Giving and receiving
Often we are not getting what we want. We may not be getting the money we feel we deserve. Or the amount of love and affection we want. Or the recognition we want. Or the help and support we need. Not getting what we want is kind of part of the human condition. Mostly what we do about it is have a nice big, fat moan. Right?
“My boss just doesn’t appreciate me like he should … My husband should support me more around the house … My mother is never loving towards me … My friend is never really interested in what I am doing...”
Venting feels good. It also keeps us focused on what we are NOT getting. But it doesn’t make much of a difference. If any. Generally, the situation will just perpetuate. We remain unloved. Disrespected. Undervalued. Unsupported. Whatever.
We can’t magically change other people to give us what we want. We are not in direct control of that. But, we are in control of ourselves. And what makes a powerful difference in these situations is to turn the question around. Instead of looking at what we are not getting, look at what we are in control of instead — and that is what we are giving.
I know when you feel hard done by the last thing you want to do is give MORE but that’s not exactly what I mean. Dig a little deeper: If you are not happy with what you are getting have a good think about what you are giving.
Janelle was feeling very let down by her husband not supporting her fledging business. When I asked her about the last time she had demonstrated her support for his work, she drew a blank. She couldn’t even remember the last time she had even asked about his day, let alone his work, she was so wrapped up in her new project. She was expecting him to do something she wasn’t prepared to do in return. She was, in fact, getting exactly what she was giving. Nothing.
When Polly was seething about her ex-husband continually disrespecting their long-standing childcare arrangements, I asked when she had last demonstrated respect for herself and restated her boundaries clearly, calmly and firmly, detailing the consequences of crossing those boundaries. She had never done this. She was asking him to give more respect to those boundaries than she was demonstrating herself.
Caron was fuming that her husband made a comment about how she looked in a particular outfit. When she looked at what she was actually giving in terms of respecting, looking after and even being appreciative of her own body, she was hard pressed to come up with any positives at all. She was asking him to love something she was repeatedly saying and thinking was unworthy of love. She wanted him to give her something that was the exact opposite of what she was giving out.
If we disrespect our own boundaries we should be less surprised that others disrespect them too. If we do not love and appreciate our body, we make it harder for others to do so. If we are always looking at how much money we don’t have, giving out the message of “not enough” then we are going to get a feeling and the reality of not enough money.
This awareness is a good thing. Because all of this is in our own hands. We have the power to change the dynamic and when we change what we give out we will get something different in return. To paraphrase the great Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes (and look at what you are giving, not just at what you are not getting) you might just find, you get what you need.