Give It To Get It

We all want more out of our respective relationships, don’t we? We want our spouses to be more attentive to us. We want our friends to offer more empathy. We want our kids to be more respectful. And the typical way we go about this is to ask for more, more, more! We walk around internally complaining about all of the lack in our relationships. We especially do this in our intimate relationships.

So here’s an idea.

For everything that you feel you are not getting from your relationship, try giving it. So when hubby kicks off his shoes and stinky socks at the end of the day and sits on the couch and you’re thinking, “Why isn’t he paying any attention to me?! He hasn’t even asked me about my day.” Here’s your opportunity. You go to him. You ask him about his day. And here’s the kicker. Do it without the expectation that this will get you what you want.

Here’s how you come at this: You think about and feel that feeling of really wanting to be talked to. You feel, in your body, what it feels like when someone really pays attention to you and ‘sees’ you. And than you might, just maybe, realize that you actually DO want to give this. That, in fact, waiting for someone to give this to you, feels even crappier than becoming the initiator of the action you would like more of in your life. Because by waiting for someone else to give this to you, you deprive yourself of the experience altogether.

And this works under literally every single scenario.

Do you know why it works? Because if you begin to be the ‘giver’ in your relationships; giving all that you would like to receive from a given person, and that person doesn’t give back at some point, than you know. You know that this person is not ‘in it’ with you. Not in a way that you deserve. They’ve become a parasite. And than you can be clear that they are, at this time, incapable of giving you what you need. But in most cases, people respond beautifully to this giving. And mostly, you actually get to embody what you’re wanting so badly.

But there’s a hitch. And this hitch is almost always the reason people don’t give what they want to get. It’s the reason they withhold and then complain that they’re not getting the love and attention they so desperately want.

To give so freely, so unconditionally, makes people VULNERABLE.

I often think of the following analogy when I think of someone making themselves vulnerable. I think of the little kid on the playground who doesn’t know anyone yet. And I think of that little kid bravely walking up to someone on the playground to find out if they’ll be his friend. Kids are so gutsy. And kids are often more shy than us adults. But they do it anyway. They break through the fear of vulnerability because their desire to connect with another human being outweighs their fear.

When we start giving of our love and attention freely to others, it requires a deep opening. And if we do it properly, it requires us to really, really see another person. And by ‘see’ I’m not talking about looking upon their physical self. Because real giving of love and attention means to look upon another person in absolute openness. It requires complete unbiased regard. There’s no assessment involved. There’s no judgment. There’s only love. And this scares us. It scares us because we’re great at sizing people up. We’re great at breaking them down into categories and measurements.

I realized something about myself a little while back. I realized that when I’m engaged with someone, talking with someone, I often guard myself in how I look at them. I do this because when I’m unguarded, I ‘catch’ myself gazing at people with absolute love. And it embarrasses me. I’m afraid I’m going to overwhelm people. I’m afraid I’m going to overwhelm myself. And it doesn’t matter who it is. I was in a particularly unguarded place a few days ago. I was in the kids section at a bookstore and was speaking with a woman who works there. We’ve spoken often and I really like her. As we were talking, I watched myself looking at her. I stepped into the Observer at that point and watched myself. I was looking at her with such reverence and love that when I stepped back and noticed what I was doing, I shut myself down. And then I caught myself doing this (welcome to my interesting, weird world). And so I dropped my guard again and went back to looking at her, openly and lovingly. And here’s the interesting part. I notice that when my daughter and I go in there, amongst the hoards of other parents and children, this woman makes a beeline for us. You get what you give.

You can practice this with anyone. Anytime. And I encourage you to practice this especially with ‘anyone.’ Sometimes its easier to start with a random person. It’s less personal. And yet by the time you’ve walked away from an open, loving interaction with them, it will have become much more personal and not random at all.

Isn’t this why we’re here? To cultivate love and compassion and connection through our various relationships? No one looks back as a very old person and says, “I wish I’d done more at work.”

My grandfather, who was a very guarded, detached and sometimes grumpy man made a shift during the last couple of weeks of his life. He told his four children that he loved them. Again and again. It is my understanding that he just didn’t say this. He finally had an opening just before he left.

But why wait? Why wait until its painful and too late? Why wait for someone else to give this to you when you could be giving this to everyone you meet? Live it now. Be it now. Don’t wait.

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