Clarity of knowing I am doing it for myself, and all is OK

In both giving and receiving any form of help, I notice how much difference it makes to be clear about two simple things.

First, that I am already doing it for myself. And then, that all is OK as is.

And these two can easily co-exist with the everyday appearance of helping someone, and also inviting in certain shifts to help alleviate suffering and finding joy.

When I am clear that I am doing it for myself, I don’t expect anything from the other person. He or she is off the hook. They are free to follow their own process instead of trying to figure out how to satisfy me.

And when I recognize that all is OK as is, I don’t get caught up in – and blinded – by shoulds.

The reverse is also true. When I think I am doing it for someone else, I create an expectation or demand on the other person. I want he or she to benefit. I may even want that person’s appreciation and approval. And if they don’t benefit, or don’t show appreciation, I take it personal. The same is true when I get caught up in any stories about the situation, creating shoulds and friction with reality. It gets messy fast.

So how can I work with this?

I can find my intentions, trace them back, and find what they really are about. When I clarify them this way, I find that I am doing it for myself. (See previous posts for examples.)

And I can investigate any beliefs I have about the situation and find what is more true for me, including the grain of truth in their reversals. In this way, I get a sense of the inherent neutrality of the situation, and an appreciation of whatever happens.



  • helping situation/profession
    • clear, doing it for myself
    • give info, lay of the terrain + know it is all OK as is
    • effects
      • help myself and the other, less pressure on both of us, more clarity, more aligned with truth (space for whatever wants/needs to happen to happen)
    • otherwise
      • if think I do it for the other person, put a requirement/demand on them (to get well, benefit from it etc.)
      • if don’t recognize it all as neutral, then get caught up in my own beliefs around it – get caught up in shoulds, good/bad and so on
    • practical
      • trace back intention, clarify, what is it really about?
      • explore beliefs including truth in reversals


A less focused first draft…

It is something I notice in doing bodywork, and also in daily life.

When I (think I) do something for someone else, I put a demand on them. I hope they will feel better, get well and so on, and if they don’t I’ll get (make myself) disappointed. So I put a pressure on them, a demand. I require them to feel or respond a certain way so I can be (make myself) satisfied or happy. The other person picks it up, even if it is not said, and it may create a tense and convoluted situation. For instance, in bodywork it tends to bring up some resistance in the recipient, and it makes it difficult for the recipient to be receptive. This is all so common in our culture (and probably in other cultures as well), that we don’t always notice.

Exploring this a little further, I see that I am already doing it for myself. I may tell myself I am doing it for someone else, with the best of intentions – so they can feel good, get well, have a happy life – but I see that I am really doing it for myself. I am doing it so they will accept me and approve of me. (And also because it naturally makes me happy to see someone else happy, but that tends to get clouded over by the need for approval.)

So when I tell myself I am doing it for someone else, I am putting a demand on them. I am looking for acceptance from them, through a long and precarious journey where many things need to fall in place and I cannot really control any of them. And it all makes for an uncomfortable situation.

Instead, I can clarify my intentions. I can see that I am already doing it for myself. I am doing it – among other things – to get their approval and acceptance. So I can instead give that acceptance to myself. And in not needing anything from them, I am free to notice other reasons why I am doing it for myself. I do it because there is a natural joy in living – as best as I can – in a way that supports life.

In bodywork, this allows the recipient to have their own experience. To stay with their experience. It gives space to whatever wants to happen to happen.

And this goes for all relationships. As soon as I think I am doing something for someone else, I put a demand on them, and I am looking for something from them they may or may not give me. And as soon as I clarify my intention, I see I am already doing it for myself, I can give myself what I am looking for, and I realize other reasons why I am doing it for myself, including the joy of life giving to life.


When I tell myself I am doing something for others,


  • doing it for…
    • for others – an expectation, hope, demand (pressure)
    • for myself, more clear, see that already am doing it for myself
    • also, when do for others, do it partly to get approval/acceptance

Initial outline…

  • bodywork
    • want to do something for the recipient = demand (pressure on them to feel good, get well, etc.)
    • and do it for their approval, acceptance
    • so why not give it to myself (instead of going on that long and precarious journey, as Byron Katie points out)
      • am already doing it for myself, so why not take the consequences of it, be honest about it
      • and want to get it from others when I can give it to myself
      • do it for my own sake + without needing anything from the other, give them space to have their own experience

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