In relationships, have you ever felt you are expressing all the interest and it doesn’t come back the other way? You give, give, give, and get nothing in return? In conversation, are you the one to ask questions of others, taking the time to draw them out and hear all about them, while they never ask anything about you? Have you sometimes felt you want to be acknowledged, just to feel like you exist for yourself, and not just for what you do for them? Do you sometimes feel that it is not worth the effort, when you are not getting anything back? Are you frustrated that they don’t even seem to notice this disparity?
The Bible says very clearly, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I am learning that when people are self-focused and not expressing interest in you, they are just cutting themselves off from that blessing. It has nothing to do with you that they are refusing to bless themselves. This is an important understanding. Let it sink in, and remember it. Continue to give, and get those spiritual blessings for yourself. Meanwhile, seek out being with those that know how to bless themselves in this way by generously giving too, simply because they are way more fun to be with.
People-pleasing is a big problem for some of the clients in my spiritual practice. Those people were probably brought up to not be “selfish” but that has gotten all convoluted and mixed up with thinking they should not try to get what they need. Co-dependence – where people get trapped in unhealthy, one-sided relationships, obsequiously depending on another to feel useful or valid–is a pervasive problem. Because of that, I encourage you to be a gracious giver, but to do so wisely. The Bible cautions us not to “cast our pearls before swine.” Be judicious about where, how, and why you give, and do it from a place of strength and love, not from a place of trying to prove your worth.
Remember that you are already totally worthy, right out of the gate. You were made that way, already approved by God, who stamped you “very good,” from the very beginning, as we’re told in the first chapter of Genesis, and you’ve never been dropped out of the palm of God’s hand since.
One important aspect of spiritual healing is to get the idea of “self” and identity down right. In Christian Science we have a term called “unselfing” which is a boon to whoever can understand it. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, talks about us finding and abiding in our “unselfed better self.” She asks, “What has not unselfed love achieved for the race?”
When someone is having trouble getting past a problem or struggling to be healed, very often there is too much self involved, or a wrong sense of self.
Some people have not accrued enough of the blessings that come hand in hand with giving, and are therefore operating at a deficit. They need to go the extra mile more for someone else, put themselves in someone else’s shoes, realize that God is in control and not themselves, that God knows best and God’s will is what will be done, that God has already approved them and no other approval is needed, and that God is the source of all good. Mrs Eddy calls self-will, self-justification, and self-love the “adamant of error…which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death.” We don’t want that!
Unselfing is about realizing we are a God-focused reflection, literally God’s image and likeness, and not anything of ourselves. We need to know how to receive all of God’s gifts, which is how our needs are met, and the place from which we give back. But when we give, it is not about ourselves, but rather manifesting the magnanimity of the way God does things.
Oddly, unselfing is as much about owning that you already have all good, as it is about getting rid of anything. You are only releasing a false sense that was never yours to begin with, one that has impeded you and tripped you up, and is nothing that you want. This is why for some people, unselfing looks more like standing up for what they need in ways they may not have been doing. They are stepping out of a false sense of diminished self, into possessing all the wonderful gifts they have to give, as well as facing the fact that maybe they have not been bequeathing Gods gifts in the right places or in the right ways.
The more that you can give to others from the gifts that God has given you, and receive from God the blessings of that giving, the healthier, happier, and freer you will be. One of the ways I describe it is what I call “giving of my light, and not of my oil.” That kind of giving never depletes. That’s where the balance between good self-care and generous, selfless giving resides.
Don’t allow yourself to be trampled or ignored, your light to be misused, or to let it go out by remaining in situations that don’t float your boat. Curate where you invest your giving to where it is the most effective, appreciated, and fulfilling. Nurture yourself with healthy self-care to keep your light lit. Then let it shine, shine, shine!
And regarding those self-focused others that haven’t yet figured out what a blessing it is to be interested in or care about you? Let is be as water sluicing off your back. It’s about them on their journey, and not an aspersion cast on you. They’ll figure out someday the blessings that come from giving, but it doesn’t have to be on your watch. Don’t bother to keep on pouring water into a bucket that has a hole at the bottom.
Keep on reflecting God anyway and reaping the blessings. That’s the only relationship that will really satisfy anyway.