Are You Trying To Give or Trying To Get?

Are You Trying To Give or Trying To Get?

The Union Path Podcast

"Are You Trying To Give or Trying To Get?"


This might go without saying, but one of the most powerful tools that we have in our life, one of the most powerful things we have at our disposal, is our intention. It's going through life with a sense of purpose, going through life with trying to live life on purpose. But one of the ways that intention can get really interesting is when we start applying it retroactively to ourselves, when we look at our own motives, at our own doing, at our own behavior and really start to question why, why did we do this, why did we not do that? Then, when we start to really become aware of ourselves and we start to really build our own self-awareness, really bring that awareness to this question of intent, especially in our interactions with other people, it's important to ask ourselves what are we trying to get out of this interaction? What are we really trying to get done? When we inquire into that, we can notice there's a very specific feeling, a very profound difference between doing something to give rather than doing something to get. This awareness can be a bit of a lifetime project, because these self-serving ends, this latent and sometimes hidden self-centeredness, can hide all over the place, even if we're doing something because we think we're doing it for the right reasons. It's important to ask ourselves well, are we really doing it for the right reasons? Are we doing it to be seen as the kind of person that does the right things for the right reason? Are we trying to get something? It may not even be some sort of immediate physical or material reward. It might just be the opinion, the approval, the validation of someone else. It might be some definition of success that we have in our heads, some definition of being wanted, being whole, being complete that we're trying to establish and maintain through our interactions with other people.

I feel like I say this a lot, but I feel like one of the areas of our life where we can really learn the most, or we can really expand our consciousness the most, is in our own self-awareness. The more self-aware we become, the more aware we become, because the more we know about ourselves, the more we start to realize there's not really that distinctive, a separation between ourselves and others. Most of our behavior, most of what we do, exists in a system, exists in a circuit of inputs and outputs, and we are receiving just as much as we are sending. We are part of this circle. We are part of this cycle. We are part of this system that we interact with every day.

So when we start to become aware of ourselves, when we start to really look at our own intents, one of the ways we can really ground ourselves, really make sure we're telling ourselves the truth, is really to inquire after the feeling of what we're doing, because it can be so easy for our minds to logic away or rationalize some even pretty abhorrent behavior. But we always know how it feels If we're honest with ourselves, if we're really aware, if we're not justifying, if we're not ignoring, if we're not deluding ourselves in some way. We always know how our life feels to us. We always know how interactions feel to us, and thus it's important to actually be honest, to actually feel how what we do actually feels, and then trust that feedback. And that last bit can be pretty challenging. Sometimes we can even think we're doing something for the right reason. We can think we're doing something, we're doing the right thing, but it feels bad, and of course, some situations are so complex. There is no all good or all bad, but we can really look at the dominant feeling, the overriding feeling of our interactions, of our behavior, and learn a lot about how things actually are for us. We can apply this feeling in so many different ways In really every interaction and every relationship in our life.

It's really useful to just pay attention. How does this make me feel If I have an interaction with someone else, someone else I'm in relationship with? Well, how did I feel before the interaction? How I feel after? And then inquire is that a common thing? Is that how it usually goes? Do I have a relationship with someone that consistently and reliably depletes me? Do I have a relationship with someone that consistently and reliably energizes me? How does our life actually feel? How do these interactions actually feel to us?

And if they don't feel good, one of the ways we can bring a little bit of clarity on why that doesn't feel good is to look at our intent, look at what we're trying to actually get, look at what we're actually doing beyond just the behavior, look at our motivations, look at our reasons, look at our justifications, look at our biases, look at our expectations, look at the ways that we may not really be seeing or acknowledging the truth and instead perpetuating a falsehood. Because in my opinion in my experience anyway nothing is more de-energizing than the untrue, than the living, a lie. There's just something about that that just seems to suck energy out of almost any situation. And maybe it's just as simple as we know On some level. We know, we know that this isn't good, we know this isn't right, we know we're being deceitful, we know we're not being honest. Even if we're not being deceitful, we're not being honest with ourselves, that still comes at a cost. There's still a price that has to be paid.

Because one of the funny things about life, or at least one of the consistent things about life, is that it tends to reflect the energy that we put into it. But it isn't so much what we do, it's really far more about how we do it. The energy that we bring into it, the energy that we've latched onto, the energy that we're expressing, tends to get reflected back to us. And if we're going out into life mostly trying to get, mostly trying to consume, mostly trying to extract, then we'll find life reflecting that back to us. We'll find we're not really ever able to really get ahead. We kind of always feel behind the eight ball. We're kind of always being knocked back on our heels. We're never really safe, we're never really secure, we're never really getting anywhere, because what we're creating is almost immediately being washed away or, at the very least, being threatened.

There's not a lot of peace and safety in security when we're living a lie or perpetuating false attitudes, when we're saying things that aren't true, when we're doing things that aren't true, when we're acting out of a sense of trying to get and one of the best remedies, once we spot this behavior is to flip it on its head is to ask ourselves well, what would it be if actually went into situations, actually went into interactions, actually went into relationships trying to give? What would it be if I tried to actually give first and really give fully, with no strings attached? And this might actually take a little bit of practice. This might take a little bit of work, because if we've been used to doing everything in our life trying to get well, we can use that new giving behavior as yet another new and novel and clever way to still try to get. But no, to give, really give. The gift must be given freely, with no strings attached, no expectations, no caveats, no asterisks, just given just for the sake of giving and that's it.

And if we start to entertain these notions and we get a little squirmy or we get some voices in our heads saying, well, but, but, but, but. What if I do that and then I get taken advantage of? Or what if I do that and I lose what I have? Well, that sounds like insecurity to me, that sounds like fear to me, and that insecurity and that fear could very well be justified based on the experiences that we've lived through. And insecurity can actually be pretty logical conclusions to come to.

If we've lived a life of being hurt, we've lived a life of being rejected, if we've lived a life of being harmed, it can be natural to think that that rejection and pain and harm is around every corner, and it's only through our constant vigilance can we possibly avoid it. So if there is this part of ourselves that's hurting, if there is this part of ourselves that's scared, then that part of us needs our immediate attention. And as long as we have that insecurity or that fear within us, giving is actually going to be pretty hard. It's going to feel depleting, it's going to feel risky, it's going to stir up all of these feelings and these emotions. But we can give attention to these parts of ourselves that are afraid, that are insecure, that are harmed, that are hurt. And how do we do that? Well, we can do it in the way that we would do it for any other person, any other person that we cared about, any other person that we wanted to help feel better, that we wanted to nurture, that we wanted to give care for. We can do it in the way we would do it for any child that needed that from us. And we can treat ourselves the same way.

Because one thing I've definitely experienced and definitely witnessed is this going into life, simply trying to get, often leads to not only dissatisfaction but quite a bit of disillusionment, quite a bit of cynicism, that this behavior, repeated enough times, just like any other repeated behavior, tends to reinforce itself, tends to almost self justify. Where we consciously look for evidence why it's okay to do what we're doing. Because reasons, because whatever we witness, whatever we feel we're entitled to, whatever we notice, whatever sort of bad behavior we notice from other people, makes our less than ideal behavior okay too, because at least it's not as bad as that. But there's a thing about acting rightly, there's a thing about trying to be the ideal version of ourselves that we're all really actually striving for is there really are no half measures, there is no, half way.

There is no partial credit that one of the words that I really like is impeccability. I like this word because on one hand it sounds kind of fancy and maybe when I say it people think there's a smart person knowing those big words. But really more than that. The reason why I like a word like impeccability is it means striving after an ideal, but it doesn't imply perfection, it doesn't imply having to be ideal. It's really more about making the ideal amount of effort, about really trying, about not holding back, no half steps, no half measures, no tricks, no hacks, no deception. Acting impeccably, acting above reproach, doing the best that we can.

So if we find ourselves kind of getting caught in the loop, so we find ourselves where our life isn't really giving back, the way that we want or what we're doing just really isn't getting anywhere, it's just not really accomplishing anything. It's kind of like one step forward, one step back, or maybe one and a quarter step forward and one step back. Even if we do make progress, it just seems so slow and lurching. Or if positive rewards do come in, they seem so fleeting and we spend so much time in between of what we're just trying and trying and trying but not really getting anywhere. Well, one of the really useful things we can do is to look at our intent. What are we trying to do? See, what are we trying to get done Really? Are we trying to give? Are we trying to get?

And of course, we all have needs, especially in our culture. We all have bills to pay, we have responsibilities, we have people that we care about. We want to be able to live a good life, and a good life takes resources. But it doesn't mean that we have to put those needs above everything else and it especially doesn't mean that we need to let those needs dissuade us from giving. We also shouldn't be talked out of giving because we're afraid. We're afraid to be hurt, we're afraid to be harmed, we're afraid to be taken advantage of. We feel like we can only get what we want if we make the getting and the achieving and the receiving and the sequestering and the guarding of what we want our top priority. That, at least in my opinion. I don't think life is really as fiercely competitive, as fiercely dangerous and fraught as all that, especially if it's done of a spirit of just trying to give. I don't believe kindness is dangerous. I don't believe kindness is risky, of course, if we're being kind or giving to someone which we really shouldn't be kind or really shouldn't give to, because this person, this interaction, this relationship isn't a good thing, isn't positive, we'll know.

And oftentimes the continued giving or contributing to this sort of person is being done out of our own lack and again we're giving to get that giving true giving giving freely is done from a place of wholeness. You're not trying to get anything because you don't need anything and more than anything else, you're giving just because you want to, just because it feels good, just because it's a nice way to live, it's a nice use of our time, it's a nice use of our resources. But when it really comes down to it, it's also one of the most powerful ways to actually create change in our life, to really make our lives different, is to shift our focus, shift our priority, shift our awareness from getting to giving. Again. This can be a pretty tricky thing because when we hear things like that, again it can be another way for our minds to very cleverly implement giving as yet another way to get. And again we'll know the difference based on how it feels.

Giving freely and giving to get feel very different, and so the thing we have to do is to be aware. The thing we have to do is to feel and then be honest about our feelings. Be honest about what it feels like and if we're afraid to give, it's worthwhile to get over that fear, because being able to give, giving is one of the sublime pleasures of life. Giving freely is one of the best ways to really feel connection with another. There's even a greater feeling to it of when we're really able to give freely. We really feel connected to life as a whole.

But there's just something pretty magical that happens when we switch our focus from consumption to creation, when we stop going through life trying to get and trying to get and trying to get and instead look for opportunities to give. Even if we can move that needle a little bit, even if we can slide that ratio 20%, makes a big difference. But if we do that, it's important to not stop there because we can keep going. There is a really profound reciprocal effect that happens through giving, and when we tend to give more, we tend to receive more, and I know this is the third time I've said this, but it's almost like that's a fact that we have to know and then forget. Because as long as we know that, as long as we know that, oh, one of the ways to get what I want is to give first, then that kind of blows the whole thing up Because again, we're giving to get, we're not really giving fully, we're not really giving freely, we're trying to extract through our gift, we're trying to play a bit of a magic trick, a bit of a deception of how it looks like I'm giving to you but I'm actually taking, maybe not from you, but trying to take somewhere else.

And again, when we do that, there's a negating force to that, because you're trying to give and get at the same time and we can see those energies really do cancel each other out. But the very least, if we put aside any kind of gain that we're going to experience, it's just important to know, it's important to focus on, it's important to really believe and integrate into our experience that giving is good because it feels good. Giving fully feels fully good. And especially if we're trying to create change in our life, even if we're not going into life trying to extract, trying to get. But we really do want change, we really do want things to be different. We want to be living differently than we are now, having different experiences than what we have now. One of the ways we can gain access to that different experience is to try to give, lean into creating that new experience through our own giving, through our own giving freely, especially if it's any sort of creative project that we're trying to undertake. We're trying to make something new, we're trying to experience something new. If we're trying to create some sort of positive change in our life, we're trying to create some sort of growth in our life, one of the best things we can do is orient that change in that growth around giving and seek out opportunities to give and give freely.

Give from the standpoint of even if we get nothing back from it. The giving itself is enough. That's reward enough. It's reward enough because it feels good. It's reward enough because it leads to a good life, because when our life is filled with our own giving and generosity, our life tends to be good, our life tends to be enjoyable, our relationships tend to be positive and nurturing as supporting all because we've seized the sublime and delicious opportunity to give, to give freely, to give without fear, to give without strings attached, to give without needing something back. Giving this way really connects us with our wholeness.

I believe it's because we connect with ourselves on a deep level, on a fundamental level, below our own thinking, below our own material needs, below our own self-centeredness, below our own self-gratification to something more basic, something more fundamental, from the animating energy within us, from who and what we are, at our core. And when we express this part of ourselves, we connect ourselves with this core that exists in everyone else that there's a fundamental good within us and this fundamental good is served through our expression of it. And when we express this fundamental good, it connects us with a fundamental good in others. Because it's one thing to have relationship, it's one thing to have connection with someone else on a personality level, but it's another thing to have relationship with someone else on a deeper level, on a level of our shared fundamental good, fundamental energy, fundamental spirit. That's why they call these kinds of relationships deep, because they're not superficial, they're not material, they're not bound up in gratification or self-centeredness, they're untethered, they're unyoked, they're free.

And so if we want to create some sort of change in our life, we're just kind of frustrated with the way things are going, we're frustrated at work, we're frustrated in our relationships, we're frustrated in our experiences, and it's an interesting experiment at least can be an enjoyable use of time of what would happen in that given situation or circumstance if I went into it trying to give. What would happen if I set down my own needs for a minute? If I set down my own wants, if I set down my own striving get and just tried to give? How would that be different? How would this situation be different? How would this interaction be different? How would this environment be different? How would the circumstance be different? How would this relationship be different? If my interaction with it, if my contribution to it, was to give instead of just trying to get? How would the energy of this interaction or circumstance or situation be changed If I change my energy from one of trying to get or trying to extract, trying to take, and instead changed it trying to give, trying to contribute, trying to support, trying to nurture, trying to grow?

Because we all know the difference in the way we're treated. We all know the difference of how it feels in an interaction with someone else, of when they're trying to get versus when they're trying to give. They couldn't be more different. The difference is obvious and profound. It can be the same way in our life. Those differences are obvious and profound by the way they feel. And so if we look at the tenor of our life, if we look at the way that our life feels and we ask ourselves well, our life actually feels more like trying to take, trying to get than trying to give. And we can change the feeling of our life. We can make our lives different by shifting our focus, shifting our priority, shifting our orientation to our interactions from one of trying to get to one of trying to give.

In fact, this has been my experience that this is one of the ways to create the most profound change in situations. Even if we have a job that we hate our bosses a jerk, our coworkers are maddening. If we can just, for one day, go into that situation trying to give, put all of our resentments down, put all of our umbrage down, no matter how justified we are, no matter how right we are, and instead just try to give and see what happens that, yes, we may need a different job, yes, this may be a toxic and unhealthy environment. It would be a very good thing if we were no longer in, but for right now we are. So maybe try something different. Maybe try to shift the focus away from all the things we're not getting towards or what opportunities do I have to give and to give freely and again, just to do it.

Just because it feels better, just because it makes me feel more like a human, it makes me feel more whole, it gives me fewer things to complain about at the end of the day. It shifts my focus of all my laments and umbrage and resentments and all of the mental cruft that I drag home with me every day and just shifts it to something different, shifts it to something better. I can focus on something I can actually do, because I can't make a new job happen overnight. But I can approach the job I have totally differently. I can find ways to be kind, I can find ways to give, I can find ways to be grateful because, no matter how terrible a situation is, there's something to be grateful for, there's some opportunity to give, there's some opportunity to be kind. And the question is are we seizing these opportunities? And if there's part of us that says, well, they don't deserve our kindness, I think that's a little bit of that self-centeredness, talking Focus a little too much on what we're not getting and maybe just for a minute we can just put all that down. Let's give that a break and try something different. Try to see what happens when we give.

If we wanna create change, look for opportunities where we can give, where we can contribute, where we can give freely, because sometimes that's the worst part, but our lives becoming small, about becoming incredibly isolated, incredibly lonely as we don't have anyone to give to. Well, this is something we can fix. There's always opportunities to give. There's always opportunities to be kind. There are always opportunities to contribute. There are always opportunities for us to flip the ratio of our life between our own consumption and our own creation, our own taking and our own giving, and we can choose to seize these opportunities whenever we wish. But especially if we're trying to create change, especially if we want things to go better in our life, especially if we want more better things in our life, one of the best things we can do is shift our focus, shift our perspective from trying to get to trying to give.

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