The Selfish Balance: Giving and Receiving

img_2336In several conversations today I’ve found myself discussing the balance between giving and receiving. Often we find it much more easy to give. Is that because getting something for ourselves is selfish?

One of the definitions I found for the word selfish is “(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” It’s a powerful statement. Do I want act as a person who doesn’t think about others. How will I know if I do? Or should I make sure that everything I do is for the benefit of others? What if there are so many people wanting  me to do things that I can’t do them all? I know that all my life I have been trying to solve this conundrum. How do I balance my needs with the needs of others. And what do I do if they don’t agree with what I can give them?

Or what about when I feel it’s my turn to receive back what I have given? Perhaps not even directly. But when is it ok to take instead of give? If I’m not careful I could drift into victim or martyr mode. Then my ability to give would be very much hampered by my reluctance to do so. Balance is surely about being able to give what you can freely and without a need to collect a reward. But then so is receiving. I would hope to receive freely and without the need to give a reward. In a system that balanced up in energy terms – a closed system – what goes around would surely come back around.

Perhaps that is at the heart of this issue. It’s not exactly a closed system.

There are people who pull the giving energy towards themselves. Are they being selfish? I don’t really know any more. I think that word has come to mean something judgemental and harsh. We do need to be open to helping one another. However, I also feel that we need to recognise when a hand up has been taken as a hand out. Of course I find it hard to stop giving. Most of us do. Yet are the people we are giving to passing on the giving energy? Today I weaved through a conversation where guilt also entered the equation. It’s so easy to say that someone is not giving enough or at all. To ignore all the energy that has been expended.

With this mindset it’s much easier to say it is the fault of the person doing the giving. I know in my past I have looked at what I have been given in this way. Now I also recognise that some of the time I was wrong. Some of the time I was expecting the other person to rescue me. Or protect me. Even to come along and make my life both easy and perfect. Of course that never happened. What I didn’t see was that I had passed off the responsibility for my life to other people. When they got tired of giving I was back where I started. I believe that has been one of my biggest lessons in my spiritual growth.

Looking at myself as honestly as possible I explored what being selfish meant. I acknowledged that I needed to find the balancing point.

Those I choose to give to might not agree. I accept that. They may still want me to continue the energy hand-outs. I know I have to help them, perhaps by withdrawing my energy, to be self-sufficient. After all, that is what we aim for all of our lives. Because when I am responsible for myself I can give far more. I can give time, love, energy to myself so that I am also energised enough to give the same to others. That is the balancing trick. To let myself be on the receiving end of what I am able to give. Able to put my needs into the equation too. To reject the definitions of selfishness that are imposed by others. And finally, to seek out all the ways I can receive and give for the benefit of everyone, myself included.

Day 363 of my blogging challenge. 

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