Giving To Get; A Self-Destructive Way to Validate


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.







Expectations? Who’s got em’?

Kiss me

Expectations have turned into somewhat of a dirty word in most circles.

We either look at why can’t we be satisfied with the present moment, as is, all the time? Or our expectations lead us to a heck of a lot of disappointment.

Let’s face it, we’re human.

Our nature as complicated and contrasting as it is, also puts us in a state of expectation, even when we are okay with this moment. Ten minutes from now, I may want to eat dinner and expect a great dinner. I want to go on a run; I expect a great run. I want a great date; can’t wait!

There’s also the category of your “expectations.” We’re always expecting something… Are you expecting what you want or what you don’t? What you get is up to you!

Now let me clarify. We don’t always control what we get or how it comes to us. And yet, there is something to how we “expect” thingschange and people to be participants.

If your expectation is that change only comes through crisis or force, then you will focus on that aspect of expectation. Believing nothing good happens for you, is a downer. It seriously hampers your mood and tude.

It sucks as a way of life. 

Expecting pain and suffering by anticipating it and unconsciously helping it along, because you believe this…makes every road you take a CHALLENGE. Even when it doesn’t have to be.

Now on the other extreme is the expectation that everything you want will come to you.

You live in this state of expectancy that when it doesn’t come, severe disappointment sets in. And when the disappointment comes, it’s not easily handled. Often, it becomes a baseball bat to beat up whomever disappointed you or to turn it inwards and beat yourself up.

When it comes to expectations, I have a few tips.

First, accept that you’re human, you have expectations. It’s easier than denying you want something, because the energy of denial causes physical and emotional distress. So, accept that you want your own kingdom.

Second, don’t live in an expectation as though it is a dream. Take action toward what you want to happen. The more you actively participate in having what you want, the more it has no choice, but to come to you.

Third, just because it happened in the past, doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. Circumstances are never exactly the same. The mind may believe it is reliving a past moment, it can, in fact, be very similar, but it is still different. Acknowledge the similarities, but look at who you are now, not back then and realize you can make a different decision leading to a different outcome.

Fourth, try to broaden an expectation. Often we can become so focused on what we expect to happen, that it comes, but doesn’t look how we wanted it to and therefore, we may feel cheated or not satisfied with the result. Open up your mind to not attach to it being a great dinner, because the food tastes so good, maybe it’s the atmosphere or your companionship that make it a “great,” meal.

Fifth, live in the moment. Yes, it is a contrast in terms of expecting and focusing on the here and now. BUT, they are actually simpatico. When I live in the present moment, I’m focused on what I am doing that will lead me toward being in the place to receive what I expect. If I keep planting the seeds “presently,” my expectation is to have a garden full of flowers.

And finally… with disappointment. It happens all the time, focus on your resilience and knowing it is not the end of the world. What can you learn? And then let it go, don’t make it part of your identity.

Enjoy….and please share any thoughts you may have on expectations!

Tripping off the Pedestal

Why do we hold others to expectations that are truly impossible to fulfill?

Do we enjoy disappointment?

What part of placing someone in a “light of perfection” do we actually think is a happy and healthy place for anyone to live ? And what about being the one placed on the pedestal trying to live up to some unfathomable expectation?

I have encountered in the past couple of months (make that years), personally and professionally, quite a few situations in which I am on both the giving and receiving end of this wonderful phenomenon. Even better, what about the expectations you place on yourself? (This is a great starting place for seeking inner peace)

By others placing me in this position of their own entitlement or expectation rather than appreciation or just letting me be who I am, it taught me how I have done this with someone in my life.

My expectations hit me square between the eyes. Thankfully, by the time I understood how I had done this with him, I had stopped to a large degree. My expectations are not for someone else to absorb and throw on their back.

Dig Deep and what do you find? Gold or coal?

I have found that relationships with people in my life rate as most important alongside my relationship with me.

I want to hold everyone in a place of love.

It just makes it easier for others and myself. When I start “holding people accountable” in a way that is detrimental to the relationship, I have to ask myself why I want to sabotage the situation, especially if I care about the person.

We can hold others accountable, but remember the goal. If you are to hold another accountable, it must be clear, concise and understood by both parties as to what is expected from each other in terms of action or words. It is simple, because even if someone does not come through it is discussed and resolved.

Instead, when it is unclear and assumed (assumptions are the gateway to hell), all hell can break loose.

There are times, someone may just fail, not come through or disappoint us even though everything was clearly laid out.

First, we have to show compassion for our own self and the other.

It’s okay to f—k up, we all do. And if it is not, then the relationship does not have a healthy, honest and trusting foundation.

The greatest gift we give each other is acceptance. Accepting of who someone is and where they are in their life.

Acceptance does not necessarily mean we keep the person in our life (but it makes it a helluva lot easier to really BE in a relationship with someone without resentment), it may mean we understand, have compassion and accept that we can love people, but not choose to engage or invest as a core relationship in our life.

At times in my life, living on the pedestal was a welcome challenge.

Appearances of having it all together and being Wonder Woman were important. I put others needs ahead of mine, attempted to be a fairy godmother and worked hard for approval. I really have made strides in not sacrificing myself too often, but once in awhile it happens. And it is my responsibility when I place myself in an awkward position for approval. I blame no one else.

You realize no matter what you do or how you do it, if someone is looking to be let down, they will find a way to be let down. And you get to be the source of the disappointment, deserved or not.  There is no right or wrong in reality, although one or both parties may want to draw a line down the middle. Perception is where we all operate from and that is subjective.

I have been working diligently at changing my own perception of my life.

As I encounter challenges, I ask myself if I must fight or can I just go with the flow?

It’s as simple as realizing when you sit at the border waiting to get back into your country that the snafu, which is keeping you in a holding tank of sorts is out of your control. And so, you relax and go with it, knowing it will eventually work out (this coming from me, a retired AAA personality), doing this in relationships is not a bad idea too.

In letting go of the expectations of others, especially if the situation was unclear can be a little more difficult.

The ability to not take on another’s “stuff” and remain neutral, compassionate and open is a way to peace (inner and outer). Every time you can understand another’s perspective and their chosen reaction, BUT at the same time let go of making it your crusade or trying to fix it for them, yet still care, you have made an inroad to peace. It is difficult to do, because if you have false core beliefs…this may hit those buttons.

Honesty is very helpful, real get down n’ dirty authenticity is at the base of a healthy situation. And I don’t mean honesty and authenticity, which says I am a bad person, you’re a weak liar or anything meant to assuage guilt. It is where both people own their shit. Own it! When we stop piling it on others and take responsibility for what we want and who we are, a world of change can happen.

In the past, I had people tell me I am intimidating at times. The label always fascinated me, yet it has become clear as to why people found me that way. When it came to situations where I was willing to be honest and authentic I could be a force to reckoned with if someone else wasn’t able to come from the same place. I would hold people accountable to something they had no interest or understanding of inside of their perception.

I did not understand how someone did not clearly see they were complaining or giving an excuse.

I had no tolerance for either, I wanted people to just say “I am human, I screwed up.” Or “this is the issue, how do we resolve it?” or “I promised you this, but I can’t come through.”

I realized that even though I held a door open to honest communication, that some couldn’t come through the door and would blame me for it, as though my wanting honesty was a travesty and I was a bitch for standing firmly in that space. It made me realize I had an expectation of others they couldn’t possibly live up to in any form. My righteous position gave me a ton of heartache. And I had to stop. I did. And with the letting go of holding others to communicate with me in this fashion, either those relationships naturally fell away, or through many missteps our relationships grew HAPPIER, deeper and wider.

The point is no one belongs on a pedestal.

Expectations more often than not lead to disappointment.

Clear and concise communication about shared goals is the quickest route to peace.

Work with your core beliefs; the ones, which keep you stuck in pain and expectation.

Let go of the perception you have of others or yourself in which you are seemingly always placed in a position of disappointment.

And let everyone “be” just as they are, miracles happen this way! I know!

An investment in Happiness

Click Christopher Paul to see more art.

When you ask most people what they want in their life, a majority will respond with happiness as that answer.

If happiness is your “be all, end all”, what do you do to invest in your own happiness? Are your actions in alignment with happiness or do your thoughts lead you to actions, which create an investment in misery?

Happiness is more than a passing emotion or a thought which creates “joy”, it is a state of being, well-being.

When someone disappoints you, does that create a withdrawal or deficit in your happiness account? Or are you able to look at the bigger picture? If you can stop yourself from reacting to a person or a situation with punishment for disappointing you, there is an opportunity for an investment in your “happiness”.

We all make mistakes.

Sometimes trying to fulfill another’s expectations of us, we stumble and fall….our biggest fear comes true if we are a perfectionist or have any type of insecurity related to self-worth….”we have disappointed someone”. Ugh, that crushing, shaming feeling is hard to want to confront in oneself; we may run and hide or we find excuses or even blame the person we have disappointed.

When you are on either side of a disappointment, you have a chance to add a deposit to your happiness account.

When someone disappoints us, instead of making them feel worse and more defensive, why not see the humanness in how they let you down? Why not see that for “whatever” reason this person could not come through for you and its “okay”, you will survive. It may be inconvenient or create another kind of distress, but the ability to forgive and not put the whole weight of a relationship or your own feelings of being let down on a person who has disappointed you is a move away from misery.

Isn’t it a much happier place to live, if we allow others to “be” human, make mistakes and accept them anyway? It is, because in essence what you are saying is…”It is okay for me to also accept myself as I am, flawed and the world will not fall to pieces if I drop the ball too”.

Happiness is not fulfilled expectations. It has nothing to do with expectations being achieved, because once an expectation is fulfilled, we are on to the next one. We think, “What else do I need to make me happy, because I am just not quite there yet?” And in wanting an expectation fulfilled, we desire something on the outside to dictate how we feel about our own self and our life.

The expectations we place on our “self” can be enough to take all the dividends out of our happiness account. When you have a “to-do” list whether at work or home, how do you feel when you do not achieve all the items on your list? How do you feel when you do accomplish everything on the list? A momentary feeling that you are worthy? Then what? You create another list “to do” or if you didn’t finish your first list—you keep plugging away or maybe you just give up? Is a sense of well-being and happiness attached to the outcome of your list? Is there a measurement of it within tasks completed or not?

In attaching so much to what others or we accomplish, we add to the misery account. Living up to an expectation will kill off creativity, relaxation in doing and a sense of well-being. We are instead in a race or competition to not be let down.

We use our failures to beat ourselves with most of the time. This contributes to misery. Failure can contribute to happiness if we allow it too. We learn from our failures but we can also rejoice in them too. Why not celebrate being human and finding errors and disappointments to be temporary and not “life-defining, unforgiving, debilitating obstacles permanently marring your internal landscape?”

Mistakes, disappointments, expectations and anything else, which you allow to bring your celebration to a screeching halt is a choice of creating misery. Celebrate the things that don’t go smoothly, allow them…. maybe they will show you something new that you would not have noticed had everything gone “smoothly”.

Investing in happiness means becoming aware of the ways you invest in misery.

When you allow yourself to be stuck in a reaction of disappointment, rather than seeing the love or care you have for the person in front of you as a “human being”….you do yourself the same disservice. Everyone is a mirror for us and how we treat others is how we internalize and treat our own self.

Creating happiness comes through acceptance, allowance, appreciation, affection and attention.

When you are kind to others, you are kind to you. When you punish others, you punish yourself. I can always feel that “icky” feeling when I am punishing someone. Even if I get a moment of self-righteous vindication, I get to feel like shit afterwards, nothing like an anger hangover.

I am not saying that you let things slide and get taken advantage of in life. Nope not at all. You can have clear communication about what has happened, but you don’t need to own it, personalize it or make it something to beat yourself or another over the head with for any reason. Boundaries have to be clear and if something happens that disrupts, talk about it…calmly, without blame.

And if this talk is one you have to have with yourself, when you disappoint or let yourself down, then be kind. Add to the happiness factor, remember, “this too shall pass” with anything that happens to disrupt your day. Make a daily deposit in your happiness account and see what happens!!!  You get to earn interest on it, what a return!!

Painting by Christopher Paul