I have received countless messages about how to identify if the people in our life are good for us or not.
Yes we can use our boundaries and standards, but what if we have a tendency to let in people that feel good but are not in actuality acting in good ways?
As usual, our neuromodulator dopamine can trick us to go towards chosen people in our life that offer us feelings us excitement, sexuality or intimacy, or even intoxicating effects.
Dopamine does not care what we go towards, it just cares that it is activated by our forward motivated motion. This is why we always have to put effort and awareness into the choices we make every day.
When we let in too may people into our life that our of ill-intent and are only motivated to self serve, overtime our nervous system can become deeply dysregulated and therefore we can experience mental, emotional, physical and/or cognitive issues and ailments.
After sitting within the realm of social psychology for a couple months exploring how best to tackle these incessant and totally warranted inquiries, I realized it is as simple as dividing humans into their categories of intent and motivation. This psychological dividing or reciprocity styles of human types is called Givers and Takers. To be a bit more defined, we can actually add a third category of humans referred to as Matchers.
Before I get started, I have to ask - What do you think you are?
Are you a Giver, Taker, or Matcher?
Furthermore, because I am curious, do you think a Matcher might be synonymous to a people pleaser? Or do you think a Matcher is a healthy, balanced approach to social situations and relationships?
Imagine the following…
You need help moving furniture next week and are about to meet up with friends for lunch. You have the opportunity to ask them to help you move, or not. Which of the following would you do:
Ask your friends if they will move all of your stuff.
Ask your friends if they will help you move all the stuff you can not move on your own.
Tell your friends you are stressed out having to move and do not know right now how you are going to get it all accomplished but by god willing it will somehow happen.
Your answer directly reflects your reciprocity style determining how you approach interactions. And yes, your reciprocity style shifts and is likely context dependent.
Aright, let’s define what a Giver, Taker, and Matcher are for humans!
Givers essentially postpone their own priorities to help others succeed. Givers identify and honor other people's needs. Givers proactively put in effort in place of others, they will even take on the mental burdens that belong to others. Extreme givers always offer help, at times even without being asked. Givers can be hyper alert to others. Givers can be at different points on the continuum: literally taking care of your responsibilities, giving up their time to listen to your baggage, creating and executing solutions, showing up for you when you are having your third emotional breakdown of the week and it’s only tuesday. Givers may accidentally give up their own needs to fulfill the needs of others. Being an intense giver may mean codependency is really running the show. One reason humans become codependent adults is because in childhood their emotions were ignored and/or punished. When children are emotionally neglected it can lead to an adult with low self esteem and shame.
I walked away from my childhood thinking I was broken, evil, and unloveable. And for the longest time I could not figure out why. I was a straight A student, I chose to give my Self a curfew even though all caregivers did not mind when I was home, I was immensely involved in extracurriculars, I started work at age 12 and was hardocre working as soon as I tuned 16. I was a great kid. I was everyone's friend, until they stepped over my boundaries. I never ever set out to hurt others and I surely did not take from others as that seemed dangerous. Somehow as I walked out of the chaotic village home and into my first rental as a 18 year old I thought of my Self as completely worthless and I thought that I was made of darkness. At this point in my life I did not understand my anxiety, growing depression, life-choice-induced ADHD, inherited bipolar, and the ever-colorful OCD. I just thought I was terrible and in turn that made me feel terrible.
There are Unhappy Givers.
If you feel you identify mainly as a giver, I ask you this: Are you okay with giving and is it something you do silently? Or after some honest reflection, do you complain or despair over what you have done for others?
Unhappy givers are very acutely aware of being givers, yet they grudgingly grab other people’s work rather than set boundaries. Unhappy givers may seek external validation and feel that if they say “no” then others won’t find them valuable. If you think about the childhood story I just shared, perhaps you can see how trauma can shape our reciprocity style and how we actually feel about our behaviors. Even though unhappily giving, this type of human feels secure knowing that people need them and they almost suffer from a fear of missing out. I know I did. I have had to put in years of deep work to override my reciprocity style. I have had to rewire how my autonomic nervous system wants to instantly respond when others ask me for help, or I notice they need help even without asking. I even went to trauma therapy to learn how to not help everyone all the time. It is important we only help those that ask for help. This being said, we might find our Self surrounded by people that have identified our Self as a giver and take advantage of our giving via their taking. Most unhappy givers truly want to limit their giving, but feel compelled to give and may even dig for extra work in their attempts to help. This is the nervous system trying to ease itself by giving though in fact if we are over-giving this is a maladaptive behavior that doesn't serve us in the real world as well as can jumble up our internal world.
Unhappy givers have a lot of built up resentment. They get overwhelmed helping others and worry about their own priorities being put on hold. They blame the takers without realizing how they encourage them. They get stuck in a vicious cycle of grabbing work to help and feeling resentful.
I used to get immensely pissed off at a majority of the people in my life. Though some of this has to do with lower emotional regulation and built up aggression from childhood and having CPTSD, I have also identified that a lot of my inability to regulate was because I was surrounded by takers. I welcomed a slew of takers into my life. Yep, my choice. I can recall being at so many gatherings or outings and I was the only person handling…anything and everything. Everyone seemed to be relaxing or having so much fun, except me. It was like I was the mama bear workhorse superwoman. No wonder I was invited to everything all the time! I was free labor and then some! Being a business owner meant I have a lot going on in my life, a lot of opportunities, and a lot of free swag. There are dozens of people during the time of developing a friendship as well as in retrospect I can totally see how they were just piggy backing off of my life. I would grow so frustrated with my friends, and rightfully so. I thought a lot of my negative feelings were my own fault. And indeed, in some ways they were, because I chose those people to be in my life because I did not evaluate them properly alongside my boundaries and standards. These people, these takers, clearly were not in my lane. Our lane is our boundaries and standards, and I had a huge tendency to swerve outside of it when making friends and establishing acquaintances.
"The psychology of a taker is to get as much as possible from an interaction and give little to nothing in return," says human behavior expert Trevicia Williams, PhD. "They thrive on seizing the self-centered benefits of encounters and relationships with other people.” I love that phrasing - “self centered benefits”.
Takers seek and accept assistance all the time. Takers certainly love when givers identify their needs before making them known; that’s royal treatment to some takers. Takers may be well-meaning people who are simply insensitive to the needs of others and preoccupied with their own to-do list. For me it;s hard to imagine someone means well and yet doesn't mean to practice consideration. Truth is in the behavior of people. The perception of a taker regarding the amount of taking they indulge in is mostly an underestimate of reality. They often do not introspect and they rationalize taking by being convinced that they are too busy with real priorities, it is well deserved, or somehow they explain it away as karma coming back to them in a positive way. Takers have a heightened awareness of doing even minor things for others and a weak sense of getting major help from others. In other words, takers have a limited capacity for realizing how often they take, but when it comes to giving, it is super blown up and usually a big deal to them.
I couldn't agree more with this fundamental definition of takers.
Takers seem oblivious to what they are doing, but seem keenly aware when they are not getting what they want. I have had so many lady friends that are takers.
A great example is the following and I bet we all have experienced this as well as done this to someone at least once:
You show up to hang out, and if you are anything like me, this hangout is not often and highly anticipated. I love my friends, but as a major introvert I do not require a lot of time shared. This being said, the time shared indeed needs to be quality time or else I am steeping the F* out of that “friendship”.
PSA we are not each other's therapists and toxic femininity has confused us to believe our feelings are not only ultimate reality, but our feelings are to be heavily over-talked about. Dare I posit that we should run our mouth on solving problems rather than incessantly living through our problems.
Okay, so, you show up to hangout and expect it to be some quality time. Before you know it, you are 45 minutes into listening to your friend yammer on and on about her latest crush or boyfriend and there is no sign of it coming to an end. You are pretty sure she is repeating herself and saying the same few things in a slew of different emotionally wrapped up ways. She's obsessing and fixating on her own feelings; talking about this person is creating quite the same chemical slurry as when you are around that person and so she is intoxicating her Self by using you as a soundboard to relive this person. You don’t actually exist to them. You're just useful to them and their needs. This is not okay and you deserve reciprocity. You also deserve to be able to speak about what's going on in your life, too. In this regard, if you have or are experiencing anything like this, I urge you to question this connection. Yeah, you may love this person, but if we know anything about the human experience and establishing lifelong connections, love is absolutely and never enough. Just because you love something or someone doesn't mean it needs to be in your life. And, if you choose to have things or people in your life that you love, but they ultimately take from you, here are some things to expect:
Healthy minded friends notice your decision making and determine if you are the right kind of human to be in their life. Afterall, you clearly can not honor your own boundaries and standards. Are you going to always honor theirs? It is a red flag to overstep your own needs, and quality people notice it.
You will battle with our Self and ultimately lose the fight. Your mind will be telling you the truth of the matter, that your needs are not being reciprocated and/or met. Your nervous system will surely become dysregulated and you may experience anxiety, symptoms such as nausea, and the onset of autoimmune disorders. You will not feel comfortable even though you are telling your Self everything is alright. Want to learn more about how we can’t lie to our Self? Check out the recent podcast and blog post on Toxic Positivity. The ailments I took on were alopecia, acid reflux, adult acne, anxiety, and paranoia just to name a few. Do you think certain people are worth compromising mental, physical, or emotional health and wellbeing?
When we love something and have a deep desire for it, but it is not good for us, this is not only a problem. When we love something that is not good for us so much that we continue to move toward it, not only has that become a useless habit, it has likely grown into an addiction. We can become addicted not just to the feeling of love, but to particular people, places, and things. The toxic relationship most of us have with our phones is truly a low grade addiction as well as our phone is clearly taking and taking while offering a false sense of giving.
Similar to how givers can be happy or unhappy, takers can really feel the feels, too. Let's look at the difference between unhappy and happy takers.
Unhappy Takers might just be anxious Matchers that can’t show up to give from time to time.
Apparently, unhappy takers are mostly well meaning people who are aware that they get help more than they provide help. They justify being takers by thinking of the situation as temporary, but they are not at ease — they have a nagging feeling of doing something wrong that they are unable or unwilling to pinpoint. Unhappy takers are likely anxious humans trying to cope with meeting their needs as well as struggling to move toward helping others. Anxiety can hinder us from doing exactly what we want in our mind.
Unhappy takers feel overwhelmed with their own stuff and their intention is to help others once they have more time or social wherewithal. Unhappy takers want to change but are unable to put effort into it at least for “now”. Again, this could be because of underlying anxiety and fears.
Are you the kind of person that does not help when overwhelmed? Do you only help when you have ample free time? Does helping when overwhelmed make you feel better, worse, or neutral?
Happy Takers are very happy to take and take and take. Afterall, they deserve it.
Happy takers accept help all the time, almost as a right. At best, happy takers perceive themselves as being just a tad bit of a taker. They feel entitled, they think that the givers are lucky to associate with them, and they may even believe that they are doing the givers a favor by providing them with opportunities to help. This sounds like a narcissist if you ask me. They view their givers as having excess time, money and resources to help.Their go to line is “my plate is full.” Happy takers believe that the discussion about being a giver or a taker is unnecessary, since they feel that taking isn’t really a “big deal” especially if you are friends — why bring business into friendship? Happy takers are unable to see a major difference between themselves and their givers: the givers proactively offer help and they don’t. Happy takers see themselves as having a busy life with real priorities including a non-negotiable leisure time. Unhappy takers live in a hierarchy where they are at the top looking down at most everyone.
Do you think all unhappy takers are narcissists? Do you think unhappy takers lack certain cognitive capacities for empathy, consideration, or equality in community?
Last, but not least are Matchers
Matchers give and take in equal measure. There are different types of matchers. I have certainly had different types of matcher-friendships. Sometimes it’s a heavy back and forth, while with others we rarely if not ever exchange help and favors. Matchers might help a lot and also ask for help when they need it or there might be matchers who neither help much nor depend on others to get their job done. I typically lean a bit on the Giver side though I live with a Matcher mindset. I just don;t ask for a lot of help, but I love helping others. I have a strong sense of community and believe ZI need to show up for my neighbors and friends in need. It’s not about an even balance, it’s about functioning and happy community members AKA family or friends. Matchers are people who keep a good balance of giving and taking.
Now that I have laid out the various types of Givers and Takers, and showed how Matchers can be a bit diverse, too. What kind of reciprocity style do you think you embody most often?
Who do you think you are to the people in your life?
Do you expect a lot from others? Are you always on alert looking for what needs to be taken care of?
There certainly seems to be a healthy approach to reciprocity - what do you think is the best way to go about giving and taking in life?
Let’s take a deeper look at how each type of person can thrive, survive, or crumble within a functional space.
The functional space I am referring to is the work space. When we are at work with other humans, usually there are times when we have to work together or at least touch base with team members.
What reciprocity style do you think thrives best in the workplace?
Do givers, takers, or matchers come out on top at work and in life?
Givers, Takers, and Matchers at work. Do you think they work together well?
Guess which of these types is the most successful at work!?
It turns out, givers tend to be the worst performers in the workplace. People that are givers are at a disadvantage across a wide range of occupations, because they continually sacrifice their own success to help others succeed, according to research. I feel this. I have super struggled with this. Not just at work, but in life in general.
My traumatic childhood embedded codepency in me as an adult. All of my twenties, I was hyper vigilant and perpetually seeking to elevate other people's lives, but not my own. It felt better to help others rather than touch my own life. Copdependy is a wild mindset that creates super unhelpful favors for the human actually performing said behaviors. Most of the good stuff goes to other people and you are left with no time or energy to give sufficiently to your Self. And, if you are super like 20-something Breezi, then you also have crippling anxiety and rumination from any and every interaction you had.
Okay, so, if givers do not perform well at work, then that must mean takers or matchers are the top performers, right? Not exactly.
It’s the giving people, again.
The worst and best performers at work are others-focused, and takers and matchers tend to land in the middle.
At this point I think we are all wondering, does being a giver pay off? It seems giving does have a positive impact at an organizational level. Nathan P. Podsakoff and his team at the University of Arizona conducted a meta-analysis across 38 studies covering more than 3,500 business units, and found that companies with a culture of generosity and giving—which they call “Organizational Citizenship Behaviors”—are more likely to have higher productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, as well as reduced costs.
The individual impact of being a giver is different than when an entire group or company operates within the realm of giving. Being a giver in a friend group is not the same as being a giver in a work group.
In addition, givers may get more support from fellow colleagues on their way up to success, which totally makes sense. These people are freaking loved for what they do for others. Humans inherently root for the kind humans.
Think about it - Something distinctive happens when givers succeed: it seems to spread and cascade. When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. Research shows that people tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch. In contrast, when givers win, people are rooting for them and supporting them. Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them. Givers may inspire others to act in a more giving way, even if the main objective and motivation is not to actually be more giving, but to reap the benefits of giving more. Hey, whatever get’s people helping others a bit more I am here for that social psychology magic making.
You could say that successful givers generate win-win-win situations; when they succeed, their colleagues are elevated, and the company performs better, too. Since givers can end up either at the lowest or the highest levels of performance, how can you make sure you are one of the most successful givers…if that's who you want to be?
If your goal is moderate success, then living as a taker or a matcher will serve you fine. But if you want to be part of the top performing members of your organization or network, or to have a positive impact on the world and foster win-win-win relationships with people around you, you may want to try to become a smart giver. If you haven't noticed, I am a major giver in the online realm. I have different boundaries in the real world, and I think that's wise as the world that exists around us surely does seem to operate differently than when people are behind a screen. We seem to be more brave, but also more selfish, behind screens.
Here are 3 ways to determine and choose what reciprocity style is best for your life, especially if you are a giver that is not reaping the benefits:
Change your mindset. Consider the lens through which you are viewing what you do. How do we perceive our chosen behaviors? Who are we in our relationships with friends and family? Do people rely on us or do people seem to avoid us in some way? For the professional context, ask yourself who exactly is affected by your work? How do our choices impact the experience of colleagues and customers? How can we align our decisions so when we win, everyone wins? Instead of being self-focused like a taker or transactional like a matcher, think of an expanding pie where everyone can benefit from success.
Help wisely. We need to consider the way that we are giving. Tracking impact does not mean we need to become a taker and only help when it benefits our Self. We also do not need to become a matcher and only help when we receive equal value in return. Rather, it means that we need to make sure we are helping achieve goals that are beneficial in general, not only to the person we are helping. Ask yourself: is this good for the better of the whole? (community, family, work)
Track your impact. Self-reflection is a must. The more we become self aware, the more we can make things happen in our life. Write down who you have helped. Was it just one person, who may have been a taker? Or did your help have a wider positive impact, which justifies the time and energy you spent to provide support? If you feel like your impact wasn’t as positive as you expected, try to think of the factors at play, and how you can be wiser next time you are asked for help. You might find that saying No opens up the opportunity for you to feel better about helping, strengthens your autonomy, as well as learn what types of people are best for your life.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of reciprocity styles, remember that it is a choice: you can practice wise generosity to become a smart giver and create a positive ripple effect around yourself.
Or you can wonder why the vibes are always weird, because in truth you are a happy taker.
Instead of an automatic behavior, choosing how we engage with friends and colleagues can be a conscious choice. This just isn’t about reciprocity. We can choose far beyond begging a GIver, Taker, or Matcher. Every single thing we do is a choice. If you feel out of control, that's your dopamine and other neural chemicals running the show. This happens when we constantly go after quick gratification, desires and wants rather than fundamental needs and longer term goals. You can always take back control. You can always choose differently, If it hurts, again, that's dopamine trying to get you to go back to your old ways. Lean in where you may not want to lean the most, and you might find greatness was hanging out there all along wondering when you were going to show up.
What are you going to choose to do?
Who are you going to chose to be, for your Self and others
I’d love to hear about your journey and realizations in the comment section on YouTube.
It is always up to us! We always have control, even if it seems we have lost it. It never slips away from our grasp.
If you want to learn even more, check out the other exceptional blog posts where you can also find recommended products and supporting links in each blog post. You can also enjoy 2 free lifestyle success courses as well as other options to upgrade your life.
All the best today beebs!
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