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Thread: "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"

  1. #1
    kodak
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    "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"

    What does this phrase mean to you? If you learned its truth thru experience, share the experience....

    I was talking to a friend who had never heard that expression before. After I explained some various interpretations to him, he basically reacted as if that were proof that one shouldn't do good deeds. What do you think?
    Last edited by kodak; 03-26-2010 at 05:42 PM.

  2. #2
    scared and alone
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    I think it can mean a lot of things. I hate that when I try to do something good or help someone out and they don't give a crap or don't even say thank you or even get an attitude. Um, i'm trying to help YOU out out of the goodness of my heart, don't be a freaking jerk.

  3. #3
    kodak
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    lol, I know what you mean. I once took care of a dying exbf's parent for a few months -- a scary, stressful, unusual emotional sad, interesting, life-affirming experience -- and at the end of it all the father gave me a check (a small amt of $) saying that he didn't want to feel like he owed me anything and would rather turn this into a business transaction than keep it an emotionally-charged shared experience. (That wasn't the only "punishment" I received from that experience, but it was still like a little slap in the face.)

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    Samedy
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    When I hear this, I think about the last place I worked. If you were a cooperative person, who works hard, and gets things done, the consequence is you get more work and get the more difficult tasks. Whereas if you are a difficult employee (calling in sick when you don't like the schedule, causing problems when things don't go your way), you tend to get what you want and get less work...

  5. #5
    tiredofvampires
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    Quote Originally Posted by kodak
    saying that he didn't want to feel like he owed me anything and would rather turn this into a business transaction than keep it an emotionally-charged shared experience. (That wasn't the only "punishment" I received from that experience, but it was still like a little slap in the face.)
    OUCH. That's a pretty hard buzzkill.

    I've had many an experience, like you've described, kodak. Ones I'd describe as scary, stressful, unusually emotionally sad, interesting, life-affirming, and for me, illuminating (including the caring for a dying exbf's parent, only there was no money offered to me, thank god) where the OP's saying could have applied. But the way I see it is...the only one who is punished is the person who takes others' goodness for granted in the end. I am a firm believer in karma, and for this reason, it's like putting money in a bank account to slowly accumulate, and I may not see the results of that "investment" until much later, or maybe in ways I never expected (and could be totally unrelated). And they may not be the stuff of Hollywood, but of very quiet revelations. It may have nothing to do with the "good deed" that I felt wasn't "rewarded", but rather "punished." Good deeds are gambles in the short term, but in the long term....they make me more of what I want to be, and I would prefer to keep trying to be what I'd like to be (and see) in a more rewarding, better world.

    I guess for me it's a kind of defiance in a way, too...if bad responses to me make me stop trying to do anything good, then other people are in control of me, I'm not in control of what kind of person I am. I don't wish to be determined or manipulated this way. "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em" is not my motto.

    In the short term, though, it can really blow, yes. The ego wants its day. Everyone wants appreciation. Everyone wants to know that having faith in something good isn't a thankless proposal.
    Last edited by tiredofvampires; 03-24-2010 at 02:55 PM.

  6. #6
    hexaemeron

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    I've actually said this to both of my long-term live-in boyfriends (the current one, and the one before him) -- Both of them had issues finding work, contributing financially. Both basically became hermits and isolated themselves in video games, gained a huge amount of weight and blamed me for not being an active enough role in their lives to prevent them from becoming heavy shut ins.

    Yeah, so sorry I was the only one working and providing, commuting two hours each way, coming home to nasty, mean, passive-aggressive people too riddled with their own issues to take care of themselves for even one day.

    But, you know, the tens of thousands of dollars I spent providing for them. That's my fault too, apparently.

    Still a bit of a sore topic for me.

  7. #7
    tiredofvampires
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    Quote Originally Posted by hexaemeron [Register to see the link]
    I've actually said this to both of my long-term live-in boyfriends (the current one, and the one before him) -- Both of them had issues finding work, contributing financially. Both basically became hermits and isolated themselves in video games, gained a huge amount of weight and blamed me for not being an active enough role in their lives to prevent them from becoming heavy shut ins.

    Yeah, so sorry I was the only one working and providing, commuting two hours each way, coming home to nasty, mean, passive-aggressive people too riddled with their own issues to take care of themselves for even one day.

    But, you know, the tens of thousands of dollars I spent providing for them. That's my fault too, apparently.

    Still a bit of a sore topic for me.
    My longest relationship was with a guy a lot like this. I wasn't supporting him financially but I felt emotionally that I was constantly picking up the pieces and cleaning up the messes. It's just an awful, awful, toxic and dysfunctional way to live.

    So I'd differentiate between a toxic imbalance of power and contribution and support in a relationship, with doing good deeds and being punished. Even though your heart was definitely in the right place and you hoped it would pan out. Been there, myself.

    But sometimes the line is pretty thin, I grant you that. It comes down to how much give-and-take a particular relationship requires, I think. Some require reciprocity more than others, and sometimes it's more palatable/acceptable to think of never being reciprocated in a direct fashion. One has to be very aware of one's boundaries and motives and expectations in the doing, as well as the nature of the relationship demanding such things.
    Last edited by tiredofvampires; 03-24-2010 at 03:14 PM.

  8. #8
    DirectDingo
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    Such a negative way to think. Karma always comes back around. Sometimes we don't see the effects of our actions, quite often in fact. The truth is a lot of things go on that we have no understanding or knowledge of. "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy."

    You just need to take the good from whatever you did and walk away. By being bitter, cynical or negative about the good things you've done for people, you're effectively killing off the positive and turning it into something negative. Truth is, if everyone thought this way, there'd be no room for good in society. You carry that negativity around with you and the only person it hurts is you.

    If you want to be seen as a cynical pessimist, then this kind of philosophy might work for you. In my opinion it's not a nice way to be, or to think. Everything happens for a reason. There are good things in this world and if you don't believe it then it's you who loses out.

  9. #9
    Celadon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samedy [Register to see the link]
    When I hear this, I think about the last place I worked. If you were a cooperative person, who works hard, and gets things done, the consequence is you get more work and get the more difficult tasks. Whereas if you are a difficult employee (calling in sick when you don't like the schedule, causing problems when things don't go your way), you tend to get what you want and get less work...
    ^ Yes, this. The phrase to me refers to a necessarily cynical outlook born of circumstances that are at best unfair and at worst completely opposite what they should be.

    It's like when you take responsibility to get make a situation better and then something goes wrong and everyone gets mad at you -- even though they didn't lift a finger to help in the first place. It's just wrong, wrong, wrong.

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