I have often heard that in a good relationship of any kind, you have to both Give and Take. I want to challenge that, claiming that the basis of any good relationship is Giving – including the relationship with yourself!
In every moment you have the possibility to choose how to interact. Either you ask yourself ”How can I contribute in this situation?” or you ask yourself ”What’s in it for me, how can I benefit?”. At first glance, the second approach might seem more fruitful. Surely, looking out for your interests and making sure you get the most out of each situation must be most beneficial! You don’t want people taking advantage of you, do you? Let’s examine it a bit closer, though.
Contributing VS Benefitting
Each time you focus on how you can benefit, you are a threat to the people around you. They can feel that you want to get something out of them or out of the situation. And you will therefore be a threat to them. Not only will they also probably try to take all they can, but they will not trust you. Not now, and probably also not later.
On the other hand, when you focus on how you can contribute, you are not a threat to anybody. Others do not feel that you are trying to get to them or take anything from them. This leads to that the people and world around you are much more likely to work with you, not compete with you. You will not have to watch your back, thus giving you both a sense of security and a sense of harmony.
Giving Yourself a Gift
When you try to get something from someone, they can withhold that from you. It may be money, possessions, love, or approval. This means that the other someone will have power over you, since they can withhold what you want. On the contrary, when you want to give someone something, like money, possessions, love or approval, it is up to you to give it. Thus the power in the situation stays with yourself. And icing on the cake, Giving makes you feel good; it gives you a sense of fulfillment. In fact Giving gives you four gifts in return: security, harmony, power and fulfillment!
Consequently, if you are in there for getting the most out of a situation for yourself, Taking, that will in return, according to the same logic, give you: insecurity, conflict, discontentedness, and weakness. I know which of the sets of gifts I would prefer!
Choosing to Give or Choosing to Take
Every time you choose to contribute, to Give, brings you one step further on your own path towards maturity. Thus, making it easier and easier to make the choice to contribute in every situation. Your path towards maturity thereby gets easier to tread along the way. Even if you will doubtless now and they end up on the Taking end of the stick despite the best of intentions.
It is not at all rare for me to see in hindsight that something that seemed like the right thing to do at the time, was actually a Taking behaviour. It is then very easy for me to beat myself up about it. And it is astonishing how long i can continue with that beating up! Far longer and far harder than I would ever with anyone else. What is it that is needed then, in that situation? Generosity, forgiving myself and letting go of my mistake! Feeling bad is not a virtue. To continue beating myself up about something that has happened, that I regret and have done what I can to repair any damage from, is indulging. There is nothing generous or courageous about indulging, it is selfish. Therefore, it is important to forgive oneself, fix whatever needs to and can be fixed. Then learn from the mistake and move on. That is what Giving means in that type of situation.
True Intentions Behind it All
Hopefully, you do not find the gist of this too hard to grasp. Furthermore, there are a few things to be aware of not to get lost on the way:
- If you are in fact contributing in a situation, but with the purpose of getting a service in return later, that is not really Giving; that is making an investment. Let’s say your friend is moving houses, and you help him or her, so that they will feel obliged to help you with your moving of houses next month – that’s an investment. Even thought the action as such is helping your friend to move, the Intent is then not unconditional Giving, but rather an investment.
- Giving can be done with either generosity or courage. If you act with misguided generosity when it is really courage that is needed, or the other way around, that is not Giving but Taking. The reasoning around that, however, demands its own blog post. You can also read about it in the book It’s all about the Spirit, which you can find in the Schuitema book shop. The chapter is called Getting stuck in the Thornbush. Aoch!
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