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carrot sprite

Unavoidable Selfishness

35 posts in this topic

It appears that everything anyone does is never completely unselfish. Acts of giving make you feel good about yourself. When you love someone with all your heart and you would do anything for them, even if it hurts yourself, it is since you would feel worse off if you didn't do it.

When you give, and don't expect to receive in return, you are still receiving a feeling of goodwill from yourself. Nothing you do is ever completely about someone else, since you are always there. This is unavoidable.

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It appears that everything anyone does is never completely unselfish. Acts of giving make you feel good about yourself. When you love someone with all your heart and you would do anything for them, even if it hurts yourself, it is since you would feel worse off if you didn't do it.

When you give, and don't expect to receive in return, you are still receiving a feeling of goodwill from yourself. Nothing you do is ever completely about someone else, since you are always there. This is unavoidable.

Interesting Carrot :tu:

I have highlighted the parts above I agree with. I guess maybe I am selfish then? I give love, repect, trust, loyalty and so forth and I expect the same in return.

No, anything I do is not JUST for someone else. If I choose to love or make someone feel special it is becasue I choose to do that and YES it does make ME feel good to do so.

Very cool thread Carrot I like it when I have to think LOL :D

Edited to make my highlights bold.

Edited by She-ra

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It appears that everything anyone does is never completely unselfish. Acts of giving make you feel good about yourself. When you love someone with all your heart and you would do anything for them, even if it hurts yourself, it is since you would feel worse off if you didn't do it.

When you give, and don't expect to receive in return, you are still receiving a feeling of goodwill from yourself. Nothing you do is ever completely about someone else, since you are always there. This is unavoidable.

Hi Carrot Sprite:

It's all about the intent behind the giving.

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Life is survival and what you say or do has an effect of everything around you.

Dont feel bad about giving beause Its seen or felt as selfish, the reward in helping is being happy for their outcome.

Its a bit like a good deed, never do a good deed at the expense of someone else coz It will bite you back in the long run.

Deeds are seen in the spur of the moment, one can say "today I will do a good deed, Premeditated achievment.

An old lady drops her purse, a child that cant open their candy, a mother struggling with a pram, shopping and the bus drivers fee, a hard working gentleman with his tired head in is hands.

One simply thanked gesture can teach and show people that Its not just about ourselves but opens our eyes to how easy we may have it compared to some.

I belive If you really need or want something, then ask. Never beat around the bush If you feel you have something to offer and If so dont be shy and show determination.

Barter is the earliest form of good deed, you trade me yours and I'll trade you mine. Guilt shouldnt come in to it with living comfortable and happily.

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I'm not so sure if...Say I help someone out financially, I'm not sure if that's selfishness or not. Sure it makes me feel good, but I don't help people for my own gain, because if I did, I wouldn't help them to begin with because that's easier for me. Hope that makes some kind of sense.

Interesting point though. I can see what you mean, though I don't 100% agree. :)

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I'm not selfish, i can't care about anyone, not even myself, and i never do anything

Edited by realmcutter

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I think some people are missing the point.

The point is everything you do is ultimately about you. There is no completely selfless act. I have trouble explaining this without giving examples.

If you do something for someone it is so you feel right or good about it. If you make yourself feel bad, it is since you wouldn't feel right feeling good (you feel more right about yourself feeling bad than you would feeling good).

Your intent could be anything for the person, but you're doing it for how it makes you feel. It's all about you. You can do things to make others feel a way, you still are going to feel some way about it.

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Yes, I get your point. I've had conversations about it in the past. I agree with everything you said.

But in talking like this, there is a slight suggestion that it's somehow wrong, this selfishness, and we must do something about it. Isn't it? Well, there is nothing we can do, and you agree with it, too. In our mind, selfishness = unpolite, immature, wrong. And saying it's unavoidable makes one feel guilty, and without a relief (almost like original sin you are born with - but sorry for that, I'm going too far, it's not about religion...). What can we do to make ourselves feel comfortable about it? :D

Change our views on selfishness...

Or accept it as unavoidable and measure everything from the new "datum level", that is, considering natural selfishness is not selfish at all. Which is what we do.

The point is everything you do is ultimately about you.
yes, like, the hand can't touch the object without being touched by that object too. What is done, is done through you, this is what you have consciousness and body for.

So, yeah, basically, I agree with you and I wrote this all just for my pleasure :D

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It appears that everything anyone does is never completely unselfish. Acts of giving make you feel good about yourself. When you love someone with all your heart and you would do anything for them, even if it hurts yourself, it is since you would feel worse off if you didn't do it.

When you give, and don't expect to receive in return, you are still receiving a feeling of goodwill from yourself. Nothing you do is ever completely about someone else, since you are always there. This is unavoidable.

Hey Carrot- In reply to this unavoidable selfishness topic :innocent: I see what you mean. But... how about those instances of either unconditional love or reacting with out thinking? I can't seem to think that there is some example of being unselfish with out it being for your own good. I don't know.. ^_^

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Ha! I totally agreed with this idea long ago, however depending on the different philosophical approaches you have towards ethics can determine if it is selfish or not.

differing ethical theories are

ethics of care-'you would save a loved one over a stranger'

utilitarianism- 'what is best for the most- one persons life means less than 100 people'

duty based- '10 commandments, the law; a good person is one who abides by them'

Virtue- 'Justice, honor, incorruptable... a person is good when they do not lie, can resist temptations etc'

It would almost be impossible to say someone is selfless if we tend to choose specific ethical theories for different situations. Say for example, we were told by our best mate to drive someone they like (which you do not) down the street in your car, the ethics of care may be utilized; Doing it for your mate and not the person you dislike. However by virtue based theory, if you disliked this person because they hit your sister, yet you give them a lift down the street knowing full well they didn't care about you or your sister and would do it again. It could be considered absolute selfless using ethics of care because the situation is between you and that person. However then it could be seen as 'virtuous' which is a different kind of ethical theory...

My point is, we use different ethical theories, so it kind of is unfair to justify that we will always be selfish with our actions. As SRGhostgirl has said, it is all about intent towards the situation at that present time. Someone might be upset and forced to give up something to someone else. They may not be happy about it and not happy to the person/system that made them give up what they wanted. Over time however they may see the benefits, but at that time, it was not of their concern of how they could have benefited from such situation.

Having been placed in a position where your mother tells you to share lollies with a friend, you might know 'sharing is caring' yet despite this, you want to keep them to yourself. Your mother grabs the lollies from you and gives to the person that wanted to share some. You cry and are helpless within the situation.

What I mean is, a truly selfless situation is one where you have to give up something that you do not want to, for the greater good or not, its not how it benefits you but how it benefits others... So intent and which ethical system that was used at the time determines whether it could be suggested as selfless or not... IMO anyway.

Edited by Scarecrow JacK

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Hey Carrot- In reply to this unavoidable selfishness topic :innocent: I see what you mean. But... how about those instances of either unconditional love or reacting with out thinking? I can't seem to think that there is some example of being unselfish with out it being for your own good. I don't know.. ^_^

With unconditional love it is still selfish since you are a receiving a feeling of love, even maybe only from yourself, for expressing it. As for doing things without thinking; later after you did it you would feel some sort of self recognition for doing it. Almost like a habit, you do things so you will feel the results later.

Scarecrow Jack, as for doing things you don't want to in the name of ethics. If you didn't do that thing and ignored ethics, you would feel bad about ignoring the ethics later. You are still doing it for yourself, in that case to avoid the feeling of guilt.

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If you think in the terms of life.. the simple act of living.. getting from point A to any other point either of your choosing.. or you simply need some ground space to place your foot for you next step....it's about movement.. a dance.. a song...which steps are you going to take..?

...Ones that make sense to you?...

...one that is in tune with you harmoniously?...

...that hits the right note?

... are you going to listen for new beats to dance to...?

.. try some off notes and explore your reaction to them?

.. create a new dance?

.. it's all experiential...

.. are we going to follow the paths set out by others?

.. or navigate the world as a journey in self discovery?

... every step.. choice we make can help us learn about ourselves.. understand and learn about others...how our choices can affect others....as reflections of our experiences... if we are really bothered about exploring this in depth..

Do we see it as Selfish?

or as simply the manifestation/growth of self?

Unless we are drugged and hypnotized..or are members of armed forces where there are rules set out for every action and reaction... or in some other scenario where we give over our lives/ behaviors/life choices to be are handed over to another...

(but then we can sometimes choose to abdicate responsibility.. or consider being part of these organizations, as a 'selfless' act towards a cause, that is meant to be good for many.. and allow others to be our conscious and hand over our 'selves' as vessels.) we still choose how we perceive event... humanity/consciousness/subconscious can still influence our hand at a vital point..

If you think of every act as a way of defining yourself.. exploring yourself... actualizing yourself...growong..

Can it be seen as selfish.. or just 'Being'... ?

I'd say it was behaving responsibly.

In response to your experiential self and your response to the environment.

Is choosing to do good.. to have the right responses.. helping others.. acting in a positive way..seen as selfish.. or helping out the world.. ?

Is not caring... and going with the flow.. seen as being selfish. or unselfish.... or just being a sheep and moving along with how everything is playing out... along the tide of past actions/reactions?

Is it being unselfish to just go along with what everyone else wants.. or is doing.. and not causing a fuss?

Or as selfish in that you crave a sense of belonging.. or that it is too much bother to go your own way, follow your own instinct of what you should be doing at this point?

We all benefit on some level every time someone does something positive... as good deeds.. positive behaviour grows.. radiates outward..not only in the present.. but in the future .. as memories.. people often have fond memories of unexplained/random acts of kindness... and often note how it was a catalyst in their or other lives...long after the person has forgotten their deed..act...

Sometimes a negative too can affect people in such a way that they learn.. grow.. get motivated to act in a positive way.

People often only bother to change their lives... take a step in a new direction.. learn.. explore new paths... once things become too uncomfortable for them..

Like a 'hot seat' ;)

I basically believe that good wins out... it's evolution.. the meaning of life.. to grow.. learn.. create things that bring joy, satisfaction...

It's not selfish.. it is just life....a gift... it is our nature...

I gather you can draw selfish and unselfish into a Yin and Yang symbol... they are the continuous flow of life... neither one or the other.. but make a whole experience...

Edited by crystal sage

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Scarecrow Jack, as for doing things you don't want to in the name of ethics. If you didn't do that thing and ignored ethics, you would feel bad about ignoring the ethics later. You are still doing it for yourself, in that case to avoid the feeling of guilt.

Why would you feel bad about ignoring the ethics later? That is too unspecific, I know many who wish not to share with myself and find satisfaction later in doing so. That is a too generalized response to suggest that someone will feel bad later. I have also encountered people who feel ****ty about sharing afterwards because they did share, despite knowing 'its the proper thing to do' their intent was not a noble one.

What I was saying is that Being Selfless is a perception of morality, and that you can, if you try hard enough using different kinds of ethical theories, find a way to perceive it as selfish. The response you said above however is only a hypothetical situation, it is not truth because you cannot be sure that the person is avoiding guilt or if they will feel bad about ignoring ethics later.

ethics of care-

Saving your brother over a hundred people= selfishness for yourself (family first cause you love him)

Saving a hundred people over your brother= selfless for yourself (you have no personal connection with them, and may not even like them)

However if you were to then use a utilitarian perspective-

Saving a hundred people over your brother= selfishness for yourself (because culture tells you this is right, and your doing the right thing [knowing a possibility of a reward)

Saving your brother over a hundred people= selfless for yourself (You have set aside dominant beliefs and know you will be condemned as a bad person for doing such an action, despite this, you do it anyway)

A person may not critically think about the situation and selfishness/selfless acts can only be judged about the intent and actions carried out during that exact moment. If you were conflicted with many ethical theorise, utilitarian, care, etc, the one strongest within you will override all others and you may accept a small amount of selfish recognition. However that is if you are given time to think about the future effects of your actions.

If you participate within a situation where you lose out and gain nothing, it is a selfless act, which may be identified only at the time of the event occurring and cannot be thought upon later because there is a chance in (as you have pointed out) applying a different approach that was not intended originally... Get what I am trying to say?

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I think some people are missing the point.

The point is everything you do is ultimately about you. There is no completely selfless act. I have trouble explaining this without giving examples.

If you do something for someone it is so you feel right or good about it. If you make yourself feel bad, it is since you wouldn't feel right feeling good (you feel more right about yourself feeling bad than you would feeling good).

Your intent could be anything for the person, but you're doing it for how it makes you feel. It's all about you. You can do things to make others feel a way, you still are going to feel some way about it.

I dig what your saying.

The idea that the outcome of doing a good deed results in a positive feeling, or that an unselfish act usually results in some type of reward, may take away from the purity of said deeds. That this reward may be the motivation for doing these acts. This , you ponder, essentially takes away from the true act of unselfishesness for , even subconsciously, this issue may instigate what appears to be an unselfish act, but in fact is less than that.

People proceed in different manners at different times. The people that routinely do unselfish acts strictly for the rewards are actually called a** kissers!!

More practically though I think that the coincidental reward that may follow an unselfish act is actually inevitable and not coincidental. That you may in fact as a result of doing a good deed be rewarded in some shape, way, or form...."what goes around comes around" right? Thats why that saying is still reinforced by people everyday. Its not an old wives tale, or urban legend for that matter. It is a constant observation that people make while living life. We know "What goes around comes around" because we see it happen more often than never. It is recognized as an almost natural scheme of things.

So in most cases I'd say don't worry about recieving these rewards , its as a result of a natural process and inevitable. Even if a persons sole motivation for doing a good deed is for the possible reward.....it could be worse.......a person could be going out trying to steal rewards or unhealthily trying to create the same feelings, via other means.

Edited by Chauncy

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A person may not critically think about the situation and selfishness/selfless acts can only be judged about the intent and actions carried out during that exact moment. If you were conflicted with many ethical theorise, utilitarian, care, etc, the one strongest within you will override all others and you may accept a small amount of selfish recognition. However that is if you are given time to think about the future effects of your actions.

If you participate within a situation where you lose out and gain nothing, it is a selfless act, which may be identified only at the time of the event occurring and cannot be thought upon later because there is a chance in (as you have pointed out) applying a different approach that was not intended originally... Get what I am trying to say?

Yes, however there is always a gain to a loss. I.E. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The gain might not be apparent, the laws don't seem to always be so direct.

Also, how can it be selfless if it required yourself for it to happen?

Also, is it possible for a consciousness to exist without a perspective? Ethics are, as it seems to me, an ordered perspective.

I think that also relates to crystal sage's post.

Edited by carrot sprite

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Yes, however there is always a gain to a loss. I.E. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The gain might not be apparent, the laws don't seem to always be so direct.

Also, how can it be selfless if it required yourself for it to happen?

Also, is it possible for a consciousness to exist without a perspective? Ethics are, as it seems to me, an ordered perspective.

I think that also relates to crystal sage's post.

Scarecrow Jack.. that is what I was thinking. You have to think about the intent/outcome of the act at that moment. That is the perfect example... to "lose out and gain nothing.." So, there can be selfless acts?! Carrot Sprite..Energy/Action, itself, is not gained or lost, right? It has to go some where so it is always there. Really are you gaining anything? ;)

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Act of self.. self expression.. being self...

It is when we analyze.. pander to our innate need to review all ,to see where everything fits... towards our innate need of purpose.. growth.. evolution .. the need to compartmentalize everything in order to fit into our concepts of reality/progress/ achievement.. was it worth our energy.. is it best to channel this energy elsewhere.. what do we get out of this?

that we start to judge all in our world.. perhaps blur some edges.. overspills reasonings that led to each expression of self..

So in order to facilitate growth , review all.. we automatically begin to judge.. compartmentalize all into positives and negatives...some don't quite fit.. so, unjustly??? shades of grey are considered... so acts of self.. are shoved into categories of self-I-sh and un-self-I-sh..

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Scarecrow Jack.. that is what I was thinking. You have to think about the intent/outcome of the act at that moment. That is the perfect example... to "lose out and gain nothing.." So, there can be selfless acts?! Carrot Sprite..Energy/Action, itself, is not gained or lost, right? It has to go some where so it is always there. Really are you gaining anything? ;)

You are gaining a thought or emotion at least. You may not have consciously chose to do it, you may have done it unconsciously or subconsciously. Even if you don't realize why you did it, there is still a reason. The subconscious and unconscious time can usually act a lot faster than the conscious mind.

You are doing it for an outcome that in some amount does affect you. You are always a factor in the equation.

Why would you attempt to do something for something if it did not matter to you in the first place? You may not even have to consciously think about doing it since you already know. If you had complete apathy you would not attempt to do anything about it at all.

Edited by carrot sprite

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You are gaining a thought or emotion at least. You may not have consciously chose to do it, you may have done it unconsciously or subconsciously. Even if you don't realize why you did it, there is still a reason. The subconscious and unconscious time can usually act a lot faster than the conscious mind.

You are doing it for an outcome that in some amount does affect you. You are always a factor in the equation.

Why would you attempt to do something for something if it did not matter to you in the first place? You may not even have to consciously think about doing it since you already know. If you had complete apathy you would not attempt to do anything about it at all.

You always bring up good questions carrot... I need to think about it.

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You are gaining a thought or emotion at least. You may not have consciously chose to do it, you may have done it unconsciously or subconsciously. Even if you don't realize why you did it, there is still a reason. The subconscious and unconscious time can usually act a lot faster than the conscious mind.

You are doing it for an outcome that in some amount does affect you. You are always a factor in the equation.

Why would you attempt to do something for something if it did not matter to you in the first place? You may not even have to consciously think about doing it since you already know. If you had complete apathy you would not attempt to do anything about it at all.

Ok the most I can come up with is that your thought or emotion (consciousnous) is energy... I think energy can neither be gained or lost. So, it goes back to what I was saying. All in all, sure all outcomes affect you. They affect everyone. Are you saying there is more to say about the subconscious mind? I am just thinking carrot. Can anyone really be truely apathetic? If anything...You would have to be like that guy that lived on the streets in a tub you were telling me about! :hmm: I forget his name.

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The intention makes all the difference.

If a person does something purely to help someone else, with no thought for themselves, that is a selfless act.

If, afterwards, they feel good about the decision, that's even better.

It does not negate the act just because they feel good about it.

People do this kind of thing all the time.

Altruism is alive and well.

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Having read this thread a little more closely, I've noticed people have actually made the point I just made.

Bugger. I thought it was a good one too.

Anyway, I think the issue here is subjectivity.

Because it is you that is making a decision, you can never be totally removed from the equation.

This is not a nail in the coffin of altruism by any means. It is a logic trap and is irrelevant.

If you've decided to stick to a moral principle that is external to your desires, you can be altruistic.

There are no shortages of incidences where someone has made a decision because they think it is the right thing to do but it goes against everything they want.

In such a circumstance, the benefit they feel from having made the right decision is completely outweighed by the negative impact of having done it.

Famous example: Captain Oates - "I'm going outside, I may be some time."

Altruism. Still kicking.

Edited by Saard

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Having read this thread a little more closely, I've noticed people have actually made the point I just made.

Bugger. I thought it was a good one too.

Anyway, I think the issue here is subjectivity.

Because it is you that is making a decision, you can never be totally removed from the equation.

This is not a nail in the coffin of altruism by any means. It is a logic trap and is irrelevant.

If you've decided to stick to a moral principle that is external to your desires, you can be altruistic.

There are no shortages of incidences where someone has made a decision because they think it is the right thing to do but it goes against everything they want.

In such a circumstance, the benefit they feel from having made the right decision is completely outweighed by the negative impact of having done it.

Famous example: Captain Oates - "I'm going outside, I may be some time."

Altruism. Still kicking.

For doing that they can selfishly see themselves as a person that does the right thing. They get to live in the pride that they give up what they desired for something else. They're still doing it for themselves, so they can feel right about themselves.

What's the use of having what you want if you still feel bad about yourself?

A lot of times mental or spiritual desires outweigh all of the material desires.

It's still selfishness.

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Every act.. or inaction.. expresses yourself... who you are at that moment... it is not selfish.. it is just being existing..

A monk in a cave may just sit there and simply 'be' explore matter..conscious.unconscious... he needs a little servant to check up on him .. feed him.. selfish... ?? .. he may think it is selfless.. as most of his life is spent .. inside.. outside him self...

A person in a coma... is just being.. existing in another plane.... yet requires care... creates misery.. grief.. to those that have known and loved him.. or even hated him.. as they now feel guilty.. or still feel a connections one way or another.

A homeless person on the street.. may barely have exist to many.. leave what we assume is a small footprint.. but..they leave their mark on numerous people ..who they interact with.. the randoms that experience him in their reality.. even if it is as a reminder to work harder.. study harder... try and help out more in society..fear.. pity.. empathy... those that help with charitable works... those that he chats to.. his friends and acquaintances that he interacts with.. some stray pets.. people that he helped out from all walks of life... the energetic.. telepathic messages he is sending to others.. the memories.. connections to all those in his past... those that are involved in his dreams/adventures of the future....

everyone has an energetic footprint in this world.. whether they are still here.. absent.. lost.. dead..late.. early..as an old friend.. a new acquaintance..triggers a positive or negative or neutral memory in someone/many.,. any act or deed that has shaped or influenced a life.. lives... been a member of a crowd.. driven on a road that you were on.. by adding to traffic.. driving slowly causing stress.. making you late.. causing you overtake... taking your parking space.. leaving the parking space just as you need it.. or just as you passed it.. or parked crookedly...

Every one leaves their mark somehow.. by their presence or absence.. by simply existing in any frame of reference...

Why some people are even affected by the children they never had... the people they have never met.. or fear to meet... just the image of a potential person can have an effect on someone..

The bogey man in the closet.. under the bed.. in a story.. can create havock in someones.. many lives..

The image of Hansel and Gretel... Cinderella... the wicked witch.. all have positive or negative influences... or just influences on countless lives...

Could you classify them... relegate them into selfish or unselfish categories???

It is all about being.. We create the idea of positive or negative.. we judge.. categorize .. unconsciously relegate all... Is it a latent form of OCD ?

:yes:

http://www.adaa.org/Public/selftest_OCD.htm

Add to that the obsessive need to categorize all in order to assimilate neatly place it in into your world...

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=i7jG91sPvf0

Every thing just is... until we feed it energy and create with it... harness it into our building blocks in our reality.

Edited by crystal sage

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You don't have to give it the selfish and unselfish label to make it negative or positive... Afterall, negative and positive are the same thing, just a different configuration of it. That is another subject though.

What I am saying is, everything you do, you do it for yourself. When someone says they did something for someone else, they are really causing change to that person so it reacts with themselves. The reaction to yourself may not be material, it may be spiritual or emotional.

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