I had an experience that reminded me of my grandmother. About two weeks ago I was buried up to my eyeballs in work when a dry throat and thirst prompted me to take a break. I decided to pause briefly to get myself some tea (a new habit am cultivating) when someone stopped by to say hello. She was heading in the same direction as I intended (the kitchen) when I thought to myself, 'why not ask her to bring you some hot water, that way you can get through some of this stuff burying you'. Now I am not in the habit of asking however I have learnt over the years that there is no harm in asking for assistance because if you do not ask, you’re not likely to get help, besides I thought, I am not asking for anything I cannot do myself. If she says yes, I am blessed; if she says no I am equally as blessed because I can get up and fetch it myself'. As far as I was concerned the person was more than welcomed to say no which would not have offended me in the least as I was, as I stated before capable of doing it myself. I didn't have anything to lose really, so I asked…
“Hi, are you going to the kitchen?”
She responded, “Yes I am, can I get you something?”
“Oh yes thank you, some hot water please, do you mind?” I held my teapot out quarter of the way between us poised to pull back in the event she said no.
“No, I don’t mind,” she said.
I handed her my little teapot and off she went. A few minutes later she came back with my teapot filled with hot water. At the door just before she could enter to hand me the teapot of water, she met a few more people by my door (it gets pretty busy which is why I close my door so I can get some work done) who had also stop by to say hello. She handed me the teapot fill with hot water for which I thanked her graciously then to my surprise she proceeded to tell the person standing by the door……
“You see what she have me doing, bringing her hot water, you see how nice I am. I got her a pot of hot water.”
Normally I would have let such a comment pass without acknowledgement but I remembered a few days before the same person was making similar statements about others (which I had recommended she address with the parties involved as i don’t engage in idle gossip) and I realized in that moment, that the kindness was not a genuine kindness but rather a tool by which this person uses to garner attention for performing good deeds. I decided to use the opportunity to put her on notice and perhaps in the interim make her a little conscious of her actions. I stated very calmly and concisely to bring attention to her so-called kindness…
“My grandmother always said, when you perform an act of kindness it is not something you go about advertising to everyone or anyone that will listen in hopes of seeking validation for a good deed performed. If you did not want to bring me the hot water you could have simply said no. I am not offended by the word NO nor would I have been hurt as I was quite capable of getting the water myself I was just so buried under work that I ask you since you were on your way to the kitchen. Had I known it would have been an issue I would not have asked.”
I guess she was embarrassed that I put the spotlight directly on her behaviour in front of the very people she was relaying the tale of "kindness" to because she started stuttering and half laughing, half clearing her throat saying…
“oh, haha, ah… I was only joking.” And she left.
Honour yourself, if you do not want to do something for someone when asked then say no and don’t do it. Do not say yes and then go around complaining about all your have done to anyone that will listen. By doing so you are further dishonouring yourself in addition to leaving a bad after taste/impression about the content of your character.
Though momentarily irritated I was glad for the experience (it was enlightening) because in that moment together with the prior experiences she taught me a bit about who she is. This information has made me socially wiser and it has allowed me to set my boundaries as far as she is concerned. Lesson noted and learnt, I was not upset about the incident, just thankful because 'actions speak so much louder than words'.
Think before you say yes, and consider yourself in all things.