Emotional Investments
By: Cherie Scheurich, Ph.D., LPC, CHLC

Emotional investments are very interesting. They involve the processes of giving and receiving. Some people think that it is better to give than to receive, but in reality, balance is the key. Both are equally important. How could someone give, if there were no one to receive? The pleasure and self-esteem that results from giving helps to grow our altruistic (selflessness) nature. Wouldn’t the earth be a great place if everyone had an altruistic nature? In order for this to happen, we’d all have to learn how to graciously receive as well as to graciously give.

In the Buddhist culture, the monks go around the town with their begging bowls to be fed by the town’s people. They graciously accept any offering that is made. Why? – The monks understand the concept of emotional investments – gracious receiving. The monks allow the town’s people to feel a sense of true giving. This in turn, increases the community’s sense of altruism, self-esteem, and soul authenticity. The people feel good about giving. They give because they are grateful to the monks for the services that they provide. The monks bring a sense of peace and compassion to the community. The people gratefully repay the monks by offering food. Giving is a concept of emotionally investing in others, but so is receiving. When you graciously receive from others, you are allowing them to feel good about themselves. Gracious receiving is the gift of self-esteem to the giver.

When you give to someone, your unconscious brain evaluates, “Hum, I must really like this person to put myself out like this for him/her. This person is important to me.” When you give to a charity, you think, “This is an important issue to me. I want to support this program as much as I can.” Yes, you are giving money, but the giving is a behavioral response to the thought and the emotional investment. You give to others because you believe it’s the right thing to do. If there were no one to receive, you would not have the opportunity to give. When the recipient of your gift expresses sincere gratitude to you, your brain confirms, “I am a good person, and I’ve done a good thing.”

When someone tries to give you a compliment, offers you a small gift, or asks to perform a small favor for you, allow them the pleasure of feeling good about themselves as well as feeling good about you. This is an emotional investment. So many people do not receive compliments well. They not only deny themselves the gift of self-esteem, but they deny the other person as well. Why? What’s the big deal with receiving a compliment? Just say, “Thank you. It’s very nice of you to notice.” And that’s it - emotional investment complete. When someone gives you a gift or performs a favor, graciously thank them and feel good that you acknowledged an emotional investment.

Remember balance – again this is a key factor. The investment must be mutual and equal for it to stay positive. If there is any hint of manipulation or excess in the giving or the receiving, the situation is out of balance. If you only ever receive and never give, there’s a problem. All good things exist in moderation – anything excess (too much, or not enough) will have the same consequence – a negative one. To be in balance, learn how to give and receive with equal balance. Don’t take advantage and don’t allow others to take advantage of you either. This is important in parenting as well. Good parents give to their children and graciously receive from their children. Both parties are entitled to the self-esteem and positive feelings associated with giving.

Teach your children to give graciously as well as receive. TEACH and EXPECT them to give you birthday cards and small birthday gifts, Christmas presents, Mother’s or Father’s Day gifts (I like homemade gifts the best), and then be gracious as you receive them. Allow your children to emotionally invest in you as you emotionally invest in them. Learning by modeling is the best way. Don’t say, “You are an ungrateful person. You have to give back too.” You just defeated the purpose of the emotional investment with that statement.

If you notice that an investment is out of balance with either you giving more or receiving more, make an adjustment to your formula. You cannot change anyone except yourself, and you can do that assertively. If you notice a lack of balance, change your response to get a different outcome. Stay balanced and positive in your efforts. If you respond negatively (giving or receiving for manipulation or in excess amounts), you will get an increasingly negative response back. Stay assertive in your choices, and learn to say, “NO” if needed. Remember balance is the key!

Author's Bio: 

Cherie is a Holistic Minister and a Licensed Professional Counselor. Cherie is the co-owner of Lotus Holistic Life offering Life Coaching, Self-Help Curriculum, and Holistic Products as well as Lotus Life Mastery offering Online Psychotherapy, Clinical Hypnosis, and Free Articles. Cherie is most interested in working with clients in transitional stages of adulthood. Learn more about Cherie's work at www.LotusHolisticLife.com and www.LotusLifeMastery.com