I was having a conversation with a friend about love, and was reminded of how I used to get stuck in thinking there was never enough to go around. I felt that I had a finite amount of resources, and if I gave some away, I’d have to get something back in order to feel whole and able to give more. I was very stingy with my resources. Without going into all the gory details, I have learned over time that this simply isn’t true. And now, when I look back on that time in my life, I find it strange that I could have ever thought that.
The real problem is that I still feel that way about a lot of things in my life – if I give some to you, there won’t be enough left for me. And this goes for things that are finite, like time and money, as well as for things that are infinite, like creativity and kindness. When I get to feeling this way, I notice that my body get tight, especially around my shoulders and chest, and I tend to withdraw from being around other people. I have a strong desire to protect what I’ve got in case someone comes along to take it away. Even my thinking is closed and tight and limited. After a while, this gets very uncomfortable, and I simply have to shift and change something because I can’t bear it anymore.
I have found that the catalysts that usually start this kind of thinking is when I feel betrayed or feel that someone has taken advantage of me or simply that I feel drained of energy and tired. All of those are pretty good reasons to withdraw and renew or renegotiate a relationship. But usually I don’t stop there, I generalize and start to see the entire world around me as threatening or just mean, and I hunker down and protect my heart.
When I close down and protect myself, I don’t let out any of the precious commodities I hold inside, but I also don’t allow anything to come in, positive or negative. I’m missing out on some great opportunities, and I stop growing. This happens less and less frequently to me now, and I’m getting better at recognizing it sooner when it does happen. My more important learning curve has been around changing my poverty thinking into abundant thinking. I am beginning to notice that the more I give, the more I get in return. When I give love, I open myself, and I get back so much more love. It may not be the love I was expecting or from the person I was expecting it from, which is sometimes surprising, but I do get it back, and sometimes it’s in ways my puny thinking could never have imagined.
But recently I have also been stretching to think more abundantly about finite things, too. If I have a candy bar, and I give some of it to you, there will still be enough for me. I don’t really need the whole candy bar, and by splitting it with you, I also get that good feeling I get when I share something. And maybe I get your undying love and appreciation, too. So in the end, I’m a much bigger winner than I would have been had I eaten the whole thing myself. That’s what I call abundance!