I saw a meme today that reads, “You can’t make someone love you by giving them more of what they already don’t appreciate.” I always find these kinds of memes really interesting.

Many of them are meant to inspire, yet come from a space of victimology. Let’s analyse a bit what it really means in this instance. If we are giving something to someone and they do not appreciate the gift, perhaps we should consider if we’re giving something that we would like to have, rather than gifting something that they would like to have.

It is common for us to give that which we would like to receive and then we are very surprised when the person we’re gifting this thing to, fails to appreciate our efforts. I do believe that this comes from a space where we continuously make everything about us. We all know people who, when we tell a story, will immediately launch into something equivalent to, or say something like, “The same happened to me,” but only more tragic, or more painful, or more intense.

I recently had a situation where I was discussing a relationship I have with a friend. Certain actions are making me feel uncomfortable and when I raised the question of my discomfort the replies were all about my friend’s discomfort and my friend’s current life situation and my friend’s need to make decisions. But the conversation wasn’t really about my friend – it was about my place in our relationship. A point completely missed by my friend.

If we are constantly making everything about us, we almost never show respect or honour to the person who is speaking to us and telling us their story. It is the same with gifting someone something that they have absolutely no use or desire for.

So, if we take the meme above into consideration, it doesn’t really matter what we gift another if the gifts are not what is needed or desired. No amount of gifting can make another person love us more. It is always about how we make another person feel. When we begin to replace THINGS with compassion or caring and expect more love, or gratitude, or understanding, our focus is not on unconditional love or the joy of being with the person it is on the expectation that we will get something we want in return. That is a a transaction – ‘I will give you this, therefore you should love me more.’

Life doesn’t work like that. The only way we can give anything and as a result of that, they love us more is if we give with absolutely no expectation of receiving anything in return. A strange thing happens when we do that. The people to whom we gift things appreciate our unconditional giving and as a result, love us more anyway.

If you were giving anything – whether it’s your time, or expensive diamonds, or washing someone’s car, or whatever it is – if you are gifting anything at all with the anticipation that you will get love, honor and respect or whatever in return, it will never produce the results you long for. We all fall into this trap. For example, if you love receiving flowers and you gift flowers to others, you are giving those flowers from a perspective of your appreciation of flowers. It may be possible that the person to whom you give the flowers happen to love receiving flowers as a gift – but do you know this to be true?

The person who is receiving the flowers may show a lack of appreciation because they may have preferred a visit to the massage parlour instead. Just because we appreciate a certain gift does not mean everybody else does.

This is how we project our own issues on every single situation that we encounter in the world. Let’s say for example we experience something as a child that was traumatic for us. The minute somebody else mentions a similar situation, we immediately offer our experience and suggest that our experience was as tragic, or as painful as this person’s experience. As much as this may be true, it shows a severe lack of compassion for the other individual’s current situation. Superimposing our experience of a thing on to a story somebody else is telling, shows a lack of emotional maturity and compassion. On simply that we are not as mindful as we’d like to be.

We all do this a lot of the time and then we become surprised that people stop sharing deeply personal information with us. We are all human but if we become aware of how often we project our needs and superimpose our likes and dislikes and think somebody else may appreciate what we appreciate, then we will become aware how what we give them, may not be appreciated by them for those very reasons.

Awareness always benefits us in the long run, and we only really learn and change our behavior when we become aware that our behavior is counterproductive to that which we say we want. This is what it means to live in the moment – to be in the now. Being in the now means I become aware of how I impact the world around me by the stuff I think, say and do.

When we stay in the moment and truly become aware of who we are and how we project our stuff onto others, we begin to learn that if we change how we listen, we become more compassionate, caring and nurturing. Most of us listen to offer our opinion or a solution. Instead, perhaps, we could learn to listen with compassion and empathy.

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