Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Regarding The Burden Of Gratitude

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By Gary Miller

In the course of our lives, we all owe something to someone. There are always some positive influences that enhance our state of being. This may make us wholeheartedly thankful. It also may make us feel that we are carrying 'the burden of gratitude.'

It's easy to misjudge others. Since no one truly knows the hidden nature of another person, it pays to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Still, we all know the feeling of being maneuvered into something, and few of us enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, sometimes a giver of gifts has an agenda beyond making the recipient of their kindness happy.

People are also perfectly capable of feeling two or more emotions at the same time. We may act one way while at the same time harboring feelings of indecision, frustration, resentment - the list is endless. We can be truly grateful but also resent the necessity of being so.

Maybe a parent has done something especially generous. Perhaps a coworker has praised us to a manager or selected us for a task force. This is fine if the gesture is sincere, freely given, and final. If something is demanded in return, now or later, then we may decide the price is too big to pay or that the 'gift' is a booby trap.

If a coworker does you a favor and then expects something in return, you may wish the whole thing had never happened. Sometimes a person is really trying to put you under an obligation rather than doing you a good turn. If they expect some kind of collusion from you that you feel is unprofessional or even dishonest, it can be a real problem. You will have to choose who you will be loyal to, your 'friend' or your employer.

If a fellow employee does us a favor, he or she may have a right to expect something in return. If their expectations are reasonable, an exchange of favors can strengthen the working relationship. However, if the coworker demands silence about improper procedures or wants a unearned commendation, this makes the 'debt' we owe onerous and maybe even dangerous.

In cases like this, we may not even feel grateful. However, the real question is how to deal with a situation. We can control our own reactions if we are mature, free, and able to reason things out. The debt may spur us to actions that benefit the other party. As long as we can do this honestly, this is a good thing. Many people take such an obligation as an incentive to visit more often, remember to give credit where credit is due, to pray for others, or to 'pay it forward'.

Of course, being in the wrong (however slightly) doesn't mean you feel any better about the situation. You may have to put up with the imposition of gratitude, if the relationship is important to you or your job depends on it. Otherwise, you might be able to change the dynamics (change jobs or move out of state) to make sure you won't have to endure this again.

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