested to make those things happen.”

And they’re typically right. ALL of us take certain things for granted – some more often than others. We don’t fail to show appreciation out of malice; rather, out of habit.

(For any concerned parties, this is not a reflection of my own marital relationship. My husband’s a keeper!)


So, who’s actually at fault? Spouse B for not thinking to express gratitude? Or Spouse A for not setting an expectation of when and what sort of gratitude they would like expressed?

‘Fault’ is probably the wrong word. ‘Responsible’ would be more appropriate here. Because Spouse B was most likely acting out of habit, and legitimately didn’t realize they were taking Spouse A’s actions for granted. And Spouse A was operating under the very real societal pressures that tell us that asking for appreciation is wrong (which moral stance, incidentally, is a titanic bunch of baloney.) Like anything repressed, that kind of hurt is bound to erupt sooner or later, and in direct proportion to the length of time it has been bottled up.


So, in the scenario above, I’d say there’s a relatively equal balance of responsibility.

There will be times when you don’t WANT gratitude – when the pleasure of doing something generous was its own reward. And that is okay.

BUT, there will also be times when your genuine kindness needs to come at the price of genuine appreciation. THAT IS OKAY, TOO. Do NOT be afraid to ask for something you have earned.

Understand, though, that there are two parties to consider. If your ‘kindness’ is unasked for, unwanted, and unwarranted, you’ve just lost your right to request payment.

On the other side of the table, the recipient has a responsibility to remove the blindfold and SEE the kindnesses for what they are. If gratitude is warranted, then share the love.


So, let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is…

Once upon a time, this blog was a marketing tool. With the shifting of my career goals, that purpose has long been defunct, and it is now simply a hobby and my gift to you – the fruits of my ponderings.

In reading my posts, you’ve already acknowledged that they have some value to you. That, in and of itself, is a small note of thanks.

But today… today I am asking you for a more substantive show of appreciation – specifically, a comment on this post (click the link next to “Comments:” at the bottom of this post), an email, or a phone call with anything from a quick “thanks!” to a note on how something I’ve written has impacted you.

If you’ve benefited from this blog, than I hope that you will see this as a reasonable and fun way to ‘remit payment’!

To those who’ve supported me with gratitude all along the way, you have been my muses. Thank YOU!

“’Gratitude’: A lively sense of future benefit.”  ~ A French Definition

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

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