There are two types of giving. Unconditional and Conditional.
- Unconditional is Spirit given and Conditional is man made.
- Unconditional feels good immediately and Conditional has the promise of delayed gratification.
- Unconditional is from the heart, Conditional is from the mind.
- Unconditional is a connection with soul, Conditional needs connection to others.
- Unconditional pleases both the giver and the receiver.
- Conditional needs conditions to be met to feel better.
- Unconditional Giving increases our energy and Conditional depletes it.
Difference Between Unconditional Giving and Conditional Giving
The difference between Unconditional Giving and Conditional Giving, is the intention. Unconditional giving has the intention of ‘giving because it feels good’. There is no other agenda and no thanks required. On the other hand, Conditional Giving is as the name suggests. Giving to get a return, whether praise, appreciation, acknowledgment. These expectations don’t seem so bad except that if those conditions aren’t met, there are negative consequences.
My Early Experience
This difference between the two types of giving was illustrated to me many years ago when I was a Promotion’s Manager for a charity organisation. I had both paid staff and volunteers to manage and one of the Fundraisers that came under my portfolio was a Thrift Shop. It had only a couple of paid staff, the other dozen or so people were volunteers. Each time I made an appearance, I was amazed at the amount of bitchiness, theft, resentment, complaints and numerous dissatisfactions from the volunteers. In a nutshell, they were complaining that their needs hadn’t been met.
This came as shock to me because I was witnessing people that said they wanted to help but it turned out there was a price, even if it wasn’t money. The price was much more difficult to deal with than finances as it was an unknown quantity. Everyone of them had different needs. If you’ve ever worked with volunteers before, you will understand that most tend to need a lot of praise and appreciation. Now I’m all for thanking people, but this is when I had a huge moment of clarity.
Conditional Giving Is A Crowded Path
I could see that the way I was brought up was the same as these people. I also needed that praise to make my giving worthwhile. They gave because they either thought they had to or because they expected others to fill their cup. This was two-fold. They didn’t realise they were doing it and it was making them miserable. This was a reflection of my life. That’s when my turning point came. I decided ‘no more’. I would choose to give just because it felt good, or not at all. I felt immediate relief and that’s how I knew it was right for me. I really, really did not want to be like the people I was witnessing. They just weren’t happy campers. This was why I had the realisation. I had thought that if you were retired and could afford to give your time, you would be happy to do so. But I was wrong. If you gave conditionally in the past, retiring is not going to make any difference.
The advantage of Unconditional Giving is the absolute freedom it provides. There is no expectation and nothing needed to feel fulfilled. The act of giving is the reward. It is satisfying, fulfilling, connecting and energising. And I decided I wanted that.
Are You An Emotional Caretaker?
A Caregiver is different from an Emotional Caretaker. A Caregiver is somebody who looks after a person in need, be it the elderly or a disabled person. This giving can either be conditional or unconditional. It’s your choice.
Not all people who give conditionally are Emotional Caretakers.
An Emotional Caretaker is a person who gives because they think that it will please others. They are one part of a relationship triangle. They feel guilty if they don’t help out, yet resentful when they feel they should. A Caretaker will give of themselves in an effort to make another feel good. It seems selfless until you understand that you really have no control over how another person feels. The condition is, that they must feel good and be grateful so that the Caretaker can feel good too. An Emotional Caretaker has an agenda that can be well hidden, even from themselves. When expectations aren’t met, there’s a negative emotional result.
How do you know if you’re an Emotional Caretaker? Caretakers focus on another’s pain so they don’t have to notice their own pain. They focus on another’s needs so they don’t have to look at their own. Always finding others to ‘help’ so that they don’t have to notice what’s going on in their own home. However, the giving is conditional. An Emotional Caretaker needs the receiver to be grateful, so that they can fill their own cup, otherwise they feel rejected and resentful. You can often recognise an Emotional Caretaker by their verbiage. “I give and give and feel drained at the end of the day”. Or “I have to learn to set boundaries” and criticisms like “You’d think they would be grateful”. I can hear you say “That’s me!”
What Are Emotional Caretakers Searching For?
We are taught to be Emotional Caretakers when we are young. It’s how we fit into the family unit. It’s not that anybody said to us “You must be an emotional caretaker”, but our mother or someone we admired probably did it, so we adopted the behavior from them. It had its own rewards. Society thought we were caring and loving. We were validated temporarily so we seemed to fit. However, this is hollow praise as it is outside of us and you can’t fill a cup by tipping water on the outside.
Not everyone wants to give unconditionally and that’s ok. There’s no judgment on how you choose to give. Many people are so accustomed to this style of gratitude that they either think they’re entitled to make others respond to them or they’re afraid to give it up for fear of feeling unloved. Conditional Giving requests praise and adoration. It’s a condition of the Giving, even if it is unconscious. Needing to feel accepted by others lies deep within the psyche, so if we don’t love and accept ourselves, we’ll look for it from others. Here lies the paradox in that acceptance. If we have a need to please and others don’t accept our giving graciously, then we feel resentful. If we give because we feel we have to, we feel drained.
Unconditional Giving fills you and Conditional Giving drains you.
Imagine Unconditional Giving as an unlimited source, such as a flow of electricity. The electricity is the power source and we are the lamp through which it flows. When we are plugged into the power source, we shine brightly. Our light shines for us and others are able to see because of the glow. Our light is unlimited as our power is unlimited. When we detach or unplug from the power source, we are limited in how much light we can give. Our power drains quickly, and even if we have reserves, we are soon depleted with no more to give.
When we understand how giving flows, we’re no longer limited by having to create boundaries as they become natural. Our priorities shift from how much can I give, to how brightly can I shine?
So how would I change the situation I found myself in with the group of volunteers at the Thrift Shop? I would change me and make sure I was plugged in to an energy Source. I would set my intentions to ‘feel good no matter what’, and I wouldn’t step out of my front door until I was plugged in. It just wouldn’t be worth it. I would much rather feel energised at the end of the day than drained.
The only difference between Unconditional and Conditional Giving is the Intention.
6 Steps to Unconditional Giving
If your Giving is Conditional and you would like to change it then follow these steps:
- Begin setting intentions to feel good, often.
- Take notice of your moods and
- What the expectations from others are.
- Notice the shift in your mood when something hasn’t gone as expected, especially if there wasn’t even an awareness of expectations in the first place.
- Note the way you enter that relationship triangle; by feeling sorry for someone or being manipulated in some way, feeling trapped.
- Keep a diary of these thoughts and emotions, it can help to extract them from your mind.
We have taught others we are Emotional Caretakers and now they expect us to act in a particular way. So be ready for the transition to freedom. It can be a bumpy ride but hang on, it’s worth it!
Continue your Journey with 6 Dimensions of Healing – Handbook
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We all have expectations but how do we know which expectations are good for us and which ones aren’t? I hear you say “Some are good and some are bad?” From a feel good point of view, some are much better than others. Now bad doesn’t mean life threatening, but it does mean that they aren’t guiding us along our highest path.
An example is a conversation I recently held with a friend. She wanted to know why her daughter-in-law wasn’t grateful for a present received. After all, if that was her receiving it, she would have at least thanked the giver. Her expectations was that her daughter-in-law would act in a particular way. It was expected and the outcome never arrived. Therefore, the consequences could be resentment, anger or disappointment.
What she came to understand was that her expectations of how someone should act, was determining her ability to feel good. But it’s never a solitary incident. When we can find one example in our lives of expecting people to respond in a particular way, then there will be many others. The experience is never isolated.
Where Did This Behavior Come From?
We are trained at an early age how to expect others to act and what to do when they react. Our parents didn’t even have to tell us what to expect, they taught us by their example. When we witnessed our mother get upset about something her sister said that was ‘mean’, our example is that others being mean to us determined our mood.
We can eventually come to the conclusion that unless those around us are happy, we can’t be happy either. So we work really hard to make others happy. It’s simple and its logical. Where the formula comes unstuck is when those outside our circle don’t know about these rules. For instance in marriages and extended families.
It’s not even about expecting other’s to do certain things (though that could be a part of it), but it’s expecting people to act in a certain way. And when they don’t, we are upset, angry or disappointed and we think it’s their fault. Our mood becomes one of blame.
How Do We Change Our Expectations?
When we recognise these expectations as our own, we can let go of how others respond, as the indicator of our mood. In other words, we can be happy no matter what others think and feel.
This is the only way we can move beyond limiting expectations, of ourselves or others. We allow expectations to hold us back without even realising it. Nobody else is involved it holding us back, only our self-created expectations.
It’s much better to make peace with our own expectations and let others act the way they want, no matter what that is. Make peace with them and allow the expectations to dissolve. (I’ll record a meditation for that.)
Having expectations of others is a way of sabotaging our own happiness. It’s handing our personal power over to someone else. Yet, we deserve to feel powerful and in charge of our own lives.?
What Are Good Expectations?
How can there possibly be good expectations? Well, expectations can be absolutely uplifting because they create excitement about what’s to come.
For instance, we maybe living a mundane or boring lifestyle, but having expectations that it will change for the better. Creating expectations in our minds that life will be filled with our wildest dreams, moves us in the direction of what we want. It changes our mood and sets the tone of the day.
We give our dreams, goals and desires momentum by the expectations we hold. Expecting to feel great today, can reroute our path to one that is fun and uplifting. Even if nothing in particular seems to happen to change our circumstances. The underlying expectation of feeling great, builds momentum in that direction.
There are rules for Great Expectations
- Don’t rely on others
- They have no bearing on another’s actions
- And don’t need others to act in a particular way
- Let go of any perceived outcome
When we leave our expectations of others or the outcome of the experience out of the equation, our lives transform. They become happy and much more fulfilling.
In conclusion, say yes to expecting life to be wonderful. It’s an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Our expectations feed our soul and expand our minds. They become joy on steroids and they’re necessary to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
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A Game of Triangles may sound like a game show or a Television series and sometimes it can feel rather surreal when well entrenched. This Game of Triangles though, is a relationship triangle. This emotional game is one we have been playing longer than we can remember. We inherited the behavior from our parents and found our place within the family unit. You see, most family structures are very familiar with a relationship triangle.
What is a Relationship Triangle?
The triangle has three roles attached to the dynamic. We enter the triangle as a Victim, but play the roles of Caretaker/Rescuer or Perpetrator interchangeably. This triangle is about relationships because it can’t be played alone. Another is needed for the dynamic to be played out.
It works on dependency. When we feel like a victim, we look for a caretaker or rescuer. To become a victim in the first place, we must find a perpetrator. Sometimes these people are real, other times imagined (as in a scenario played out in our minds). People can feel victimised by a government that hasn’t actually done anything ‘to’ them but because they feel threatened, they take on the role of victim.
But today, I’m going to focus more on the relationships we have with others that are close to us.
When we feel threatened, we automatically enter the triangle as a victim, now looking to find some security through one who feels sorry for us. This validates our position. We feel justified in feeling like a victim. Enter stage right, the caretaker or rescuer. This is vastly different from a caregiver who takes care of a disabled person for instance. A caretaker is there to rescue a victim so that they can feel better about themselves. In a caretaker’s eyes, it’s important that a victim feel better, because when they do, the caretaker also feels better. It’s easy to imagine this role as one of mother and child, except we play these roles forever, even when we’re fully grown.
Disadvantages of A Relationship Triangle
I’ve found that people tend to gravitate towards a familiar role, but all of these roles are interchangeable and none will empower a person to create their very best reality.
All of the roles in a triangle are disempowering. We never truly stand in our own power when another is propping us up or telling us what to do. That’s because words don’t teach, we learn by our experiences and the experiences of others (such as role models and anti-role models). It is the choices we make from the experiences we live that make us feel empowered in our own lives. When others make these choices for us, or they don’t allow us to make our own, or they ridicule the ones we choose, that’s when we feel disempowered. Our being shrinks and our light fades. We lose our enthusiasm for life.
How Do We Stop Playing A Game of Triangles?
The relationship triangle is one that we tend to gravitate towards because it’s familiar. When we were young, it was a safe role to fit into within the family unit. For instance, if it made our father angry to speak up for ourselves when we were young, we adopted the role of victim and sometimes caretaker, when our mother was feeling victimised. When we’re feeling weak, it props us up. It feels like a safe place to go, temporarily. But we’ll never feel our Universal Strength and Guidance when we rely on others to feel good. The relationship triangle is a learned behavior and not a God-given one.
The only way out of the relationship triangle is by being conscious of playing the game. I refer to it as a game, as it’s necessary to find a rescuer when we’re feeling like a victim. A person will also work hard to create a perpetrator when they want to feel like a victim. And all this takes place automatically. So it makes sense, that if we want to exit the game, we need to be aware of when we’re playing.
There is much to say about this topic and we use it in our workshops as it’s easier to illustrate than to use words. So, the solution is: when we find ourselves feeling disempowered and looking for another to prop us up and validate our choice, recognise that mood and make a decision to do it differently.
You see, nobody can ever make us feel like a victim. The choice is always ours. That’s not to say it’s easy to change patterns. But, it’s like creating any new pattern. The key is awareness and choice. Over and over again.
Is it Worth Severing a Relationship Triangle?
Absolutely. Feeling reliant on another for our emotional well-being is never an empowering option. Until the game ceases by choice, there is no freedom within. It’s not a natural pattern, it’s an adopted one, so we can create another one that serves our higher good, any time we want.
For more information see p.144 – 6 Dimensions of Healing
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