ACoAs – Healthy GIVE & TAKE (Part 3)


PREVIOUS :Give & Take #2

SITE: “Relational Sphere Hypothesis” (includes 4 universal kinds of social interactions: Communality, Dominance, Reciprocity & Exchange)


Beneficial exchanges of any kind DEPEND ON:
a. Knowing our needs. Directly or indirectly, we were taught to ignore & deny them. So now – how can we know what to take & what to reject, if we can’t tell what’s good for us or what we need?
TOXIC rules: “No one wants to help me, nor ever will” , “I should never be comforted when in pain”….know thyself

b. Trusting ourselves. We learned that we could never believe our own thoughts, experiences, emotions, good judgement or intuition!
They told us everything we felt was wrong, stupid or the reverse! So now – how can we identify what feels right for us or not?
TOXIC Rules: “It’s weak & dangerous to have needs, ask for help, have feelings”,

c. Who we’re dealing with. If we can’t trust our own judgement we can’t be awake enough to identify who’s safe to take from & who’s not!
TOXIC Rules: “ No one is safe or trustworthy” , “Never, ever, hold anyone else accountable for their bad behavior”

d. The circumstances. When there’s too much uncertainly (as in alcoholic family chaos), exchanges are not possible, as one or both parties will tend to hold on to all their ‘valuables’ – time, info, money, affection, confidences….
TOXIC Rules: “Life is suffering” , “Don’t expect anything good – ever”

ACoAs – with the focus so completely on the family addicts & narcissists in, we were left chaosout of the loop of information (Ts), nurturing (Es) & protection (As) that any healthy parent would have provided.
Our training to not-be-given-to goes so deep that even the thought of someone legitimately treating us well can cause a panic attack. It can actually feels dangerous, terrifying & physically painful!

EXP: A successful business man found out (from some careful questioning) that over the past 10 years he had employed 3 different assistants who were ACoAs. One of them, Jane, was not only efficient at work but had consistently gone above & beyond her duties to ‘take care’ of her boss.

• This CEO wanted to show Jane his appreciation in addition to the usually expected business ‘gifts’, & asked her what he could do for her.  She was adamant that he should do nothing more. He was puzzled & insisted she receive some additional compensation, such as an all expense paid vacation or free school tuition. She began to shake & cry, insisting she could not possible take anything more. Her reaction was so intense that he finally backed off, shaking his head in

BASICS : To get more comfortable with the idea of receiving, it’s helpful to know some universal facts about how human society functions. In social psychology, the “norm of reciprocity” is the expectation (assumption) that people will respond to someone else’s behavior in like manner – they will reward a positive action with another positive action, & conversely will react to hostile behavior by responding either with indifference or hostility.
The focus is centered on trading favors rather than making a negotiation or a contract with others.

• Reciprocity is basically an exchange of energy,  beneficial to all concerned when the exchange is positive. It’s something everyone needs, like trees exchanging their oxygen for our carbon dioxide. So being a receiver is just as vital to smooth social functioning as being a supplier

And it’s not just about the things that are exchanged, which may or may not have value in themselves, but is a linking mechanism used as social capital (spend/expend) to bond with others – hopefully to create trust, affection & solidarity. It’s a powerful mechanism for creating & maintaining social ties of all types – anywhere from 2 friends to 2 nations.

NOTE: Accepting honest kindness, respect & generosity from others is a way to say you value them. They’re also some of the same ways we can give back.

NEXT: Healthy give & take #4

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