Give and take, Part I

The psychology of giving and receiving is an over-trodden path, I know, and I intend to get off at the next exit.  But the concept of giving and getting has been bugging me to do something with it, to give it some kind of treatment in relation to motives of mine that recently got highlighted.  There’s something to be worked out and written down that may be of some value.

So far I’ve not been able to nail that squirming something down.  It’s got tentacles—myriad, multi-angular thoughts around giving and receiving—so many that I can’t organize them.  An idea will come to me, not the idea I’m trying to nail down, but a good idea, and maybe where it fits will be revealed to me later.  So my brain, like a border collie, rounds it up and into the herd of other not-quite-it thoughts.  Thoughts keep coming rapidly, some of them unruly, some like slugs, sometimes in twos and threes, and soon the border collie looks more like a neurotically spinning circus dog in its efforts to round up, herd, and sort the incoming ideas while trying to keep the existing ideas from wandering off.

The thoughts started out in the world of weblogs, what is given and received there, and the quality of what is given and received, in direct relation or not.  These same thoughts seemed to bar-hop down the street to a dive in the world of psychology where they began to explore the true reason behind giving and receiving.

Do we, even though we say we don’t, give just so we can get?  Because even if we’re compelled to give to someone in need, we will get something.  At the very least, we’ll likely get a good feeling from having given wholeheartedly.  So even in the case of that seemingly purer form of giving, what’s happening on the ground floor?  Is that kind of giving something that just happens of itself and what we get, the good feeling, is a mere byproduct?  Or do humans subconsciously give to get even when they’re not admittedly giving to get?

Does giving and receiving involve these different levels—giving for the sole purpose of getting; giving spontaneously, without thought of reward; and attempting to receive without having to give anything—or are there more or fewer levels?

And why is this topic so touchy?  What’s behind it psychologically?  A large number of us feel we need to masquerade as giving-just-to-give saints.  I try to, for the most part.  When did we ever say we shouldn’t give to get?  Because that’s what naturally happens.  We learn by default that if we give, we’ll get.  The entire world seems to be powered by the energy around this exchange, this give-and-take, give-and-get, sow-and-reap.

We learn that if we plant high quality seeds, high quality crops will grow.  If we give something to someone—a gift, a blessing, a compliment, a thought expressed in a way or at an angle that’s meaningful—unconditionally from the heart, whether we want it or not, care or not, odds are that we’ll receive equal or greater.  Maybe not today, maybe not next month, but we find that what we dish out will come back at us.  So what is so bad about giving to get if you’re giving something of value because you want something of value?  Anything?

The preceding thoughts progressed to thoughts about what we’re trying to get and the reason we’re trying to get it.  And if we truly get real, if we come to terms with the real reason we’re giving and the real reasons behind what we want and why we want it, will we still want the same things?   

Stay tuned…

Photos from Getty Images

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2 responses to “Give and take, Part I

  1. I’ve thought about this often in the context of blogging because to me it seems a lot more obvious in this context, almost like a Lab experiment.
    Sometimes it does feel like people drop by on the blog and just say hi, expecting you to visit theirs and comment in return. Not that it isn’t fair…but could we simply be spontaneous about it?
    On other contexts I’m not sure I feel the same. I really enjoy giving and I feel that I receive simply by giving. I’ll be back to read part II.

  2. Devil: yes, well said. Here where we write, let us please give and take the gift of spontaneity! It’s my prerogative to say what I want to say on my blog, but when I step onto another’s turf, it’s their prerogative to respond or not. It’s the same as meeting people in person—here you still can get a sense of their aura, and some auras don’t mix, but when they do, it’s an awesome give and take! :-)

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