There’s something that’s been on my mind for the past few months, something that has made me constantly second guess my own intentions. I’ve said many times over that I believe in the inherent good of all people, myself included. Regardless of our upbringing, our monetary income, etc., we all have the capacity to do good works. Whether we actually act on those good impulses are our own choosing, but the point is that potential is there.
So…good is directed outward, correct? To be what most consider “good,” we have to work for the benefit of others, not just ourselves. There is self-care and rest for our own bodies and minds, sure, but if someone does a “good deed” it’s meant for somebody or something other than themselves.
This is what has been discouraging me lately – I’m not entirely sure that I do what is “good.” I believe I’m a nice person, who treats everyone fairly and goes out of his way to help others quite a bit. I’d like to think that my blog posts are helping at least a few people get by, and writing words of encouragement on others’ blogs is helping them as well. I’m fairly certain I’m kind to others, whether it be at home, work, or elsewhere. But am I doing these “good” things for others, or for myself?
I feel satisfaction when I’m good to others – but not the kind of satisfaction I want to feel. It’s a perverse kind, like a mental pat on the back, saying to myself, “I’m good because I did this thing.” Almost as if…this “good” I’m doing isn’t for the benefit of others, but instead for self-validation; something to make me feel better about myself – the happiness others receive from me being good isn’t necessary, but a side-benefit to my own satisfaction. I don’t like this feeling. At all.
As a Christian, I live my life for God, and Him alone. Everything I do is in His name, I tell myself. The book of words I try my best to live my life by directly says be good to others before being good to yourself. But when I have this lurking feeling that everything I do may be for my own happiness, it’s more unnerving than you may think. Even for non-Christians, I don’t think an instinct that everything you do may be for yourself can’t feel that great, either.
I’m not saying I’m bad – I’m not bad. I know that. I’m just not sure I’m “good.” Or, if I am good, is it a “side-effect” of fulfilling my own need for self-validation? I can do all of these good things and say all of these good words, but if, in the end, it’s for my own contentment, does it really count?
Do you struggle with this, or is it just me? Or does everybody, and do I just need to suck it up and accept it for what it is? Is this some weird side-effect of my depression? I don’t know. Advice would be appreciated.