GOOD REASONS FOR NOT GIVING?
Then you have those that feel good about not giving by creating obstacles and excuses such as convincing themselves that all organizations that help others are swindlers or somehow unethical or when I make a lot of money I plane on giving or I wish I had the money to travel round the world to help others.” While we respect people’s personal financial situations and aspirations we have heard these remarks many times during dinner while these people consume very expensive meals and cocktails, and are living a consumer life style of shopping or taking expensive vacations from businesses and corporations that are master swindlers.
We (Keema and Rob) have seen people on this hedonic treadmill of giving many times when people asked to come out with us to feed the homeless in our community. Once they participate, get their bragging rights, post on social media, are praised by family and friends, resulting in their feel good oxytocin and dopamine fix they do not return to help again and chase after another external stimuli for their biological high somewhere else, of course these people always have a good excuse for not returning to help. This may be why nonprofit organization have such a challenge maintaining funding or support, or why we hear people say “when I was volunteering or donating I felt so much better about myself, I need to get back to it.” What they are really saying is “I need another oxytocin and dopamine fix.”
This is a very important topic for many people are unaware of what is referred to as selfish giving and give selfishly and don’t know it. What appears at first to be caring and giving can be very illusive. Tax write offs, acknowledgements, praise, Public relations many people give for many reasons but most of all our society teaches us to give and expect something back and once we get what we want we no longer give until there is another benefit we can receive. Experts call this selfish giving, this is a paradox for while the motive to give may be self-fulling in many cases it does benefit the receiver.
“Once you put your self-identity into giving or helping others to the point of relying on it to feel good about yourself it is no longer about helping and giving unconditionally, it’s all about you and your hedonic treadmill of selfish giving.”
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That said, selfish giving not only unbalances our unified filed with selfishness but can also become a subconscious psychological addiction. As the previous videos pointed out the giver gets a biological high off of the release of the feel good hormones or neurotransmitters oxytocin and dopamine that is release by the brains “reward system” when they receive acknowledgements, praise, tax write offs or even while they are doing voluntary work or giving. This is the same reward system that is activated when taking addictive drugs such as methamphetamines or heroin. But like most drugs the feel good hormone high wares off that is until people either give again to feel good about themselves or receive what they are wanting or needing out of giving or helping others than they withdraw again repeating the cycle. This repetitive subconscious epigenetic addiction is referred to by phycologist as the hedonic treadmill (see related topics).
But one of the most commonly heard excuses is when someone takes the position that they do not help or give to intoxicated street people because they will “just us the money to buy drugs or alcohol.” Our humble perspective on this is that people that believe this are implying that their giving and helping others is only under their conditions that they need to get something back by being assured that the person they are giving to is not under the influence or will not use the money to buy drugs or alcohol which is conditional therefore “selfish-giving.”
Make no mistake we are not making excuses for those that are abusing drugs or alcohol but there is another consideration. In today’s high cost of healthcare where people are forced into selling their homes, using their life savings just to survive a major illness could it be possible that the drug or alcohol is helping that person to cope with the pain and suffering of an illness? In fact as the adjacent CNN/60 Minute investigation video shows could the homeless person that is under the influence to medicate their suffering be a victim of patient dumping?
"You should just be generous to be generous. You should do what's right because it's right, not because of what you get back." - Richard Weissbourd Harvard's Graduate School of Education
“It was reported that hospitals refused medical care to an estimated 250,000 patients annually because they were uninsured or lacked the ability to pay.” – Patient Dumping - U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Now make no mistake there is certainly nothing wrong with oxytocin and dopamine or feeling good about oneself and what you do for others but once you put your self-identity into any external life situation or stimuli in this case giving or helping to the point of expecting something back or relying on it to “feel good about yourself” it is no longer about helping and giving to others unconditionally, it’s all about you and your addictive hedonic treadmill of selfish giving.
“The most truly generous persons are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.”
― Carol Ryrie Brink 1895-1981
Patient dumping by hospitals around the world has become a major problem as they dump people that are in pain with catastrophic illnesses that cannot afford healthcare insurance on the streets and in many third world country’s people have no healthcare options at all and live on the streets with physical pain and suffering. But what is more important is that the universe is a universe of infinite possibilities that changes by the moment, who are we to pass egoic judgments upon those less fortunate partially being that we are part of that universe of infinite possibilities that can change at any moment that can leave us being less fortunate.
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
― Kahlil Gibran, 1833-1931
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Keema and Rob feeding the homeless