The Law of Reciprocity

There is a law in effect that governs cause and effect in our life. It’s called, The Law of Reciprocity. Reciprocity means to give back what you receive. Related sayings are: “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” or “What goes around, comes around.” The most popular saying is called The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Giving and receiving is an implied aspect of most of our relationships. It is unspoken but there is an expectation that what is given will be received eventually or when circumstances are right. Whether it is voiced or not, it has the ability to damage relationships. When reciprocity is ignored, it can leave one person feeling resentful. It can throw off the balance of the relationship and lead the giver to shut down or eventually end the relationship with the receiver. We’ve all been involved with someone that is oblivious to reciprocity. There are even times when we dismiss reciprocity, even though we are secretly hoping that the person will return the favor. The goal in discussing this is not that you will stopping giving, but that your generosity will be pure. You should be giving from an overflowing cup of happiness. If you are giving the contents of your cup and feeling empty, then you are giving and waiting for your cup to be refilled. What I have learned is that I have to clue into WHY am I giving? Am I giving because I want something in return? Am I giving with no expectation of return from the person?

If I am giving with the expectation of return, I have two decisions to make. I can either not give, because it will bother me too much to not receive it back. I can give, but negotiate with the person when it will be returned so we have a clear understanding. These are the empowered choices that are available to me. If I give while expecting it to be returned and it’s not, I am angry every time I see the person and they don’t feel the need to give back to me. This leaves my feelings in their control. I would rather both of us be aware of exactly how I feel about the situation.

If I am giving with no expectation of return, then I have to tell myself that it is charity. I cannot be angry about it later. When I have determined that it is charity, I have to decide how much I can give. I have a rule. I can’t give anything away that I will miss. If I will miss it, then I know it will make me angry later that I gave it to that person. There is nothing wrong with charity or helping someone else out, but I understand that I can kill all my good feelings about it if I don’t honor myself. It’s great to do things for people. It’s not great to give away when you have a hidden agenda or if you are giving away too much.Don’t leave it up to the other person to figure out what is too much for you. You have to make an empowered decision.

The law of reciprocity isn’t just about good things, but everything. This means that if you give with a hidden agenda or if you feel resentful afterwards, that can come back to you as well. Be deliberate and clear in all your actions. You should be what you want to receive. Giving that leads to anger is no better than not giving. Your giving should be pure, honest and with love. It is not required for you to give yourself away for the love of others. It is required for you to love yourself enough to be able to give from the heart.

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”- Albert Einstein

What are your expectations when you give? Are you giving to get people to like you or love you? Can you make a more empowered decision about what you will give away?