How often have you heard this sentence?
“you have to give without expecting anything in return”
My mum still says it to me.
And, even though this phrase may be partially true, today I want to explain the untrue part.
At least from my point of view.
First of all, you have to learn how to differentiate between the things you do because you want to and which make you feel good, independently of whether you receive something in return.
And those close relationships, where what you’re looking for is a reciprocal relationship.
Don’t kid yourself
If you take what the sentence says literally… you may be disappointed.
What would do a person considers this phrase as an unquestionable truth and has a person next to him/her, whom he treats wrong. What would this person do?
It could be a friend, a partner, a colleague…
Imagine, for a moment, that this person is you.
- You have a friend, whom you appreciate, and for whom you do your best.
- You have a partner that can always count on you, because you’re always there.
- Or, you have a colleague who you always help in absolutely everything.
One day, another day, and the next day, too.
But after a while, you realize that:
- When you need a friend, you don’t know who to call.
- When your partner should be supporting you and by your side… he/she disappears.
- Or, when it’s you who needs help on a project, your colleague is too busy.
So you tell yourself what you’ve heard several times:
“You must give without expecting anything in return”
So I ask you:
Put yourself in the situations I’ve explained, and answer one more question:
We have to differentiate between close relationships, and “general” or specific ones.
If you give someone your friendship, shouldn’t they give your their friendship too?
If you give someone your love, shouldn’t you receive love from them?
If you help someone at work, wouldn’t you like for them to also help you?
You can give as much as you want, if you choose to do so freely.
Another very different thing, is the kind of relationship you want to have.
These are very different things and, nevertheless, are often confusing.
Do you still believe you have to give without expecting anything in return?
You seriously believe you don’t deserve, or don’t need to receive anything.
It’s clear that everything depends on the point of view.
In general, if you want to give something, you just give it and period.
I’m not saying you ALWAYS have to get something in return.
But it’s very different to GENERALIZE, and give to every relationship, believing we don’t deserve anything in return.
Then, it becomes a very serious situation.
Walter Riso, in his book “Love or Depend”, differentiates between unconditional love, and relationship love.
Unconditional love is the one that:
- a mother has for her child
- you generally show to the people you know
- you can have from animals
- or you feel when you decide that it is your mission to do good to the planet, for example.
But the loved one has in a relationship that involves an emotional attachment, IS a CONDITIONAL love.
Because if those conditions and that reciprocity don’t happen, love turns into dependence.
And to be free, we must be able to let go of those relationships that don’t give us what we want.
To get a relationship to be reciprocal, both have to feel in balance.
You must be able to give and receive simultaneously.
You must be able to love and be loved.
You must be able to help and be helped.
Because of that,
When you hear that little phrase again:
“you have to give without expecting anything in return”,
I wish you had very, very clear that you CAN’T apply this to people with whom you have emotional relationships.
To consider an “emotional” relationship as healthy, there has to be reciprocity.
Choose what kind of situations and to what kind of people you want to give your help to, but just because you want to.
And also decide in what situations and to what people, you DON’T want to give your help.
Because a healthy self-esteem implies being able to give and receive.
I’ve been confused for many years.
And therefore, I have accepted things that, if someone would have explained them better to me, I wouldn’t have.
So don’t feel bad for asking for what you need, to the people you have by your side.
It’s your right.
Yes, you can and you should get something in return.
Yes, you deserve to be loved, cared for and respected.
And if that person, doesn’t give you what you deserve,
As I’ve told you many times …
You have to leave.
Even if it hurts.
But it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
So, you do deserve to receive as much as you give.
Don’t forget that!
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