Why I Give Without Expectations (and Don’t Think It’s a “Toxic Trait”)


“Some of the kindest souls I know have lived in a world that was not so kind to them. Some of the best human beings I know have been through so much at the hands of others, and they still love deeply, they still care. Sometimes, it’s the people who have been hurt the most who refuse to be hardened in this world, because they would never want to make another person feel the same way they have felt. If that isn’t something to be in awe of, I don’t know what is.” ~Bianca Sparacino  

I recently came across a meme that implied that helping someone who would not do the same for you is a “toxic trait.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this meme.

At first, I could totally relate to this; it doesn’t seem fair to give of yourself, your valuable time and resources, to individuals who wouldn’t be bothered to ever do the same in return.

But then I dove a little deeper into that thought.

Friends and family in my own life have accused me of having this “toxic trait,” especially regarding how I help people who have been unkind to me; people who have cheated on or wronged me.

While it’s certainly true, on the surface, and a lot of us are probably “guilty” of giving more than we receive or giving to people who, as illustrated, “wouldn’t do the same” for us, I don’t consider this to be a toxic trait, in the worst sense.

Let me tell you why…

When my ex-husband, a man who has arguably caused the most pain and upheaval in my life and in the lives of my children and family, comes to me with a need, most everyone around me encourages me to dismiss it out of spite or “karmic balance.”

But when I don’t, and instead help when I can, they get angry with me or seem disappointed, as though I have wasted myself and my time on someone unworthy of it.

I used to have this little cross-stitch hanging on my wall that read “People who need love the most deserve it the least.” That’s always stuck with me. Best $1.50 I ever spent at a thrift shop for home décor.

All of us, at some point in time (maybe once, maybe on more than one occasion), have been the person “who would not do the same,” the unworthy one.

Let’s be honest, even the most philanthropic of us can be choosy sometimes with who we give our time, attention, money, and energy to. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, to be considerate of where you spend those treasures.

But my guess is that we all have benefitted from the kindness of someone we wouldn’t necessarily return the kindness to. But maybe we paid it forward to someone else.

If we’re living a decent life, the number of those instances will be small.

But they’re still not zero.

So when we give of ourselves, maybe unknowingly—but even better, with the knowledge that it will not come back to us—we are making a choice to give purely.

Does it sometimes drain us? Yes. And that’s certainly an aspect that needs attention; to replenish oneself in order to give is important.

But is it a toxic trait to be good to someone without the expectation of getting anything in return?

Some of history’s greatest and most outstanding human beings have done just that. Mother Theresa comes to mind, for instance.

I don’t buy into the narrative that giving is toxic, nor is giving to someone who wouldn’t do the same for you.

Genuine, truthful, selfless kindness, that’s what this world needs a little more of—with the understanding that those who are giving need to take time to replenish themselves when necessary. To help without conditions, but rather in love and compassion; that’s the type of person I am trying to make a conscious effort to be.

We should definitely take time to reboot and fill our cups back up when we need to, absolutely. But no one should be faulted for trying to do better, to be bigger, for taking the high road.

We should all be encouraged to do so.

About Cori Skall

Cori Skall is a single mom of four fantastic kids. She works as a radio host, sharing stories and music with audiences in her home state of Maine, and around the globe on radio stations, I-95 Rocks and Z107.3. She hopes, through sharing her life experiences, others might find some strength and hope, or at the very least a moment of entertainment and a smile to get them through their day.

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