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  1. #11
    Senior Member INTJMom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    Read some Nietzsche or Rand for a primer course on the sinister side to pity, generosity, and other supposed acts of "magnanimity".

    Like it or not, generosity does create, as its equal and opposite reaction, indebtedness. This can be used to one's advantage, to exercise control. It's healthy to be aware of this reality.
    This can be true, I agree with you, but I don't believe it is always true.
    When I give, I give with no thought of return.
    Jesus taught to give and not expect return from the person to whom you give.
    I find this quite easy to do.
    St. Paul taught that whatever good I do for someone, God will do for me, so in fact when I give to a person, it is God who is indebted to me, not that person.
    That is MY philosophy of life, anyway.
    I surely can't be the only human on the face of the earth who thinks that way.

    When "generosity" becomes so internalized that one is no longer aware of his use of it as a tool and, in fact, has incorporated it into his very identity, it can be dangerous. ...
    I agree, but it's also possible that person has so internalized it, that he knows he is a person who gives freely with no thought of return or keeping an account.

    This also demonstrates what I will, for the purposes of this post, refer to as "militant generosity": generosity towards others, their desires be damned. "Generosity" has become so internalized that one spreads it like a net, and people who genuinely prefer not to be on the receiving end of it are seen as nothing more than:

    Ask yourself in full honesty: if someone towards whom you'd shown exceptional generosity over a number of years one day began to reject your generosity, would not a part of you think, "You ungrateful son of a bitch"? If he began to exercise self-sufficiency and really began to get his act together, would not a part of you think, "Oh yeah, well, you'd better remember all I did for you in these past years"?

    While these thoughts would not, of course, be representative of your entire conscious self, would they not arise from the same corner of your mind that you could envision conjuring the thought, "How dare you! I own you"?

    While I'm not going to say that generosity is always wrong and to be avoided, it's of the utmost importance to bear in mind the indebtedness it carries with it. Hence I think it is often wise to be wary of people who've lost sight of this to the point of considering themselves "generous by nature".
    I am personally acquainted with what you are saying here. My mother - ISTJ - is an incredibly generous person. She has given me thousands and thousands of dollars over the years. I guess if I felt loved by my mother, it would have come across differently, but whenever she gave me money, I felt controlled by her.

    Her generosity was actually bad for me because I didn't learn the value of a dollar until I was 28 years old! My mother was always bailing me out! And I let her! It took great determination and force of will for my husband and I to stop relying on my mother so much. Her "gift" came with disrespect. She would insult me with "Why don't you get a job?" when I had chosen a simpler life so that I could raise my children. My mother just has different priorities in life than I do.

    If we borrow money from my mom, we make sure we pay back every cent, because she will use it as an excuse to dis us any time she wants to.

    So yeah, I see your point, but not everyone is that way.

  2. #12
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    From what I understand Mycroft to be saying, there are ALWAYS strings and dichotomies attached to EVERYTHING. You may not think the strings exists, you may think you've cut them away, they may be light and spindly or they may be clanking chains, but they're always there. I don't think I can explain that part any better.

    People can make of it what they will, but I keep a log in the back of my mind when I do things for people. It usually doesn't get called to the witness stand, but it's there. Even mythical gods demanded a sacrifice at an altar as some form of payment or atonement for deeds done. Even St. Paul says "you were bought at a price." Worship, praise, blood, money, you rarely ever get something for nothing. I think that when people admit to this, it somehow nullifies the act of generosity or good deed that was done as if it done expecting repayment.

    When I do things for other people, I do it because I sense there is a need and a void that should be filled. I am painfully aware that when people do things for me, while they may not feel like I owe them anything, I feel like I owe them something. I don't like to think that I'm doing this now expecting something later, but I'm rarely that unconscious. Maybe it's just me. Sometimes, I accept what is done at face value; if someone insists on paying for my dinner and they say it's not anything that needs to be repaid, I'll take them at their word. If they really want the favor returned then that's their bad, they shouldn't have extended the offer. This system is always ripe for abuse and who's to say what someone's motivations are? Sometimes I don't care what your motives are, someone needed something and they got it and we'll worry about the consequences later.

    OK, now I'm going to try and keep these posts straight. Substitute, I'm not picking on you or anything , but I want to address this and I think you made a good post that may help shed some light on this issue. I hope I'm not taking this out of context. From the "I'm complicated" thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    But why should it be their decision? Isn't it surely the one thing I do have the right to maintain as solely my decision: who knows what about me and how much I choose to share, when and with whom? See that's the problem sometimes - I get angry because I see the other person as thinking they have some kind of god-given right, or that I have some moral obligation to tell them this stuff that's totally private and none of their business really. And I wonder why the hell they want to know anyway - I don't go around prying and asking people personal questions, or pushing people to 'reveal' things when they're not ready, or putting people in positions where they have to feel like they're the nasty, rude, cagey one for saying they dont want to talk about something, so why do others do it to me? Why can't people just leave others alone and let them decide for themselves how much of themselves they want to share, and live with the consequences?
    I think this strikes at the "militantly generous" idea. Once again, I hope I'm not taking this out of context, but it seems analogic to me that if someone doesn't want your (general you) generosity that it's almost like someone's belief that you're not too complicated for them to try and figure out. I think that you're talking about taking away someone's right to choose if they want to put up with you, just as Mycroft is saying that someone has the right to refuse generosity, even if it's well intended, even if it's beneficial.

    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Doesn't it occur to you though, that there might actually be in the world some good people who just like to do things for/give things to other people, and don't expect, want or need anything tangible back in return?

    Some people are just generous by nature - I know I'm very much so, and it can be very upsetting for me when I know someone who rejects everything I try to do for them, when I can tell it's because they're afraid of being obligated to me. In a way it's like a kick in the guts - it's like saying that even after we've known each other long enough for them to surely know that I'm just generous by nature, and that I'm not the kind of person who goes around calling in favours or counting debts and stuff, that they still treat me as though I'm some asshole who only does things for what's in it for them. Quite insulting really.

    If you've ever experienced pleasure of giving to someone, perhaps a birthday gift or something like that, and experienced how happy it can make you to see them just enjoying the gift and the smile on their face, then you must know that in not allowing other people to feel this, you're actually being quite selfish.
    I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly (very Fe) but I think you answered your own question.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  3. #13
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    From what I understand Mycroft to be saying, there are ALWAYS strings and dichotomies attached to EVERYTHING. You may not think the strings exists, you may think you've cut them away, they may be light and spindly or they may be clanking chains, but they're always there. I don't think I can explain that part any better.
    The simple fact that these 'chains' exist doesn't mean that people will automatically always act on them. I mean what's the alternative? Everyone should learn to be selfish and mean so as not to create the slimmest possibility of anyone being obligated to anyone else, even tenuously - even when it's only in their own heads? That's a very capitalist/individualist standpoint that I just can't go with, being by nature very communalist and a believer in the interdependence of humanity.

    True, as Alexandre Dumas said: "We are never quits with those who oblige us, for when we no longer owe them money, we owe them gratitude." I just don't understand why some people are so averse to being grateful, or indebted to others in any way. Personally I don't mind it at all. If anything I quite like it, because it gives me the opportunity to give back to them, without them having to feel that they're now indebted to me - we're now quits, and everyone's happy! I can think of many reasons why someone wouldn't want to "owe one" to a manipulative, controlling person. But to a person who's proven themselves genuine and benevolent over a period of time, I don't see any reason to be so averse to being in their debt, except if you're also averse to giving yourself.... is it: "I don't want this person to give to me, because then I might feel a need to give back to them, and I don't want to do that because I don't like giving" ??

    I think this strikes at the "militantly generous" idea. Once again, I hope I'm not taking this out of context, but it seems analogic to me that if someone doesn't want your (general you) generosity that it's almost like someone's belief that you're not too complicated for them to try and figure out. I think that you're talking about taking away someone's right to choose if they want to put up with you, just as Mycroft is saying that someone has the right to refuse generosity, even if it's well intended, even if it's beneficial.
    No no, you get me wrong, I have no problem with someone not wanting my help, and I have no problem witholding that help from someone who doesn't want it. I don't hold it against them at all. The controlling kind of "giving" that people are alluding to here is something I'm very well acquainted with, but there is a HUGE distinction between that and what I'm saying. All I'm saying is that I reserve the right to feel (within myself) insulted and a bit offended if the reason that someone refuses my help is SOLELY because they believe that I'll call them on it at sometime in the future - if the sole reason why they decline my help is because they believe I'm the kind of person who will use it as leverage or emotional blackmail, then whilst I acknowledge they have every right to do that, I also feel they should acknowledge my right to feel insulted by that. Especially if it's someone I know well. I'll respect their choice and not push my help on them or make them feel at all guilty, and will not mention it again. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

    If it's because they want to do it themselves, for their sense of independence - fine. If it's because they'd rather manage without - fine. If it's for any other reason, I have zero problem in just saying "fair enough, just thought I'd offer is all". But I don't think I'm being at all unreasonable in saying that I have a right to feel offended if someone who's known me for a period of time to be a genuine person who doesn't go around using or controlling people, refuses help from me that they both want and need, simply because they're suspicious of my motives. Is that so damn hard to understand?

    With regards to witholding details of my background, my inner life and emotions, personal matters, I'd say that you could in all truth be quite right, and that's something I've been working on for many years, but it doesn't just come overnight. A lifetime of being literally beaten up and hurt any time you put your heart out on your sleeve isn't going to just go away because I intellectually agree with the principle of giving people the benefit of the doubt and trusting people not to abuse the information I give them, just as I hope they'd trust my generosity and not think I'm going to abuse their trust in order to manipulate them.

    And Mycroft, I'm sorry things became so 'adversarial' between us here, I didn't intend to offend you and it was probably my fault for starting the insults... though it was only because I sorta felt insulted in the first place by what you said, though you probably didn't intend it that way, but I guess I took it a bit personally cos I've had experiences of this recently and am a bit on the 'raw' side, and I got carried away. Sorry again, hope this doesn't set me and thee against each other from now on!
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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  4. #14
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Doesn't it occur to you though, that there might actually be in the world some good people who just like to do things for/give things to other people, and don't expect, want or need anything tangible back in return?

    Some people are just generous by nature - I know I'm very much so, and it can be very upsetting for me when I know someone who rejects everything I try to do for them, when I can tell it's because they're afraid of being obligated to me. In a way it's like a kick in the guts - it's like saying that even after we've known each other long enough for them to surely know that I'm just generous by nature, and that I'm not the kind of person who goes around calling in favours or counting debts and stuff, that they still treat me as though I'm some asshole who only does things for what's in it for them. Quite insulting really.

    If you've ever experienced pleasure of giving to someone, perhaps a birthday gift or something like that, and experienced how happy it can make you to see them just enjoying the gift and the smile on their face, then you must know that in not allowing other people to feel this, you're actually being quite selfish.
    There are diminishing returns in taking that suspicious angle. I've noticed that the people who give with strings attached also exploit the gifts offered them by demanding more and more. I hate it when generosity gets tangled up with weird control issues. I attempt to simplify. If someone offers a gift without describing the strings that are attached, one can assume there are no strings attached. One can choose to feel no pressure to respond to 'calling in a favor'. If they don't explicitly say they plan to control you with it, then that's off the table. It is each person's responsibility to communicate their expectations, so gifts without communicated expectations should be treated as such. That way only the most controlling people are disappointed with the outcome. Don't punish the sincere for the faults of the control freaks. The easiest thing is to take a direct approach and put the disappointment on the people who have earned it.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  5. #15
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    The easiest thing is to take a direct approach and put the disappointment on the people who have earned it.
    I quite agree... I ask for as many favours as I give, precisely because I'm aware that a lot of people like to keep a 'balance' of obligations. It can get complicated though. Suppose someone I know is broke and their sofa breaks. They can't afford a new sofa. At roughly the same time, I get a new sofa for my apartment, not yet knowing about their situation. Just as I'm about to take my sofa to the tip, someone tells me that X needs a sofa desperately, so I call them up and offer them mine - it's a decent thing and in good condition, I'm only getting rid because it doesn't match my new decor. They're always broke so to them a sofa is a big deal, they think they're in big debt to me if they accept it, even though to me it's just a piece of crap I was about to have destroyed, and they're doing me a favour by taking it off my hands. I sense their unease, so I might mention at the same time that I need someone to re-tile my kitchen for me, since it needs doing and I don't have the time or the skills (or some other odd-job that I know is in line with what they can do or enjoy doing). They offer to do it, and now accept the sofa, happy that something they thought they'd have to go without for a long time has now arrived in their house, the only 'price' being a few hours of tiling a kitchen with refreshments provided by 'the management'

    I would've given them the sofa whether they tiled the kitchen or not; I only asked that favour because I knew that they wouldn't want to be indebted, thereby giving them a way of repaying me for their benefit, not mine. But it is also an added bonus for me that my kitchen gets re-tiled!

    I mean I'm not some annoying Ned Flanders do-goodie type that goes around shoving 'charity' down people's throats. I'm well-known as much for being a serial blagger and freeloader as I am a generous giver. But that's why people don't mind doing stuff for me - it's because they know I'd do the same in return. I live in a deprived area, so most of the people I know in my neighbourhood are usually pretty broke and often unemployed and with time on their hands. I've got plenty of money but little free time, so a balance has just kinda formed whereby I unofficially employ people to do odd jobs for me in return for whatever it is they need in cash or kind. And in the process, we get to know each other and become friends. To me and the people I know this seems like a healthy level of community interdependence. It would seem very strange to most people to try and paint this situation as some kind of negative control/manipulation loop.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
    I will kill you if I must
    I will help you if I can" - Leonard Cohen

  6. #16
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Well, this is a difficult issue. I have to admit that I usually offer people favors because I'm worried about them, but sometimes I can use them against them. For instance, if I'm nice to someone, I don't really expect a favor, so much as I expect them to be trustworthy. In other words, I feel like I can trust them more, because if they do something that would harm me, I can make them feel guilty in addition to withdrawing my friendship. Basically, it's kind of a thing I don't want to have to call in... sort of like we have nuclear weapons, but we really don't want to use them unless we have to. In turn, I accept help from people I trust and care about, because I know that makes them feel more comfortable with me, and I know I wouldn't want to act against them anyway.

    In a worst-case scenario, where both of us had exchanged favors and the other person deliberately acted in a way that was harmful to the interests of a closer friend, I would evaluate the favors the person had done for me, along with their social influence, compared with the favors I had done for them, and the social influence of myself and the friends who were willing to help me against this person. If I have the better position, I'll sever the tie and accept the damage to protect my closer friends. If I don't, then I'll continue the friendship superficially until I see an opportunity to repay enough of the favors, or undermine their influence sufficiently.

    The whole purpose of my behavior, however, is to prevent those kind of scenarios from playing out, as I want things to be tranquil and happy in my friendships. I just try to set things up so that the person will have an incentive not to act against myself or my friends. It's diplomacy.

    I feel badly sometimes about thinking of so many things I could do to protect myself and everything that could go wrong... but I'm so paranoid I can't help it. I think it's got something to do with Ni dominance.

  7. #17
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    Ask yourself in full honesty: if someone towards whom you'd shown exceptional generosity over a number of years one day began to reject your generosity, would not a part of you think, "You ungrateful son of a bitch"? If he began to exercise self-sufficiency and really began to get his act together, would not a part of you think, "Oh yeah, well, you'd better remember all I did for you in these past years"?

    While these thoughts would not, of course, be representative of your entire conscious self, would they not arise from the same corner of your mind that you could envision conjuring the thought, "How dare you! I own you"?
    My... such cynical views people have. I suppose you can say I'm "generous" by nature... I would think it difficult for Fe to be otherwise. If somebody suddenly rejects my "gifts", I doubt I'll get upset. Rather I feel happy that he finally got it. Of course, it helps that "generousity" for me stems from wanting to help people overcome their difficulties. So I think the reason behind your generousity will dictate how you feel.

    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    ETA: I think an NJ would be especially aware of the power balances in this situation. It's not just an NTJ thing IMO.
    *agrees* Although it's one thing to be aware, and quite another to deliberate take advantage of it. I know I can pull strings, but I would never ask for big favors in return unless I desperately needed them. However by saying that, I can't help but think cynically that you gain something by doing that. You can ask them for small favors... numerous number of them. NJs in general are fairly self-sufficient. Those small favors stacks up to more than a big one. But when I'm with people, I don't really think about all that as power plays. Rather I try to make them win win situations so all parties involve benefits. =P

    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    I would've given them the sofa whether they tiled the kitchen or not; I only asked that favour because I knew that they wouldn't want to be indebted, thereby giving them a way of repaying me for their benefit, not mine. But it is also an added bonus for me that my kitchen gets re-tiled!

    I mean I'm not some annoying Ned Flanders do-goodie type that goes around shoving 'charity' down people's throats. I'm well-known as much for being a serial blagger and freeloader as I am a generous giver. But that's why people don't mind doing stuff for me - it's because they know I'd do the same in return. I live in a deprived area, so most of the people I know in my neighbourhood are usually pretty broke and often unemployed and with time on their hands. I've got plenty of money but little free time, so a balance has just kinda formed whereby I unofficially employ people to do odd jobs for me in return for whatever it is they need in cash or kind. And in the process, we get to know each other and become friends. To me and the people I know this seems like a healthy level of community interdependence. It would seem very strange to most people to try and paint this situation as some kind of negative control/manipulation loop.
    Same for me... that's the attitude I use in approach to helping people. But hey, it's sometimes fun to look at it in the other way and see just exactly how much such acts can be viewed as being manipulative. Or take it to the extreme, just imagine how much control you can potentially have over people by being "generous".

  8. #18
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    A viewpoint you find foreign is nothing more than a "convoluted excuse for wanton cynicism"? Ironic, how narrow your definition of open-mindedness has become.
    zzzzzz

    go offer your friends a beer

    Like i think about power balances with friends and girlfriends? I could better shoot myself in the balls than having to think about every action I do

    You people all think too much sometimes, in the long run we're all dead.

  9. #19
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    zzzzzz

    go offer your friends a beer

    Like i think about power balances with friends and girlfriends? I could better shoot myself in the balls than having to think about every action I do

    You people all think too much sometimes, in the long run we're all dead.


    ENTJ's!

    You know my problem? I try too hard to explain things that in reality I don't think about that much. I just 'live' too. Which is why my 'explanations' are usually pretty off-the-cuff and full of holes... which I then dig myself in deeper later by trying to explain those too, when I should just STFU
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
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    I will help you if I can" - Leonard Cohen

  10. #20
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post


    ENTJ's!

    You know my problem? I try too hard to explain things that in reality I don't think about that much. I just 'live' too. Which is why my 'explanations' are usually pretty off-the-cuff and full of holes... which I then dig myself in deeper later by trying to explain those too, when I should just STFU
    Yeah really I don't feel the need anymore to explain myself to people that say we should be wary of giving things to other, we should treat women bad to make them fall in love with us, we should check the trustworthiness of everybody before trusting them, we should use the helmet while biking downhill...:steam: :steam: :steam: :steam: :steam:

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