The saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”, came to me last night in a conversation I was having about a past, shall we say, spat, I had experienced with someone.
There are SO many sayings that are so á pro pos to that situation. I’ll be scrolling along Facebook and those inspirational memes or quotes will pass by. It seems like all of them fit so perfectly with that past kerfuffle.
I always hesitate before “liking” any of them, almost kind of resenting the possibility that the universe knows what’s up and is subliminally trying to teach me a lesson.
For instance, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”, or “Kill them with kindness.”, or “The worst distance between two people is misunderstanding.”, “Hurt people, hurt people.”
I end up “liking” them, anyhow.
This one saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”, is the kicker. It came to me, on it’s own, no internet meme, no advice blog, no conspiring universe.
I don’t want to divulge the backstory because #1 it’s personal and #2 it’s in the past. What’s important now is what I have learned from it.
I thought I had learned everything I could from this episode but still felt like I missed something important.
I don’t know if this happens to most people but, when I am accused of something, I immediately feel guilty, even when I am innocent. You tend to oversell your innocence which in turn, of course, makes you look even more guilty.
Mother: “Did you break this plate?!”
Little Af: “No! I swear I didn’t! Look I’ll show you all the reasons why I’m innocent! Oh my gosh how can I prove to you that I didn’t break that plate?! I’m so sorry!! Please believe me! Here, I’ll reenact my whole day so you can see how I couldn’t possibly have done it.”
(actual account - details may have been blurred)
I’ve been this way my whole life but have recognized I do this and have tried to remedy it by not “overselling” it.
Here’s another gem…
Sister: (playing cards) “You’re cheating! You’re a cheater pan! Cheater pan! Cheater pan! I’m telling!”
Little Af: “No I’m not!! I swear!” (etc. etc. etc…..ad naseum resulting in innocent guilt.)
Part of this is the result of being empathetic, almost to a fault. Sometimes, being so empathetic makes you forget who you are. You can carry someone else’s burdens, guilt, hurt, and all around negative energy. Also, we have a defense mechanism that wants to protect our integrity. Being accused of something is incredibly scary, especially if you’re innocent. Think of all the horrible stories of the wrongly accused. It’s awful.
It occurred to me last night that in this past, let’s call it a, “tempest in a teapot”, I was experiencing this, yet again.
My goal was to show compassion, empathy (didn’t have to show that, cause I couldn’t help but feel it), and understanding. In turn, I “woke the sleeping dogs”. (Insert saying, “If they’re cruel, they haven’t healed”).
[In my head] “Ok. Understood. I’m cool. No really. I’m cool. Don’t feel guilty! Accusations are not truth! No no no, stop it. You know the truth. You’re reacting, not responding…. But don’t respond! No! Don’t do it. Just let it go. Your anger looks like guilt. OMG you’re so guilty. What were you thinking?! How dare them?! You must respond. State your case. State your innocence!”
My good deed turned into a punishment. A trial and a verdict of guilt.
So, what’s the point of this post? Learn the lesson. As cliché as these sayings are, they are SO true. Though many of us are the “touch the hot stove” kind of people, myself included.
What I’ve learned….
Sometimes your silence says more than your words ever will. In with anger, out with love. What I said did not need to be said by me.
Though, I must stand by my actions for they were good intentioned. I may have been punished for my deeds, but rather have the guilt of a good deed than the guilt of a bad one.
There is no such thing as a selfless act. Maybe we can try though.