Healthy Relationships Should Have Equal Serve & Return Unequal give and take in relationships are not good for our mental health

The core of our self-development is how our parents and caregivers responded to our needs and emotions. Havard University’s Center on The Developing Child calls this ping-pong of human interaction the serve and return of child development. It is crucial for a child’s development and growth.

Healthy Relationships Should Have Equal Serve & Return
Reciprocity, cooperation, and respect are key to healthy relationships   

The serve and return synergy of parent and child molds the brain’s architecture. Hence, when an adult responds positively with eye contact, words, or a hug to a baby’s babbling, gestures, or cries,  neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain. This helps in the development of communication and social skills.

However, when this positive interaction is absent or negative, the developing brain fails to develop optimally. Further, the body’s stress response is activated, flooding the developing brain with potentially harmful stress hormones

Impact of Negative Environments

Many of us grow up in homes where there is a diminished or non-existent serve and return. ACEs score over 4, where one parent is not available or if our parents were neglectful, our need for affirmation and connection would not have been met. We invariably grow up feeling an emptiness inside us. And we end up finding negative ways to fill this void for love and connection. We become addicts or end up in relationships where we become co-dependants to abusive partners.

We don’t have healthy maps of what should be a normal relationship. Thus, we become Yes persons, the doormat, or the people pleaser, never really honoring our needs and feelings.

Serve and Return Relationships

Tragically, those of us who come from abused backgrounds, no longer look upon our needs as valid. Because we were neglected, abused, and invalidated we grow up having this destructive blueprint in our emotional circuitry.

Subsequently, we continue living the belief that we have to only give and should not expect any return. Only then we will be liked and accepted. Invariably, we end up being used and further abused. The key to getting healthy is becoming aware of the interactive dynamics of our relationships.  Every one of our relationships should be a serve-and-return relationship.  Moreover, we need to ask ourselves Are we giving more than we are getting?

Your Feelings Matter

Since you were made to feel like garbage, your needs and feelings were dismissed you develop shame and guilt about your feelings. That may be because the abusive adults in your life were right. How does one get over the shame and guilt of asking for your fair share of emotional returns? There is no easy way.

Nonetheless, you need to learn, that your feelings are valuable pointers to your happiness. Thus, if someone only takes from you, it is wrong. And it is up to you to stop this pattern or end that relationship. There is no turning the other cheek you need to turn on your heel and get out of that trap

I Am Important

You need to acknowledge that emotional needs are normal and validate them. If someone is not honoring, respecting, and helping you equally then that person is not your well-wisher. The key is to realize that ‘I am important’  Hence if someone thinks that you are there for his benefit and service, you need to stand up and state your needs. The recent phenomenon Jordan Peterson has these gems on Youtube Speak your truth or pay the priceDangers of being too agreeable, Don’t be the nice guy

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University – Serve & Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry

Healthy Relationships Are Reciprocal

You owe it to yourself to have fulfilling life experiences. Honoring your feelings and expecting everybody in your life to do so too. It is up to you to stop being used and abused. Anyone who wants something from you had better offer something back in return. Our happiness depends on mutual sharing and caring – equal serve and return.

Image Source: Pixabay

Further Reading:

General Theory of Love – Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini & Richard Lannon

Becoming Attached – Robert Karen

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