I often hear people say that it is good that people receive the help they need, and it doesn't matter what the purpose of the giver was, as long as the receiver got what they needed.
I don't know if I agree with that.
I feel that for people on the path of personal development and growth, it is essential to have self-awareness and to understand one's motives for whatever we are doing as knowing our purpose plays a significant role in our growth as well. It helps us to understand self, to enable us to see the shadow aspects (good or bad) surfacing through our unconscious self.
I remember when I used to volunteer at a hospice and at the time I was still relatively young in the area of energy healing work. So I thought it would be a perfect idea to do it for practice as a volunteer. I knew to go in, why I was doing it - It was purely for selfish reasons. I was there to use the old folks as test subjects. And I was confident that the more I practised, the more they were going to benefit from it.
On the surface level, it looked like it was kindness but I was there to practice.
As I started doing the energy work on a weekly basis, I realised that energy work might not necessarily be the right thing for hospice patients. So I changed the service I was providing to just foot massages. The patients at the hospice day care looked forward to the weekly Touch Therapy. They would all come in their wheelchairs, and they all just wanted someone to speak to. So as I was doing the foot massages and communicating with them, I realised after a period that I was no longer doing it for myself. Sometimes I would find it difficult to go, but I made myself go because I knew that it was a special afternoon for them. I became one of the patient's confidantes as she didn't have family and she would pour her heart out to me. She has since passed on, and I am glad that she is in a better space now.
Over time, I realised my intent for being a volunteer transformed.
We practice kindness towards people as much as we can and even if we volunteer to do something without the expectation of anything back in return, we genuinely would like the other party to benefit from what we have shared. We strive to give without any expectations of anything back, not even recognition.
I have always believed that if you are doing something for someone and expecting something back in return you are not doing kindness, you are doing business.
When we expect something back when we expect an exchange we are truly doing business. Whether the return to us is some kind of glory or recognition or something intangible, it is just business and no longer about kindness anymore.
We have all seen this: where people volunteer their time to organisations/charities/institutions to exercise some form of power. Usually, it's because they have not experienced any leadership roles or they have never been in positions of power. So they offer their time for self-gratification, or they do it to gain some self-esteem - not all wrong.
The problem with this is they do not even realise their underlying intent. They still believe in the superficial reason that they are there to offer kindness. This is how politics in charity happens! If we give with expectations, be honest about it (at least to ourselves), then the giving has a more definite purpose with no hidden agendas, and we know it will not come back to bite us.
So I hope that this little sharing is useful for you, especially during these turbulent times when there are plenty of opportunities for giving. Whatever purpose you have in your giving, be sure of its intent, and you will be able to multiply it many folds.
© Shamala Tan 2018, 2022
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Shamala Tan is an author, spiritual entrepreneur and healer. Her work focuses on transforming the lives of others on the spiritual, emotional, mental and earthly levels.
Shamala’s clients include small business owners, holistic practitioners as well as those seeking to find more significant meaning and value in life. Shamala offers laser coaching to her clients on a one-to-one basis or in a group environment, offline as well as online.