This is part two in my series on Giving and Forgiving…
Giving and receiving of you.
In Part 1 of this series on Giving and Forgiving, I began with how my laughing epiphany helped me make the connection between giving and accepting freely. Please stop by to read the background for this post.
To begin this post, I am making the distinction here between manners and requirements. I don’t believe in insisting that my kids say, “I’m sorry” or “Thank you.” I talk with them during a neutral time about empathy and kindness. I explain to them about societal expectations and choices.
Most importantly, I model caring for another person and giving kind words whenever needed. I don’t want to encourage the idea of stuffing down feelings in order to please someone else, rather I want them to have the ability to fix a situation, or not, as they see fit.
Insisting on gifts, reciprocity or gratitude is the same thing to me as forcing a child to apologize. I would rather receive an honest silence than a disingenuous thank you. It is similar to when someone asks, “How are you?” For many, this translates to, “Here’s my polite platitude so that I can tell you about me.” When I ask “How are you?” I want to know if your day was stressful or joyful. I want to listen and care (and I don’t really mind if you don’t ask me in return.)
I understand that not everyone agrees with this view of manners. For many, being polite should be performed without regard to intrinsic motivation. I honor that, as well. But, I would like there to be a clear distinction between those times as I raise my children.
I want to empower them to move from the heart and once they are able to figure out what is required in a situation, to give the social niceties from a place of giving freely because they give from their heart. This is intrinsic motivation and is how to give true gifts.
This freedom in giving and receiving allows me to enjoy gifts. I can give with no expectation of reaction from the receiver. If they are pleased, I can enjoy their pleasure. If they don’t react in a way that I expect, I’m not disappointed. I took pleasure in choosing and giving to them.
The same for receiving. Once I get over my own issues with being worthwhile to receive a gift (that’s a whole other issue, fairly common to women and victims of abuse.) I appreciate the offer from the other person. Whether the gift hits the mark for my personal enjoyment or not, I feel a sense of contentment in the connection that is formed within the exchange of giving.
I want to live my life freely and that means giving freely of everything. In order to do that, I have to do a lot of inner work to fill my bucket.
When I look at my kids, I notice that their behavior is more even when they are feeling nurtured and safe. They are more able to handle the frustration with a challenging puzzle or when encountering a difficult concept when they have assurance of their needs being met.
And conversely, they are more apt to lose control of their emotions when they are tired, hungry, or emotionally disconnected. The same goes for adults. Only we’re better at labeling our tantrums as something more benign because we’re grown up. If we have years of not having our needs met, we may be out of touch with our needs and just like that 3 year old screaming on the floor, we’ll feel terrified about the lack of control.
It’s time to step back and breathe, then try to connect with the unmet needs either at that time or later. For me, I need lots of time to write, read, be outside and practice Yoga and meditation. I also need lots of physical affection. I know that these things fill my emotional bucket, so I cultivate them. I try to notice when I’m running low and seek them out.
It’s not selfish to put your own oxygen mask on first. It benefits everyone’s survival.
When my bucket is empty, I do a poor job giving freely and it’s often a major effort to rise above it. But, when I’m feeling content, I am able to connect with giving more easily. Identifying and meeting needs for yourself and those around you is something I’ll cover in a later post. For now, I highly recommend you read Vibrant Wandering’s: Giving From the Heart.
Giving love, extending friendship, caring for someone, giving of your time, and so on are gifts in exactly the same way as purchasing or making an object. I would even argue that the bought or made object is a representation of those feelings. A tangible gift is an outward representation of feelings the giver, just as saying “I love you” or “I’m sorry” is supposed to be.
Receiving and giving love, friendship, forgiveness, empathy, care, time, and so on are also gifts that you give to yourself and the giver.
Even giving attention is a gift. They are the type of gifts that are done without thought of reimbursement because they emerge from the person you are. When done in this way, they have no cost. In fact, they pay both people back richly.
The things you give the most attention to are the things that will flourish.
It is the spirit of exchange that moves someone to give freely. It is interesting to think about the gift of forgiveness for ourselves and others. This can be an especially challenging thing during the holidays.I’ll explore forgiveness, guilt, as well as giving our truth (including the idea of Santa Claus in future posts in this series)
Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?
Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?
Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
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- Guest Post: The Key to Everything (touchstonez.com)
- When the Chitta Hits the Fan (touchstonez.com)
- Giving from the Heart (vibrantwanderings.com)
- Family Traditions: To Santa or Not to Santa (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- What’s Not Ok? (A Self-Forgiveness Post) (itsokblog.com)
- Yama, Niyama and the Red Pajama Mama (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- Further proof that children are socially cooperative creatures (hobomama.com)
- More on the Culture of More(angelbabyjazzymama.blogspot.com)
- Deck the Halls with Psychoanal Gifts (touchstonez.com)