Emotionally healthy individuals approach their relationships from the standpoint of, “What can I give to this?” The more common – and, paradoxically, less rewarding approach is, “What’s in this for me?”

Of course, in all our choices we want something. But coming from the healthy place we want to have relationships with others who share the impetus, “to give,” rather than the need to take.

It’s important, therefore to recognize the signs of the taker.
• In conversations, they don’t really listen. They’re not genuinely interested in the other’s point of view and often interrupt, especially if they do not like what they are hearing. When not interrupting, they are just waiting for the briefest pause to bring the focus back on themselves.
• They tend to be calculating and manipulative and not infrequently less than honest.
• They operate from a place of personal emptiness – like a barrel with a hole in the bottom that no amount of getting can fill up. Whatever we give such a person is never enough.
• Because they have no genuine appreciation or gratitude, all of their relationships are inevitably disappointing.
• Takers frequently indulge in grandiose cover-ups, to keep others – and themselves – from experiencing the sad, emptiness that lies within them.

Individuals who relate from a more mature, self-aware and respectful attitude think more in terms of what of themselves may be of value in the other’s life. Of course, what that takes is to experience one’s own intrinsic value.

Many people who reach the, “What can I give” place have at one time had the, “I’m empty and need filling,” feeling. These individuals have found the courage to understand the experiences that led to their sadness and to find new ways of relating.
• They’ve learned to listen with respect, empathy and a sincere desire to understand, rather than insisting on their own point of view.
• They follow through with generous, kind and compassionate behavior.
• They’ve recognized that generosity – giving – is the key to receiving! The process of giving is what begins to fill the emptiness.

The paradox: Sincere giving of our emotional selves fills our lives with richness!

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Jeff Levine

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