For most of my life, I was a people pleaser. Under the guise of being a good person, I would endlessly give my time, energy, and money to other people. This worked great for them, but I would never get anything back, and wonder why everyone took advantage of me.
So I continued this relentless cycle of giving more than I would take. Coincidently, I would get taken advantage of more often, and nobody would value what I gave, even if it was a huge amount of my time and energy (and in a few cases, money).
Here’s the thing, by giving more than I took, unwillingly I signaled to the universe that I didn’t deserve care, respect, or reciprocation. And let me tell you, the universe was happy to oblige.
When I learned about this spiritual law of energetic reciprocity, it started to make a lot more sense to me. There always needs to be an energy transfer, because life exists on the foundation of balance.
So let me tell you what I’ve learned about energetic reciprocity, and why it does matter to have a balance between giving and receiving.
What is energetic reciprocity?
Energetic reciprocity refers to the universal law that the amount of energy given must equate to the amount of energy received.
All energy expended must be returned in some form. This energetic balance creates stability rather than imbalances, and balance creates a state of flow within the universe, or whatever you’re interacting with.
A plant will absorb nutrients its whole life, then it will seed and become nutrients when it rots away. An animal will eat other animals, but maintain the balance of life by providing sustenance for other animals when it dies.
But we humans are a little more complicated than the nature we see around us.
People expend energy in many different forms. Energy comes in the form of money, time, effort, labor, service, emotions, and beliefs. Energy can be both physical and non-physical.
Helping someone move some furniture can be just as helpful as lending them some money. Holding space for someone can provide as much value as driving them to work when their car breaks down.
Our universe is energetic. We communicate with the universe by giving energy and receiving energy. As long as there’s some sort of transfer of energy between what you give and what you get, there will be no friction.
This fundamental law is what makes the world go round.
How does energetic reciprocity work?
Giving more than I received was a stubborn pattern in my life. It was a constant reminder that I wasn’t being taken care of by the universe because I wasn’t respecting this law.
So a lot of tension formed in my life due to giving too much of my energy with no reciprocation. This pattern continued to repeat itself too.
Regardless of the job, I tended to work harder than the other employees. I Absorbed more responsibility than anyone else, and I was never late. Much more was expected from me because I proved that I could give. But I never got rewarded for going the extra mile.
Then it would happen with shared accommodation. I would be the one cleaning after other people, doing the housework, and keeping everything in order.
Then I would notice the same pattern in my social life. I would always be there for people, but how often was the same treatment reciprocated? This left me feeling depleted, and like life was unfair.
I tolerated everything which sent a strong message – this guy is an open bar! Let’s get as much as we can out of him before he runs dry.
Eventually, I realized that I was attracting these experiences because of my energetic outlet, of needing to please. People gave me so many opportunities to look at this pattern and correct it, but there was so much resistance towards changing it.
So look into the themes of your life. Do you tend to give more than you take, take more than you give, or it’s generally quite even? Look at your reoccurring patterns, and identify the common themes in your life.
You attract what you're willing to receive
Energetic reciprocity is more than just a physical matter. It’s an energetic law of the universe that works in a similar way as manifestation does.
Manifestation is about attracting the same quality of energy that you put out. If you’re in a high‐vibrational state, your energetic output and input will be positive, meaning your life condition is going to align with that energetic flow.
But the law of attraction goes both ways. You also attract shitty experiences based on the energy you give. If you give way more than you receive, then some tough lessons are going to ensue.
When you learn to receive, you’ll start to see more energy flowing in. But you don’t want to receive the energy of hatred, or anger, or anything negative. You want to receive positive energy which is loving, generous, and compassionate.
Be willing to receive, but only be willing to receive positive energy which comes in the form of money, favors, relationships, love, respect, and all that good stuff.
If you believe that you deserve to receive negative things in your life that are rooted in shame, guilt, and pain, that’s the energy you’re going to start receiving.
Understanding the flow of energy
Think of your body as an energetic river. If you allow a lot more energy in without sending much out, or send much more out than you allow in, it’s obstructing the flow of the river. You’re creating an energetic dam that prevents an easy transaction.
To reach a flow state with the universe – which I call energetic osmosis, your output of energy should match your input.
This law of energetic reciprocity works on all scales. An act of kindness should be reciprocated with love. A billionaire who has all the money in the world should be using that money to help millions of people in some form.
You need to have a flow of energy, but energy has different qualities. The quality of energy you give and receive is really what matters.
If you give more than you receive because you’re a people pleaser, it’s coming from a lower quality of energy meaning you’re going to attract more of that energy into your life in whatever form it manifests.
Giving and receiving need to be balanced to reach energetic osmosis with the universe, but the quality in which you give and receive also plays a huge part.
Learning how to receive
If you’re a people pleaser, you need to learn to receive more. If you keep on giving with no return, you’re signaling that you don’t deserve anything. You don’t deserve equality. You don’t deserve respect. You don’t deserve to be repaid. Therefore, what you want to do is counterbalance that dynamic by being a little bit of an asshole.
Learning to be selfish might sound a bit counterintuitive to you, but this is actually a good thing. If you’re a pushover and find that you get treated like shit, you NEED to be a little more self-centered by putting yourself first more often.
You want to start taking more and allowing people to disapprove of you for a couple reasons. The first reason being that since you’re already so far on other side of the spectrum, to you ‘being selfish‘ is probably just acting like a normal person.
The second reason is that by having some people not like you, or think you’re rude, or a dick, you’re going to start desensitizing from this fear and seeing that it was in your head all along.
Let’s get something straight. Selfish people shouldn’t try to become more selfish. Learning to be more selfish is only a valid point for people who are too selfless.
Here are some suggestions to help you stop being so selfless, and learn to start putting yourself first.
Know your worth
People who struggle to receive usually don’t believe they are worthy of receiving. They push everything away and end up providing way more value to other people than they are compensated for.
Know that you are worthy of receiving. Receiving is your birthright. This is how we function as a social species. Every person needs to receive, as every person needs to give. There is no shame in getting back the energy you put out. It’s only fair actually.
Humanity works on exchange. If you’re not receiving as much as you’re giving, you’re severely crippling yourself and not giving yourself a chance.
Expect a fair outcome
If you’re a people pleaser, you probably expect to give more than you get. Of course, when you expect an unjust outcome, take a guess what you’re manifesting.
Energetic reciprocity starts by expecting a fair outcome. If you don’t expect a fair outcome because of your insecurities, you’re inviting people to take advantage of you.
If someone asks you for your help with something, it’s okay to expect something in return. Little favors are fine, but something that takes a considerable amount of time or energy should have a return of energy.
Being the people pleaser that I used to be, I would usually feel awkward asking for something in return and just end up helping people when asked. This ended up draining a lot of my energy, and often left me out of pocket.
I started to understand energetic reciprocity when I was living in the United States and connecting with the spiritual community there. Everyone exchanged favors and services. Nothing was ‘free’.
At first, I thought this was a bit weird. Surely, if you care about people you will just help them out and expect nothing in return, right? But then I thought about how much I did for other people, and it started to make a little more sense.
Assert your boundaries
You need to start asserting yourself more. If you let people cross a line, you’re essentially inviting them to do so.
For example, if someone keeps asking for money, or perhaps asks for an unreasonable favor, it’s your right to say no. What you do for someone else should also appeal to you, and if it’s not, then is it a fair trade?
Recently I had an Ecuadorian friend of mine ask if she could order a lock to my home in the US, and bring it with me to her (seeing as I was heading to Ecuador and planning on meeting up with her).
I said okay. Weeks later, 4 heavy packages arrived which put my bag overweight and took more space than I was willing to give.
The old me would have just sucked up the costs and done it, but learning about energetic reciprocity, I told her that it was too much. I wasn’t willing to do all this without getting some sort of return, even if she was my friend.
As she runs a little hotel by the beach, I asked for a couple of nights’ stay in exchange, which she was happy to give. No problems at all, and I had a nice view from that hotel room.
If you don’t feel good about something, or feel it’s not fair for you, speak up, otherwise your desires will never be heard.
Learn how to give
On the underbelly of being an energetic buffet to other people, there are also consequences for receiving more than you give.
Being someone who only receives and rarely gives (unless it’s out of self-gain) is called the asshole effect. The asshole effect always backfires at some point, and people will eventually withdraw from your life because they feel that you add no value to their lives.
People who only know how to take tend to be egocentric and believe the world revolves around them. Even though they receive a whole lot more than someone who doesn’t know how to receive, there are going to be issues.
First of all, it’s bad karma. I’m not going to go into it in this article, but if you want to learn how karma works, follow the link below:
Receiving more than you give is going to adversely affect your social life. If you don’t give by providing value in some form, people aren’t going to see you as a friend.
Below are some ways to tilt the balance of giving vs receiving, so that you can take less and give more.
Provide more value
First, you need to learn how you provide value to society and other people. Value comes in many different forms. You can provide value by helping people out with someone, through your work, and by providing service to humanity in some form.
People should feel like they’re getting something by having you in their life. If they do, they’re likely to stay around and give back (as long as your value comes from a good place, not from need).
If you give too much on the other hand without receiving anything back, that dynamic turns sour and has the opposite effect, so don’t overdo it either.
Give more of your time and energy
If you feel like you receive more than you give, start putting in more effort for other people. You might want to work harder at your job. You never know, this might work out well for you. Maybe you can be more attentive to your social relationships, and be there more for other people.
Start giving a shit, and you’ll notice that this will have a good impact on particular areas of your life. Besides, it just feels good to help out. Again, I need to stress that giving needs to be done by choice and with good energy, not because you feel you need to be a good person.
Stop expecting a reward. It’s not about you. It’s about them. You need to step out of your ego and start doing more simply because you can. Don’t be that guy who always expects something in return, again, unless your energetic balance is tilted in the other direction.
Express you appreciation more
As your emotions are a big energetic outlet, make sure that you give a lot of good energy through your emotions.
By expressing your appreciation for things that people do, you’ll start building the muscle of gratitude. So make sure you appreciate everyone who gives to you and for all the little things. Thank them, compliment them, and make sure that they feel good for doing something for you.
As long as you feel positive emotions such as love, gratitude, and compassion for people, this is giving. You are giving them a quality of energy that does make a difference. Therefore make sure you foster these good feelings for people.