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Giving Self-Away Part II

As introduced last week, this idea of giving yourself away can have negative effects on all types of relationships. Marriages have some of this quality, where two people lean on each other and are seen as co-dependent, rather than as two whole individuals relating to each other. This also often happens between parents and children, and creates a situation where the children are kept small and weak and not taking responsibility for their own lives. This can often happen between employers and employees, when there are games and patters and family like patterns in a business.

As we mentioned last week, you can also give yourself away to materials or large corporations. Surprisingly, this can even happen between someone and their money. One way to know if you have given yourself away to your money is by noticing how you react to certain events. For example, if you put money and the stock market and it goes down, your sadness can reveal that you have tied some of your soul or spirit to your money. The same applies in a business. If you feel like you have to serve the business, or if it owes you something or that it is a burden, you can tell that you have given yourself away to the business.

This is one of the most complex subjects that I teach in the Mountain Experience. I help recognized that they have attached to another person, then help them detach. And I see that when they recognize and take themselves back, they usually feel immediate relief.

One time, I had a coaching session with a woman who had just gotten divorced. We could tell that the event had clearly taken a part of her, and were trying to figure out why. First, I asked her if I had given herself away to her husband. When she said that she hadn’t I then asked her if she had given herself to her marriage. The woman started to cry as she realized that she had given part of her spirit to the concept of marriage, and she released the grief and the loss, she saw that she could be whole in her life despite not being married.

One time I had a young man who was about 30 years old. He came to me and told me that, for the past ten years, he had not been able to keep a girlfriend or a job. He didn’t understand why, because ten years ago he was a successful man with a girlfriend and a great job. He said, “it’s like a part of me died.” I said “interesting,” and asked him to reflect about what may have occurred ten years ago. After reflecting he shared that his grandfather died 10 years ago. I explained that part of him died with his grandfather, and he suddenly started crying. He could clearly feel it in his emotional body that something had died that day. As I worked with him to take his spirit back, as his grandfather did not need that part of his spirit, and he had taken some of his grandfather’s spirit as well. This young man regained his spirit. About two weeks later, he sent an email sharing that he had a great girlfriend and a new job, and attributed it to regaining his life by getting his spirit back.

These stories reveal our capacity to put our spirit in something else. They show that we need our whole spirits to feel whole. It also shows that it is surprisingly easy to fix, since we can actually take ourselves back from other people.

It can be hard to completely stop giving yourself away. Society has told us that it is a loving and caring act, as well as many other things that make it seem like a positive thing . As such, I am simply asking you to try. When I walk through the process, try to give yourself away then take it back, and see what it feels like. Normally, when people do this test drive, people get this on an emotional level. They begin to see that giving yourself away does not create healthy context.

As you go through your process you may want to explore, “who have I given myself away to?” It may seem difficult, but it can actually be easy to determine. If you feel great when they are in a good place, and feel terrible when they are struggling, you will know they have a part of you. If you feel the need to make sure they’re okay, or believe that part of you would die if they died, a part of you is attached to them. You can also tell if you have an ongoing fear about their well-being, need to control them, or a sense of resentment. In each example, you see the person as non-separate from you, and therefore feel what they feel.

Once you learn more about this subject, you can help in two ways. First, you will clearly feel more whole once you have taken your spirit back. But there’s also a second part; if you have this knowledge and know the symptoms, you can give others their spirit back. If you feel them attaching to you, you can learn to detach from it. This is not done by saying something to another person: they can just feel it. That’s because giving yourself away is beyond the level of intellectual understanding. It is not something you can write down, but something you feel.

Give yourself a chance to reflect on all of this through inquiry. What or who have you given yourself away to? What is the price? What is the perceived benefit?

Taking yourself back can be a life-changing experience.

Giving Self-Away

The subject of giving self-away could, and may eventually be, a book in and of itself; it is such a profound and meaningful subject. Giving self-away is a process that we do in our culture, with families and friends, and even with material things such as cars and money, and even concepts. It is a coping mechanism, and it is also a form of an attempt to materialize the self, to extend myself beyond myself into things and concepts around me.

Giving self-away is when I take part of my source or spirit, and invest it in something outside of myself. Meaning that I tie my well-being, happiness, or self-worth to something that is outside of my control or present experience.

When I give myself away, and tie myself to something outside myself, I may identify it as love, dependence, responsibility for, or accountability. It is often done out of extreme goodwill, the desire to help somebody else, a function of neediness or a lack of self-worth; but it is not the positive thing we make it out to be.

Imagine if you could take a part of your soul or spirit, and attach it to another person. Imagine a part of your spirit connecting to them, perhaps you can imagine with a thread or a string attached from your heart to the other person. In this arrangement, everything that happens to them, everything they do, say and experience feels like you are experiencing it with them. Even if you are not there, you may imagine what they are going through, and in this case, there is a hyper awareness and dependency on their experience for your well-being. At times, when things are going well for them, this may feel great. Other times, if they are suffering or challenged, it will likely feel terrible.

Now imagine they reciprocate, where they do the same and give themselves to you. When this happens, I call it entanglement. Entanglement is when I have given myself to someone, and they have done the same for me, meaning our well beings are now tied to the well-being of the other.

In our culture, we often view this as care or love; when my loved one suffers, I suffer. In fact, I have found in my work that the more compassion, or understanding that I can be towards someone, that can be more helpful. However, if it is given in the form of empathy, and the person is going through the emotional ride with them, it tends to diminish the help or support that is given. Because both people are now feeling the struggle and both need help in processing dealing with the struggle. Studies have demonstrated the dramatic difference on the brain between compassionate understanding and empathetic distress.

When I draw this diagram of entanglement during The Mountain Experience, it is clear that these entangled nets of giving self away and interdependence creates substances. When you have this web, you can see that if anyone is in an emotional reaction, it tugs at everyone in the web and makes everyone less present. Again, you often see this in families that when one person is struggling, everyone is in the struggle. In every example, it is clear that it is better to be empathetic than to actually be entangled with someone else’s pain. It is wonderful to be empathetic to understand someone else’s experience but it is not helpful if we are immersed in someone else’s experience.

While it is still viewed as a positive and loving thing, this act can have detrimental effects on both parties. When you give yourself away to another person, you tend to want to control that person. Because your spirit is attached, you have an emotional involvement in what happens with them. When they are not behaving as I wanted, I then tend to resent them or want to manipulate them. When I have given myself away and the person is succeeding, I either feel jealous, or feel that I am succeeding and start to take some of their energy or success from them. When someone else has given themselves away to me, I can often feel fearful or dependent on them. If they leave me, I am at risk, I may lose some of my own strength or capacity, or can become dependent, weak or needy.

Next week we will continue this blog and explore the effects of giving self away on relationships.

Giving Yourself Away

I was working with a number of couples today which has inspired me to expand on the understanding around the concept of giving yourself awayGiving yourself away means making unspoken contracts with others, or doing something that includes an expectation of someone else that they have not agreed to.

In the most basic example, cooking dinner with the expectation that people will appreciate it; if your family fails to show up or fails to show appreciation, the result is a feeling of anger or disappointment.  In a much more extreme example, having children or adopting children in the expectation that they will honor, respect, and appreciate you, and resenting them if they do not.

Every time we give ourselves away, we open ourselves up to disappointment, resentment, guilt, embarrassment, anger, etc.  Instead of creating closeness or connection, giving ourselves away tends to create distance and resistance.

In relationships, it is important and critical to work with the level of exchange and establish understandings and agreements that are open and well understood.  Having-exchange level understandings in relationships (professional or personal) is fundamental to healthy relating.  Talking about and renewing these understandings keeps relationships healthy.

For example, do you feel resentment around your chores and housekeeping?  If so, there could be value in clarifying and redefining agreements until it works for everyone.  Using inquiry is critical to this process.   Are your agreements around housekeeping,spoken or unspoken?  How are they working?  What are possible new ways to look at them?  How can you set it up so you will not be resentful.

Other critical conversations may be around: money, sex, parenting, vacations, extended family, free time…  These topics can have a lot of charge around them’ can you clean up your charge so you can have an adult conversation around these things?

It is just as important to find areas where there is imbalance (or perceived imbalance) at work.  Nothing is harder on a company than when someone feels that they have given themselves away, that there is some unfairness.  We need to constantly work to renew and have clear, clean agreements and consistently be honoring the agreements we have made or changing them overtly.

Giving self away creates resentment and dysfunction through unilateral or covert agreements.  Healthy exchange means having clear, open and universally recognized understandings, these understandings can even be unilateral, but they have to be open, understood and enforceable.