The Gift of Exchange

The act of giving and receiving looks EXACTLY the same. It also mimics the act of caving and taking. One person puts their hand out to give and one person puts their hand out to receive. In caving and taking, one person extends his hand and caves, the other shoves their hand out to take. Or one person shoves his hand and the other extends his hand to be taken. While all these exchanges look exactly the same, they are all quite different.

Have you ever felt like you were being taken? And on the flip side, have you ever felt like you were being given? Have you ever felt like you gave out of pity? Have you ever felt like you had to take out of misfortune? All of these exchanges feel like utter crap. They make you feel like you are the lesser person. While these exchanges all look the same, with both hands being out, they create imbalance with one party becoming the controller and the other party feeling controlled. They feel like your self-esteem has been gutted. And yet they mimic the exact behavior as the opposite of that exchange called giving and receiving. They both look like giving and receiving but they are nothing like that exchange at all.

So how do we change this exchange to be an authentic experience, rather than a manipulative unspoken dialogue? To truly understand how giving works, lets look at the word. The word Give in the dictionary means: Love, affection, emotional support. It also means to freely transfer the possession of something to someone. It is a FREE experience filled with love and heart. It has no agenda or motive. There are no deals or strings attached that one receives when he is in giving mode.

It is an experience for the sake of becoming closer with the other individual. (Please read that again. And again. Memorize it if you have to.)

Caving on the other hand feels like being taken, it does not feel like giving. It feels manipulated, it is often expressed the same way, with giving someone something, but it does not carry the same nurturing feeling that giving has. There is no affection attached, rather there is usually guilt, responsibility stemming from remorse or regret and it almost always sleeps with his buddy Shame to get that action going.

In that experience both parties don't feel closer they feel worlds apart.

On the other hand lets look at the word Receiver. The dictionary describes the word receiver as a person who gets or accepts something that has been sent or given to them. In other words, he also has no agenda to this reception. He is merely in acceptance of the giver's love and authentic expression of being bestowed his gift. This creates an honest closeness that bonds the two parties even closer together. It also allows that receiver to give back the giver the same amount of love and acceptance. In that exchange it is a completely EQUAL opportunity.

When giving and receiving happens no one is in control. NO one is better then the other. Both are equally experiencing something dynamic, real, and equally loving. In that exchange BOTH ARE RECEIVING.

Now lets look at the word Taker. The word taking means removing someone or something. When a person receives a gift from someone who feels obligated, he feels like a taker, like a person who has gained this possession by force rather than by equal loving agreement. And when a person gives because he feels obligated, that party also feels like he is being taken, he feels like his possession has been captured rather than received with dignity. In these instances both parties feel less worthy because they assume the other party is more worthy. It is laced with shame and despair, rather than uplifted with joy and love. Both feel "captured," which leads to feeling trapped. It feels like shit.

To truly master the art of giving, one must always feel like his giving has nothing to do with receiving later, but only with the art of connecting deeply with the person he has been fortunate enough to connect with. It has nothing to do with becoming more important, it has everything to do with becoming more attached to a later reward. This attachment itself is the very gift he receives from the art giving.

To master the art of receiving one must feel a great sense of dignity. Being on the receiving end is not always easy, because of the "Trapped" feeling many have associated with it. Receiving takes JUST as much work of connecting deeply as the giver is required to attain. The giver can only accomplish his loving gesture if the receiver is welcoming him into the warmth he so hopes to create.

For both parties to be in good will, both parties must feel equally free, equally opened to receive love and acceptance, equally opened to allow dignity to be the only part of that experience and equally free to express their true authentic selves.

If either party feels more in control or less than as a result of the exchange, it means the exchange was probably tainted with ego, self-importance and a deeply broken sense of what it means to be a giver or a receiver.

The equality of this exchange is what creates the greatest experience for both parties. It creates balance, it creates symmetry, equality, affection, trust, and it transforms us. If we are giving or receiving and the only transformation it musters is a feeling of despair, we must figure that exchange was probably unhealthy, one we might want to end.

This holiday season, as we enter the dynamic that creates the connection of exchange, take a minute, think about how that exchange makes you feel. It might mean the difference of becoming a giver vs a caver or a receiver vs a taker.