One of my favorite terms to use in my work is “giving to get.”
It’s when we give with strings attached to someone or something else.
It’s not always an item, money or something tangible; we often give our time, do favors (people please), allow behavior we don’t like and other forms of anything, which places us in position to receive our validation this way.
Personally, I’ve come to a ton of awareness over the years, in how I have operated in this way, but lately, my epiphanies have been around, how some people I attracted to my life would give to get with me.
This pattern usually starts in our family of origin.
We find by acting or giving in a certain way, we get what we THINK we want, which is some form of love or validation. In essence, someone says, “we’re okay” and then we feel accepted into the tribe. This often leads to some form of over-achievement, or having no boundaries or self-acceptance of our own feelings.
What’s the difference between giving to get, and just plain giving without expectation?
We feel someone owes us or we need to be recognized in some way (some celebs give money for publicity), this is not altruistic nor is it actually meaningful; it’s a form of trying to get validation.
When we give, as let’s say a friend who helps without being asked, by sharing their oxygen mask, the expectation is on the act of helping, not on the future accolades or gratitude that must be given in return.
When we give of ourselves over and over to someone hoping for a reward for putting up with their nasty behavior, we are giving to get. We blame the other person for holding our happiness in their hands. No one’s happiness belongs in the possession of another. Yet, I’ve heard from individuals in my professional and personal life all about how “someone has done something to me,” which creates a victimized mentality.
Where can anyone find power in themselves when they are giving it away to get validation that never lasts anyway?
I think of people I’ve thanked a bazillion times for their help, including my parents, but it’s never enough. They want to abuse the right, they feel they earned by giving in either how they believe I should treat them, or what I should give to them.
And people who give in this way, sabotage not only the relationship, but validate their belief of their own worth. It’s a painful cycle.
Whether it’s money or something mimicking love (love is free without attachment), we give so much of ourselves or our bank account, we create a deficit that must be filled…and yet we create situations, which make it impossible to be re-filled, on purpose.
It happens all the time, if we don’t pay attention to the signs; we allow people into our lives, based off the familiarity of our initial relationships.
Some of us think (I was one for a very long time) that if someone believes we shit gold bricks, then they must recognize something in us, which we don’t see in ourselves.
And if it’s extreme, as though we’re to be convinced that the feelings we’re receiving are genuine, they’re not. It’s not to say someone can’t like us and put us on a pedestal, it’s to say they’re giving to get. Whether it’s in complements, words of adoration, listening to us vent, money, gifts, or crossing over their personal boundaries….it’s all to receive some validation.
For the receiver, we may think it’s assuring us we’re okay…even when we feel somewhat funky with all that attention. I had this cycle for years, until I really started to lay down some boundaries, which meant I attracted very few who were giving to get with me.
And on the other hand, I gave to get in my romantic relationships….all the time.
I was the perfect housewife, mother, lover, friend, etc…giving, giving, giving and it was never enough…and I never felt good when I’d be proving my wonderfulness….I’d become resentful, angry and tired. I’d assume and personalize everyone else, all the time.
It’s not just an imbalance, it’s a call to see where we’re begging for validation, for love…to receive the outcome we want.
Our opportunity lies in giving love and validation to ourselves; this is where many cannot shift their focus from the other person to themselves.
Awareness of our patterns, asking why we allow ourselves to act in an extreme way, will usually give an opening to old wounds, beliefs and the patterns we’ve created to stay in this self-destructive place. We believe we deserve to destruct, that our value is minimal, when we give all of ourselves away to receive anything in return.