if you already had to ask is it too late?

This weekend laying quietly after waking my mind was very active.

A couple of things that I often ponder were being tackled by my mind from a different angle, revealing some new insights... these are some of my thoughts around relationships.

Relationships always consist of giving and receiving and although no physical set of scales there can be a constant mental weighing up of whether the giving exceeds the receiving... and herein lies many of the challenges in relationships (and in business) as these scales are rarely in balance which oftentimes leads to rows and arguments...

If we choose not to worry about the scales and just keep giving (a bit of self sacrifice, or I just want an easy life, it's too hard to do battle, resignation) ... in time we can feel a bit of a doormat. Just being used without really any thanks. This can lead to being resentful and bitter in the fullness of time.

The opposite is where there is virtually no regard or recognition for the other and just a focus on what is good for me, a serial taker. The motivation in this case comes back to 'self' with a very low level and superficial interest in the what the other is doing. The only time that consideration is offered is when they are perhaps seeking even more from the other and it's only "give to get back".

So this got me thinking about what is going on... for the purposes of the next few paragraphs let me refer to these two different people as 'Givers' and 'Takers'.

I'm a firm believer that a very harmonious relationship would be when the two people are giving to each other knowing that the other is equally committed to the same approach. Why would this be good?

It all comes down to the asking. When we do something spontaneously for another, when we think about another person... on our own... our thought, conceived by ourselves for the benefit of another. We have done something very important. We have taken a decision to do something that is kind, pleasant, nice, good for another. We haven't been asked to do it...

Why is being asked so different?

When we are asked to do something by another we are carrying out their request. We have been interrupted, and we have to stop what we were doing (possibly now or later), to consider and make a decision... this wasn't from our mind... it wasn't our idea... if it was we wouldn't have needed to be asked. The thought has been planted by another...

So the difference is that when we are asked we now have two choices. We can either obey (follow through on the request) ... or... we have to explain why we are not going to do whatever it is. When we obey we are now into giver mode... if we explain why we don't want to carry out the request we risk damaging the relationship and / or disappointing the other. Many just carry out the request without making any conscious choice, we don't want to 'make anyone unhappy'...

Asking someone to do something or even providing a suggestion also takes away the power to be spontaneous... a lesson I have recently begun to learn. Encouraging people to come up with their own ideas, their own thoughts... this is where so much magic lies... creativity... even in relationships, it is so very important.

Spontaneity is amazing in a relationship

When we do things for others without being asked, we are demonstrating by taking action that we are thinking about the other, what will make them happy, or smile, but we are also deepening the connection. When someone does something without asking, which is a nice surprise, how amazing is it? ... I know I often have a smile on my face, thinking how very thoughtful it was... and that how kind it was of them... it also means they were thinking of you, who you are, what you would like, and have an intent to strengthen and deepen the relationship. It's very powerful stuff... imagine if two people were constantly looking out for ways to spontaneously please each other?

Often though in relationships with Givers and Takers... the taker has no idea what is going on. They are so inwardly focused on themselves there is little more thought than... that's nice, thanks (not always)... and off they go again. The blinkers are well and truly on, it just doesn't even occur to them.

We're not taught to do this

In a world which is all about me, me, me... we are rarely exposed to this kind of thinking. Time is money, we're all so very busy doing stuff... no time to think let alone put in this kind of effort (and work)... and anyway why should I? ... they wouldn't do it for me? ... why do I always have to be first? ... why is it always me that has to cave in?

Is it possible for someone who is so self absorbed to learn how to think differently? To be spontaneous... to seek ways to make another happy? ... in truth I don't know.

Working on ourselves...

Our ego's in relationships come into play so often... I think the most understated element of mindfulness is not just that all we have is "now" in the true reality of the statement. But that when we consider the meaning of 'now' we must to a certain extent look at the now, with new eyes, for the first time, without all the baggage of the past.

Using the past as a reference point has a tendency to keep us tied to events of the past and will often prevent us from going forward. In the context of a relationship... all the past may well conjure up feelings of 'being taken advantage of' ... or 'always doing the running' ... but focusing  on these things feeds the ego to control and seriously affect the thoughts and actions of the 'now'.

I always try and think about a Stephen Covey sentence. Begin with the end in mind... this helps to overcome the ego. We might have to actually do something the ego isn't happy with but the end result is worth it... it happens all the time, but if we pander to the ego, it'll only help keep us stuck where we are. It's really hard work this... because we are battling with ourselves and the ego is there to protect us.

Being the change...

I believe there are far more givers out there than takers. It correlates to the comment that in general most people are kind, it has just been hijacked by a 'follow the pack' modern day society that preaches our value is about "what we have, not, who we are".

I also believe that happiness comes from doing what you love, serving others, and being innovative in the pursuit of finding new alternative ways to deliver your gifts.

Perhaps the Takers will never be any different... maybe their time will come later or maybe their purpose is to teach us the meaning of service, who knows. I think one of the challenges we face is that the Givers need to feel good about themselves, right now, right where they are. If anyone is going to change anything it is this group of people who care about others; the givers. There are a great many Givers out there... perhaps all we need to do is come together... to support each other... and build on being happy through kindness.

Another blog to follow which is deeply connected with this... How money undermines society and that until we resolve our relationship with money we can never really be free.


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