The short and easy answer is when you are giving so much that you are feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, depleted, resentful, hurt, angry, or used...any or all of the above. And then sometimes beating yourself up for feeling that way. And the truth is, all of those feelings suck, and the other truth is only we can stand in our sovereignty and shift them. But for those of us who are spiritual seekers there can be a paradox over how we got there and our reactions. I am going to discuss holding this paradox, standing in our sovereignty, and shifting (or maybe not..as I am still working through it) those feelings as it relates to business and personal relationships outside of family and romance...because that is a different dynamic, and is book-worthy.
I have been dancing with the word reciprocity
1: the quality or state of being reciprocal : mutual dependence, action, or influence
2: a mutual exchange of privileges specifically : a recognition by one of two countries or institutions of the validity of licenses or privileges granted by the other
Used in a sentence: Grownups know that little things matter … and that relationships are based on respect and reciprocity.— Margaret Carlson, Time, 4 June 2001
And I think of reciprocity of energetic exchange, and the circle of abundance, and Universal Law. Every thing is energy. So what happens when you feel like you are giving a lot your energy, whether it is time, love, financial, support, gratitude, just energy to someone, or something like a group, and you feel as though you are getting nothing in return? You tend to get resentful, hurt, sad...a whole host of feelings and emotions.
And yet in so many spiritual traditions the goal is to love yourself and everyone unconditionally. And that you should give without any expectation of a return, but purely for the sake of giving from you heart.
And damned if I don't try to live by that.
But here is the truth, and the paradox. First, you can love a soul unconditionally without having to love or like the person standing in front of you, or to continue to allow yourself to over-give without receiving some sort of energetic exchange.....it doesn't have to be equal in what our minds consider value, but some consideration, a smile, gratitude, a shout out, whatever. At a human, physical level we crave that. And not everyone is capable or even just awake enough to realize you need that. So send them unconditional love, and send them on their way. Or at least rethink the amount of energy you are giving, and if its depleting you then pull back the reigns.
The second piece is the distortion of giving from your heart without and expectation of a return. Again the paradox, I give, I give A LOT, in many ways, and with joy, because I want to and because I love to be generous with all of my resources, but I also need to be sustained and nourished, as do you. But the truth is, there is an expectation of even the smallest energetic exchange, as I said it does not necissarily need to be in kind. Meaning if I support someone's business, it does not mean I have an expectation that they support mine in an equal financial exchange, or ever work with me if I am not offering something they are interested in. But what I may love; especially if they don't know exactly what I do, is to spend some time getting to know me personally, and what I do. Because what I do is a huge part of who I am, my sacred work is a big part of my piece of the planetary puzzle...but not all of it.
So I am going to ground this into a specific situation, that to be honest hurt me, and while I KNOW without a doubt that peoples' actions, behaviors and words are not about me, they are about them. Some things do not hurt any less, even though I know that truth. And I think you can relate to this story, at least I hope you can.
Last week, someone I have known quite some time on a superficial networking level reaching out to see if I would move over a service from my current provider to her. OK sure, I have no relationship with the person who is currently providing it. But moving over would take some time and research on my part. I also asked if she would like to meet for coffee, get to know each other better, on a personal level first and foremost, but then to give her a better understanding of what I do. After all she is a networking contact, and even if she has no interest in what I do, generally the way it works is you get to know what people do, so if you do know someone who might benefit from their work you can refer them. It goes both ways.
The response was, sure if I ever get any spare time.
There is one thing I know and one thing my teacher Christine Arylo says, "you can't make time, there is no time kitchen." Where you spend your time is all about choice and priority. So I quickly realized I was high priority as a customer, but very low priority as a person. And it hurt. I doubt she realized she hurt me, and that is where it becomes about me, not about the person. And I seem to be finding this a lot with certain groups, supporting like crazy as a customer, or just spending time to get know others, or the offering of spending time to do so is not being reciprocated. So it is on me of course, to discern, stand in my sovereignty, and decide if I want to give any more energy to certain people or groups. And to send them on their way with unconditional love.
This of course can happen outside of business, in friend and family relationships. And I am asking you to take a look at where you are not feeling the love exchange, and then it is up to you to decide whether to continue in that or let it go. Either way, my reason for sharing this is two-fold, one is to make sure you don't get to the place of hurt, resentment, depletion, or be in relationships that are not nourishing for all involved.
The second is, and this is the deeper work. Everything we see or feel that bothers us about someone else is actually a mirror reflection on us. That is the one that can be hard to swallow, but the truth from an energetic standpoint is...it is impossible to recognize something in someone else, if it does not already exist inside you, even at the deepest levels that you may not be aware of. But the questioning of that in these situations, is what guides you to looking at your own shit and becoming a better, more aware person.
So now I have sat with and asked myself, when have I and have I ever (and I am certain I have) made someone feel like they are not a priority for me, or less than. Or have I used someone for my own gain? No matter how unintentionally. This is the gift out of all of the things that come up for us, and where the real energetic exchange lies within us. Becoming aware of doing something yourself, because someone brought up the feels or the hurts for you. And that awareness means hopefully you are acutely aware if you are about to do it again, and can transform in the moment into an unconditionally loving, no expectations space without depleting yourself or over-giving. And going back to the quote above..."grown-ups know that little things matter." I would re-frame that to say awake and aware grown-ups know that little things matter. And it is these moments that wake us up and bring awareness, so that we understand that in our relationships sometimes its the little things, the little gestures, the little words of gratitude or interest that make the biggest impact. You get decide what type of impact. Which is why Don Miguel Ruiz says- Be Impeccable with Your Word.
I also mentioned in the beginning how to shift these feelings. Besides the work in looking in the mirror at myself. For ME its this. Self-expressing through writing, painting, speaking is the SHIFT. By the time I am done writing this, the whole situation will be out of my energy field, and at the same time a seed planted in it to be sure I am in awareness of my impact on others. This is why I teach self-expression and the importance of it. Even if you don't make it all public like I do...lol. Self-expression is for me one of the fastest ways to shift my energy, transform my story, and to be more loving to myself and others.
I would love to hear from you, your thoughts on reciprocity, expectations, hurts, and where you might be over-giving. AND how you can look in the mirror at these things and see where they lie in you and how become aware of them is a gift.