Do you always give without having anything in return? Learn to catch!

Do you always give without having anything in return? Learn to catch!

Giving is a beautiful gesture that should be taught to all children. Taking, on the other hand, does not enjoy the same popularity, but for our mental and physical health it is as important as giving

I have seen the best couples destroyed by the senseless madness of asymmetry in domestic commitment. My clinical experience suggests to me that behind much of the marital crisis there is he or she who is committed body and soul to the common well-being. The other goes about his business and enjoys the benefits of that commitment.

A clinical case

A couple came to me because she, a 43-year-old woman, complained of an unstable mood with heavy turns towards sadness. They had been together for about 15 years, they were a couple who formed during the university.

I started investigating with her, and with him too, what could be the causes of those mood problems. At first it was assumed a link with her work problems. She was an energetic woman who put a lot of effort into what she did but had not received any recognition at work for years.

Going deeper we found that the situation at home was no better. She did everything, literally. He cleaned, cooked, did the shopping, even took care of managing the bills and the various expenses that the domestic economy entails. Sure he had a common account, but even if the expenses were divided between the two, the responsibility to pay was all his.

The couple also had a daughter. Needless to say, her mother took care of her too. The thirteen-year-old daughter was beginning to perceive these attentions as pressing, asking for his spaces.

The husband did not sit idle all day, on the contrary, he was a hard worker. A VAT number motivated by the economic return and the passion for what he did to get involved without a schedule. Once he was done with work, he closed his brain and his wife didn’t even have any crumbs left.

The problem with this woman was not her work, it was that in every moment of her life she gave all of herself without ever receiving anything in return .

Human relationships and the comfort zone

The comfort zone is a metaphor to describe a set of activities that we act without tension. This concept mistakenly overlaps with that of tranquility, it is not necessarily so. There are people whose comfort zone is a frenzied flurry of activity. They are people who suffer when they stop, frustrated by the inability to enjoy tranquility and uneducated in idleness.

The comfort zone for many coincides with the set of activities that I can act without worrying about the judgment of others. For still others it coincides with those activities that I put in place to seek the approval of others.

In short, some people are only okay if they take action to be liked or loved by others. PLEASE NOTE: This is not narcissism. In that case, being appreciated or loved by others is taken for granted and requires no action. In fact, the narcissist doesn’t act to make you feel good.

Giving your attention to others is not free. It requires a large dose of energy and sooner or later the resources run out.

Give and take

For years my patient has given without receiving anything in return. It would be wrong to blame the employer, the husband or the daughter: unfortunately if others do not treat us as we would like and we do not say it openly, afterwards it will be difficult to assert our reasons.

Digging even further into this woman’s story, a pedagogical framework has emerged based on sacrifice and hard work. She was raised to give, because it is right, without asking for anything back, because it is wrong.

By doing so the body empties of all energy and only discomfort remains. There are those who transform that discomfort into depression, those into anger, those into anxiety, those who, in the worst cases, build a parallel world from which it is difficult to escape.

Taking is essential

Let’s dispel a false myth: there’s nothing wrong with taking. Of course, it must not become a predatory mode, taking is not bullying.

Taking is like eating. Just as our body needs nourishment to produce energy, our well-being needs to get something from the people around it to stay healthy.

Human relationships are always an exchange. We should teach it to very young children. Giving is beautiful not because it is right, but because if everyone does it sooner or later someone will give something to you too.

Then you will still and always have the strength to give.