In some way none of us will do anything unless we get something out of it but true joy in life comes from giving without a guarantee of receiving anything in return. Like unconditional love.
If you find yourself being conditional in the gifts you give people i.e. I gave you x, you owe me y then your gift was not given unconditionally.
I think self-centered people often wind up taking the Dictator role in relationships. Especially if they’re paired with a giver. This is where `who gets what and how much` is always determined by the taker, the other partner gets whatever the taker decides they’ll get. And that’s that.
This inevitably leads to unhappiness for the taker’s partner. And a failing relationship.
This fascinating study ‘Reciprocity is Not Give and Take’ illustrates a powerful reason why takers kill relationships. With a series of experiments, a team at the University of Chicago found that when it comes to social relationships, including intimate relationships, when one side gives, the other side can give equally and both parties feel satisfied.
But when one side takes, and then in return the other side takes the same or receives something of equal value, then the dictator (sorry I mean the taker) is the only happy one left. The other party who was initially taken from is still not happy. It’s just human nature.
So to sum this up, the only relationship that can work and flourish is two givers. But watch out, there are still ways being a giver can be bad for you.
Make sure you’re a giver, and not a matcher – someone who remembers every little thing they gave and expects the equal amount in return, or they’re just not happy. This Psychology Today article explains the matcher nicely.
Very often such matchers don’t even express all the things they feel the other party owes them and they become martyrs – always giving, giving, giving and feeling sad and frustrated because the world just isn’t giving back. See my earlier post on martyrs here. Don’t become one!
In any relationship the giver is the happiest and also potentially the unhappiest.
Just make sure you’re with another giver, not a taker or a matcher. And the best way to be is always strive to give unconditionally, expecting nothing in return. Except perhaps that warm feeling of giving to someone you love.
Give from the heart because you want to. I think you’ll agree that’s true love and the foundation of something beautiful.
And at the same time respect yourself, don’t be taken disadvantage of and make sure you’re receiving unconditional love too. Not in a tit-for-tat way. But just be aware of it.
When you’re conscious of this you’ll know if your partner is playing the role of a taker and dictator. And you can communicate it to them if they are, because they’re probably unaware of it.
When your partner gives love and is happy, regardless, you know it’s no strings attached giving. And when you mess up, make poor choices, get in your partner’s way, take a wrong turn or sabotage your own happiness and you’re partner’s not disappointed or irritated. And stays right with you, without judging or punishing. That’s another sign you’re not with a taker.
So, are you a taker or a giver in your relationships?
Share your thoughts!
Almost as much, perhaps even as much, as our minds do.
We spend all our time working our brain and the rest of our body to boost our emotions, but we may be ignoring half the cause of problems. Isn’t it exciting to think that we can literally feel happier and emotionally stronger, even boost our immune system and overall health, just by taking better care of our gut?
If you’re feeling down, anxious, depressed, or just want a big old boost of happiness-inducing serotonin, it turns out your gut most likely has a huge influence over it all, as its proposed in this very entertaining Huffington Post article.
You’ve probably heard of our friends the ‘good bacteria’ battling it out against the ‘bad bacteria’ in our digestive tract – our second brain. Well, the state of these micro flora and how well the good bacteria are doing determines a whole host of health-related factors.
For example, good bacteria decides how well the toxic by-products of your digestion are neutralized and whether harmful pathogenic bacteria or other substances are prevented or allowed to grow. And it determines how much hormone production there is and many other factors that affect the health of your immune system.
That’s right. You have two nervous systems – one is the central nervous system we all know and love, which is in your brain and spinal cord. But you also have the ‘enteric’ nervous system, which is in your gastrointestinal tract – your gut.
Through this whole system your brain and gut are connected and the bacteria in your gut sends messages to the brain through the nervous system. These messages affect your mood, and you know the surprising part?
Your gut sends your brain more messages than the other way around. Your gut sends instructions on how to make you feel all day long. And since we can influence those messages, it’s something we should pay attention to, wouldn’t you agree?
You have neurons in your gut, which is another reason we call it the second brain. And these neurons produce neurotransmitters like serotonin – the primary chemical responsible for your feelings of well-being and happiness. We all know that, right?
But here’s another surprise. Serotonin is found in larger quantities in the gut than in the brain. So let’s influence our primary serotonin-producing environment in our gut and make more of it!
You may have experienced stomach pains or irritable bowel syndrome during times of great anxiety. There’s clearly a strong relationship between anxiety and the health of our gut.
There is even a strong line of scientific work proposing that certain probiotics can affect levels of proinflammatory cytokines and tryptophan in the gut, which have been implicated in depression.
“OK, I get it! So how do I start improving my gut?!” I hear you ask.
Well, that’s the next stage of my investigation. And don’t worry, I’ll share my findings with you as I go.
Perhaps you already have some ideas.
Share them with us!
It’s an art form that’s well worth cultivating. It brings so many benefits to our lives, which is of course why so many people do their very best to excel at it.
Misery doesn’t bring you a better life in any of the shallow, flighty, surface ways people talk about like more friendship, love and lovers. Better relationships with your family, spouse or children. It doesn’t improve your career, financial situation, health, stability, fulfillment or joy of life.
It doesn’t make you happier – well of course it doesn’t; that would be defeating the point!
The many benefits of being miserable
But this fine craft does allow you to feel superior and special in a way other people just don’t understand, which is fantastic. You can become a martyr overnight with a bit of misery – the innocent victim who tries so, so hard to be happy (not too hard though, be careful) and then the world just seems to conspire against you. You poor thing.
In an age where we have relative peace and prosperity, and more opportunities than ever before, it can be quite hard to find ways to feel like the beaten-down underdog. Misery solves that problem in a jiffy!
You get sooo much attention
And this is the greatest benefit of all: being miserable gets you so much attention and compassion. Big-hearted and guilt-prone people especially will feel compelled to help you, to listen to you, to feel sorry for you. Here’s the best part: people feel vaguely guilty around you too.
You’re sure to always have company. Misery loves company, and you make people more and more miserable around you. Some will leave you, but never mind about them. They just don’t get it.
And there’s more! You come across as so wise and worldly, because you notice all the crap in the world. You are the first to see what’s wrong with everything and every idea. And you stop people just when they were about to blindly run forwards happily into something fun, without paying due attention to what could go wrong.
You’re like a profound, tragic guru of worldly wisdom. How awesome is that!
And you never experience disappointment or disillusion, because you never expect or hope for anything in the first place. You never experience loss or deep pain because you get rid of meaningful love from your life in the first place.
“I get it! I’m sold! So how do I get good at being miserable!?” I hear you cry. Here are a few tips to set you on your way.
How to be miserable – your quick 10-step guide
If anything good happens and you accidentally notice it, make sure you see it as being temporary and as small as possible. Like a glitch in the system.
When something bad happens, make sure you notice and express how terrible it was, and how it happened because it always happens, and the effects will last forever. Here’s a tip: the more you talk about it, the more a problem lasts and spreads.
Turn innocent remarks into calculated insults from horrible people who intended to cause pain. See attempted attacks and offence behind everything.
Never just do something for someone else unless you can get something out of it. Make sure you point out how everyone else giving to others is doing it for themselves too.
Talk about how close you are to being broke all the time. Worry consistently about losing your job. Watch the news and find all the evidence you can that you are on the brink of bankruptcy and destruction.
If you have any personal problems, make them the only things that matter about you. Become a Depressed Person, an Anxious Person, etc. Oh, and of course make sure those problems last longer and get bigger.
Gratitude has no place in the life of a true misery master. There’s nothing in this world to be grateful for – make that your mantra.
Always remember, your life was set out before you even had a chance. Your parents messed you up, so that’s that. They are the cause of all your shortcomings and failures.
Take no pleasure in the beautiful, lovely things in life. Good conversation, art, wine, music, beauty. Leave that to shallow, pathetic happy people who just don’t understand.
Ruminate and regret. Think and talk incessantly about every little problem you might have in your character, or something that happened to you. Don’t let anything go! All that mostly-imagined baggage is precious – and the key to a glorious life of absolute misery.
Here’s one extra bonus tip – always pretend you want to be happy. Pretend to yourself too. If you start admitting that deep down you’re trying to be miserable – well, you might just start thinking how absurd it all is and become happy instead.
And that would ruin everything!
Well, time to cheer up – here’s how anyone can learn to love the love month. The thing to remember is that a romantic relationship is not just about sex. It’s about intimacy too, in all its many guises.
Love and intimacy are actually around you all the time in different forms. The problem is, as human beings in our society, we are attached to love or intimacy in a particular form or package.
If it isn’t tall, dark and handsome with the name ‘boyfriend’ OR hot and sexy with the name ‘girlfriend’ then we reject it. And when we do that, we fail to see just how much love we have in our life so we wind up running around spitting at couples and cursing at happy matches because we feel angry about being single.
Love is all around and perhaps you don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend but you will have 4-5 amazing people in your life who provide love in its different ways.
This feeling we have of a need for love is actually a need for the various components of love and intimacy, and when we reject and shut off these things because they do not fit some sort of socially accepted package, we are stopping ourselves from enjoying a huge amount of pleasure endorphins and overall feelings of wellbeing.
If you break down the components of a romantic relationship, you might find you have a lot of love around. Here are some examples.
Your mother/father/the dude you watch football with/a friend you watch movies with or collect stamps with – who provides companionship in your life? You get this in many places.
Who do you get snuggles from? Perhaps a beloved pet, a huggy friend, your mother/father or a giant teddy bear. You could volunteer at a shelter or go visit a dogs’ home or buy a giant pink panther teddy bear. You could even put a sign up that you will give away free hugs to get your snuggle time. The simple act of snuggling releases endorphins – doesn’t matter who or what with.
Who makes you laugh? Don’t tell me no one makes you laugh in your life! Surround yourself with gigglers or go try out some Laughter Yoga.
Find someone in your life who really listens to you and gets you. You already know this person and perhaps you don’t spend enough time with him or her. Schedule that in.
When you are single, it’s tricky to get the romance fix BUT there are probably single people in your life you can flirt with so find them and flirt with them.
If you are brave and put yourself out there into environments where you are in close physical contact with new people, it might just creep up on you. Join a dance class and try out that tango with a hunky man, or go to a dating event and simply enjoy the spark of getting to know new people.
See how much easier the love month is to bear when you break it down and find the components?
Go and get the intimacy you need. It’s all there just waiting for you!
Lots of hugs
Instead of the usual suspects of exercise more, get out of debt, save more, drink less, eat more healthily, etc. how about committing to taking on the habits of thought and action that will make you more powerful in 2015?
After all, without a foundational strength of character what chance do any of your other resolutions have of succeeding? Not much!
If you can adopt even one of these lessons, you’ll find it far easier to gain control over your life, your emotions, and all your relationships this year – not least your relationship with yourself.
So in 2015, let’s:
1. Stop being a victim
Stop being caught up in getting attention by playing the victim or trying to tell everyone your sob stories. Focus instead on solving the issues and problems in your life as quickly as possible, and moving on.
2. Stop whining
Losers always whine about the reasons why they didn’t achieve something. Winners simply work out what they can learn from the experience, count it as a step towards their goal, put it from their mind and move on.
3. Learn to bounce back
Failure is not getting down, it’s staying down. Failure is simply feedback so see it as that and work on your resilience in bouncing back quickly.
4. Stop being a drama queen
Don’t see every little thing that happens as so significant and create dramas out of small things. It’s an addiction! Stop doing it – keep things small and move on.
5. Live with integrity
Focus on your personal integrity and honoring your values, ethics and agreements with people and yourself. Especially with yourself.
6. Stop just doing what you ‘feel’ like
Powerful people don’t run their lives based on what they ‘feel’ like doing at any given moment. Powerful people value their commitments and their agreements with themselves and others and when they don’t ‘feel’ like doing something they ignore those feelings and do what they agreed to do anyway.
7. Communicate with clarity
Powerful people communicate clearly and powerfully, without drama. They make requests and never make excuses for why things don’t happen.
8. Speak with power
Focus on making eye contact with people when you talk to them, lift your chin and speak in a clear audible voice. Softly spoken people are very dominating to those around them as everyone needs to lean in to hear them. It’s subtle manipulative control vs. clear powerful behavior.
9. Stop feeling sorry for yourself
The universe doesn’t care about your bad day and neither does anyone else. Pick yourself up and keep moving forward.
10. Stop gossiping
Never talk badly about other people. Bored people talk about other people. Powerful people talk about the big games, projects and exciting things they are doing in their lives.
11. Stop worrying if others like you or not
Stop giving a damn about everyone liking you. There is a clear T-junction when it comes to this point – you can focus on being liked or you can make a difference in life. Both of these items cannot always be true together.
12. Stop complaining when life isn’t fair
Life isn’t fair so people will talk about you behind your back and be horrible even if you don’t deserve it and have always been nice and supportive to them.
This is because most people will only do whatever they do to forward things for themselves so don’t expect that your good deeds and actions for others will always come back to you. Simply do your good deeds and actions for your own reasons and not to get anything back – this way you won’t be disappointed or constantly feel hard done by.
Think you can take on the challenge and become far more powerful this year? I know you can.
Let this be a wonderful, empowering 2015!
Share your thoughts below!
When I was little, I had a bull terrier named Porgie. I loved her so much so, that I would greet her on all fours, hide her in my bed so she wouldn’t be cold and even come home and climb into her dog basket with her. She was an absolutely mental dog and I loved her craziness and zaniness. Porgie however, was no ordinary dog. She harbored a secret.
Not only did she chase her tail with joy, sit in the pantry and slip in her own drool waiting for a dog biscuit and eat noisily like each meal was her last, she had an inner wisdom which far exceeded her dog years.
I truly believe that Porgie was a guru in a previous lifetime.
Every few months, Porgie would be in a bad mood. Who knows what caused it – perhaps hormones, a phantom pregnancy, or Pluto aligning incorrectly with Venus. When this happened, she would go to the bottom of the garden and go dig a hole. She would then crawl into this ‘Porg-hole’ and growl if anyone came near her. I would attempt to coax her out with food but she didn’t come out and she let me know that I was not welcome. 3-4 days later, she would come out of the hole, cover it up and come bounding back as if nothing had happened.
In today’s society, we don’t ever allow ourselves to dwell in a bad mood. We are told to ‘snap out of it’, ‘cheer up’ and be happy. The dawn of Emotional Intelligence has created an international outbreak of suppressed human beings who don’t allow themselves to just be grumpy and to just be with their grumpiness, unhappiness or depression until is passes. Instead we must apply an emotional avoidance trigger or tranquilize ourselves with alcohol, drugs or antidepressants until ‘rational intelligence returns’.
GROWL. What Daniel Goleman didn’t realize when he wrote his NY Times bestseller ‘Emotional Intelligence’, was that he helped contribute to the mass suppression of emotions which is commonplace in today’s society. Instead of expressing raw emotions, feeling them authentically, crying, screaming and just being grumpy when we feel grumpy, we are expected to be cool, calm, collected robots who smile politely, play political ping pong with the sales guy we hate and certainly don’t flinch in the boardroom when someone missed a deadline and messed up our project.
Your EQ is now more important than your IQ as this man managed to convince and advise nations that suppression is healthy, balanced and somehow good for us.
In describing the importance of acknowledging our emotional states, American psychologist Dr Maurice Elias says, “Emotions are human beings, i.e. warning systems as to what is really going on around them. Emotions are our most reliable indicators of how things are going in our lives. Emotions help keep us on the right track by making sure that we are led by more than the mental/intellectual faculties of thought, perception, reason, and memory.”
In her article titled ‘How to Understand, Express and Release your Emotions’, author Mary Kurus, a renowned psychologist based in New York, writes that emotions control our thinking, behavior and actions. If you ignore, dismiss or repress your feelings, you’re setting yourself up for physical illness.
The understanding is that emotions that are not felt and released can spawn a host of ailments: cancers, arthritis, and many types of chronic illnesses. The explanation is that negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, negativity, frustration and depression cause chemical reactions in our bodies that are very different from the chemicals released when we feel positive emotions such as happiness and contentment and also when we’re feeling loved and accepted.
When we have an experience that is painful or difficult we often dismiss the emotions or bury them under busyness, exercise, comfort eating or drinking. The problem is that our suppressed emotions don’t like being hidden. Our negative feelings stay with us; in the muscles, ligaments, stomach and midriff. These emotions remain buried within us until we allow ourselves to feel them and deal with them, thereby releasing them.
Short Term Emotion Avoidance Triggers (STEATs) and other ‘methods’ we use to suppress or avoid our emotions:
You cannot control your emotions BUT truly acknowledging them and feeling them, allows them to move on
You cannot change or control your emotions. Think of the people who trundle along day after day, seeming to function normally. And then one day they’ll suddenly explode over something seemingly trivial or harmless. This behavior is a result of a pressure-cooker syndrome; apply a little heat in the form of a tense situation and repressed emotions boil over. The more you try to control your emotions the more your emotions resist. Eventually you lose emotional control. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s not popular in today’s society to express negative emotions in public. Seeming out of control is interpreted as a sign of weakness. We’re often uncomfortable around people who express strong emotions. As a society we’re taught to hide our emotions, to be ashamed of them and to be afraid of them.
We spend a great deal of time talking ‘about’ our feelings and emotions and very little time actually processing and feeling them. We attend workshops, visit therapists, and they describe how we feel.
We talk and talk about our emotions, intellectualizing and analyzing them, but how much time do we actually spend feeling them?
We are emotional creations and we must learn how to know our emotions, be with them, and release them in healthy ways.
Although I disagree with Daniel Goleman and his thoughts on intellectualizing our emotions before we give ourself permission to feel them – taking out our frustrations on others is also not particularly evolved. I know he wrote his book to prevent irrational rants in the workplace but the problem is we have become deader and more resigned than ever. Depression rates have never been so high as they are today and some psychologists believe that depression is simply long term suppression of emotion.
So Porgie had it right after all.
Feeling crabby? Go dig a hole away from others and go BE crabby and do not stop being crabby until you feel pruney with your crabbiness. Growl. Its really fun actually. Surrender to the emotions, feel them and be them until they naturally pass and peel away like layers of an onion. The crabiness is concealing a deep sadness, fear or anger so get to the root cause of your emotion so you can release the tension in your body and prevent long term illness from happening.
So, to hell with your EQ, smiling when you don’t mean it and fake bubbliness- its plastic and weird. Let people know how you feel in life. Give yourself permission to be a glorious crabby depressed mess until you are sick to death of it. Give yourself permission to climb into a Porg hole today – you will feel a hellava lots happier tomorrow and guarantee longer healthier life too.
Thanks be to Guru Porgie…
Till next time
And you ate the cookie, got distracted and yes you did actually feel a bit better. For ten minutes. Then the pain came back, and it was time for another cookie.
Does this sound at all familiar? If that child was you, perhaps you grew up to associate fixing your emotions with food, or other short term distractions. Instead of facing the pain and actually healing properly. The fact is:
The example of the daughter and her cookie comes from John James and Russell Friedman’s great book ‘The Grief Recovery Handbook’, where they talk about confronting your emotions rather than filling your life with things that fill your time, but only provide a short-term relief.
When you eat that cookie the fact is there’s no emotional completion of the pain caused by the event. The event and all the feelings associated with it are simply buried. Ready to keep coming up throughout your life no matter how many cookies you eat.
Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics (STEATs) are things you do to avoid feeling the pain, numb the pain, or to take the pain away in the short term. They are often escapism-type activities where you keep SO focused and busy that there is no time to think.
They help you feel better in each moment BUT you’re not feeling better for real – it’s a false sense of security – a false feeling of recovery. And if you fill your life up with lots of STEATs your healing will not progress.
The sad thing is that for most people struggling to get over their divorce they’re engaging in a cycle of feeling the pain, applying a STEAT, feeling the pain, applying another STEAT, until over time they feel numb and they think this numbness is them healed from their divorce.
STEATs prolong the emotional roller-coaster of your divorce. So you never fully grieve for long enough or experience the loss critical to healing for real. Your emotional roller coaster will go up and down, up and down. Until you stop. And start to heal for real.
It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself.
Try to identify two short-term relief activities you’ve been doing to distract yourself and displace your feelings since your divorce or break up. This can be a lot harder than it seems, but it’s going to take your absolute commitment to honesty to truly heal.
Here are some common examples: Excessive socializing. Over-exercising. Fantasy or escapism activities (books, TV, movies). Shopping/retail therapy. Work and becoming a workaholic. Pretending something hasn’t happened. Overeating. Eating foods loaded with sugar and fat (‘comfort eating’). Excessive drinking of alcohol. Excessive use of recreational drugs. Using prescription drugs such as tranquilizers or antidepressants.
The list is endless, and it could be something totally unique for you.
So, what STEATs do You use?
Can you share a few with the world?
I’d love to hear them!