We tend to give more than we receive. That leaves us feeling imbalanced and burned out. In such a state, the inner critic seems to find a bigger megaphone and resentment of all kinds gets free license.
Giving and receiving in equal measure is the art of reciprocity. Unfortunately, in this department, most of us are amateurs at best when it comes to self care, social media habits, and promoting the business.
Don't Blame the Baby for Your Self Care Deficit
If the majority are giving too much you’d think that would mean that there’s some big segment of the population getting fat on others' contributions.
First group that comes to mind - kids. Children can seem like massive energy vortexes that will suck you dry, but that’s their job, right?
Yikes! Is that sense of imbalance - and martyrdom - an inevitable part of parenting? It doesn’t have to be.
So grateful to find Jessica Michaelson’s description of a common problem we usually don't have a name for - Depleted Mother Syndrome - and what to do about it. Thank goodness every stressed out working parent doesn't have to wait two (or more!) decades to get their equilibrium back!
OK, so if children aren’t to be implicated as little vampires intent on draining their elders, and we still feel like we’re out of whack, who is there to blame?
It’s not necessarily a somebody.
Feeding the Voracious Social Media Beast
Answer: The social media networks that are building mega corporations based on the endless contributions of users.
Ok, the social media platforms don’t give us nothing. They give us a place to connect and an unparalleled opportunity for global visibility in exchange for our personal data and the content that lures our friends and followers to sacrifice their own privacy.
Does that feel like an equal exchange?
Here’s evidence that we’re conditioned to give more than we get. Last fall, 380 New Yorkers gave up everything from their mother’s maiden name to part of their Social Security number in exchange for a cookie.
But maybe giving it up for a cinnamon Instagram cookie doesn’t matter considering everything data brokers know about us already thanks to our buying and clicking habits.
But Social Media is About People and Relationships, Right?
We're quite used to putting away our concerns about privacy (because worrying about Big Brother is next to useless, according to this New Tech City podcast). Instead, we focus on the immediate benefits of social media - seeing and being seen.
The folks at Big Fuel explore the basics of reciprocity in social media.
They see our online presence as motivated by a dual desire to “be recognized as an individual, and belong to a community.” Online influence - something every entrepreneur wants - is the beautiful love child of posting your own content and sharing others’ stuff.
Optimistically they declare: “Whatever you give to a community, you earn in return.”
Well, that’s the ideal. That’s what reciprocity really is. But do we actually experience it much?
Paula Reed Nancarrow nudges us to witness the distracting dark side of the quest for reciprocity. Because social media is so easily quantified in followers and shares, it’s all too easy to lose focus and authenticity because you end up playing the numbers game. Reciprocity isn't about a blind series of obligatory back and forth interactions.
Reciprocity at the Human Level & the Creative Level
Writing and creating content are part of the job for most of us, but let's be honest about the days when you just don’t want to show up and churn out more ideas. You may be coping with an issue that you don’t want to share with your online community or focused on a longer term project may have your attention.
Sometimes it’s hard to write because you can’t reconcile the time it demands with the needs of the people who are right in front of you and the fear that your latest blog post won’t get a response.
In this week’s blog post, What You’ll Gain From a Business Writing Practice (Besides Blog Posts) I offer up all the ways that your writing-for-business practice gives back to you because I think that we can keep the dream of reciprocity alive.
Start with creating a positive give and take with your own creative endeavors and then apply that to your relationships with clients, colleagues, and the people you love.
It meant the world when someone I haven’t interacted with lately shared my latest post with a few heartfelt words. I quickly searched out her wonderful Hudson Valley summer camp and posted it where I could. I was motivated by gratitude and its soul sister, reciprocity.
This was not an obligatory "you scratched my back, I hafta scratch yours" share. I believe in this woman's work and she opened the door for me to share in the spirit of reciprocity with an initial act of generosity.
Look for the deeper benefits in every act of content creation to make sure you're caring for yourself. And then, read, comment, and share like you mean it to ensure you're showing your care for others.
Reciprocity is Sacred and It's Something We Can Cultivate
The indigenous peoples of the Andes have a word for profound reciprocity: ayni.
As Eleanora Amendolara of the Sacred Center Mystery School describes it “When you move through life inspired by the spirit of ayni you balance the great scales between yourself and the earth, the cosmos, and with all the people in your life.”
Listen to the Virtual Wisdom Council call that I co-hosted on topic The Rhythm of Reciprocity and Gratitude. Though we won’t be talking about entrepreneurship or your online message, Eleanora is a channel for creative magic. The discussion and group meditation offers an opportunity to see reciprocity from a broader perspective and will help you find your equilibrium.
This post was sent to Sovereign Standard subscribers first. To join our community please subscribe here.