As of right now, this very moment, I am done with being nicer to people than they deserve.
I believe in being kind. I believe in doing good deeds and that good things will come back to you. This sort of karma springs from the satisfaction personal growth and from the knowledge that you have contributed in enriching the world, even if only a tiny bit. Notice that I didn't say that doing the good thing is satisfying in itself; it is the result (or the hope of a result) that is connected with the positive feelings. My bottom line is that you should only be so nice.
Whoa, hey now! It seems like I did a complete 180 there, doesn't it? First I'm promoting selflessness and now I'm saying look out for ol' number one! Well, yeah. I've believed for a long time that you can only take care of others and give to the best of your abilities if you also take care of yourself. To be at one's peak, they must be care for physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially and what have you. You're going to be tired if you don't get enough rest, grumpy if you don't get enough love, listless if you don't make time for peace.
Along the same lines, you cannot expect yourself to give the best of yourself to people who don't respect what you have to give. That in itself is a sign of self-respect. At least that's how I feel. Yes its good to take the high road. But if you have to repeatedly take the high road to prove to someone how mature, or kind, or whatever you are, then you're still defending yourself and indirectly validating the accusation that you don't posses these qualities. Stand up for yourself! It's ok to tell someone they've hurt you, or are being disrespectful or even mean. I try to take the high road virtually whenever possible (aside from venting about the various social mishaps recounted in this blog) but after a while it just starts to take a toll. Sometimes I have to ask myself why I'm wasting so much energy to avoid making a retort when it only forces me to hold all that anger inside. The anger has to go somewhere, either damaging me or exploding out, unwarranted, in another situation. Why am I emotionally isolating myself and holding such a high standard for my actions? The problem with this is that I inevitably apply these standards to others.... which they can never live up to.
"Protect your heart" is a piece of advice my friend often recites. These are wise words... but the practice of it by either not doling out pieces or deflecting attacks is easier said than done.