Further Secrets of Adulthood:
I keep meaning to write an Assay post about this…it’s a deep issue. Do you find this to be true? That sometimes, when people give too much, or go too far out of their way to be helpful or thoughtful, it’s burdensome?
In part, this is because of the extremely strong psychological phenomenon of reciprocation: when someone gives you something or does something for you, you feel you should reciprocate. Reciprocation is why members of the Hare Krishna Society gave flowers to passers-by in airports, and why charities send complimentary address labels when they ask for money.
So sometimes, when someone is giving, we perceive it as an attempt to manipulate us. By giving to us, they make us feel that we must give to them — and maybe we don’t want to.
I touch on this issue in chapter 9 of Happier at Home, if you want more discussion.