Why You Never Get What You Want

by Nancy on August 15, 2011

Have you ever noticed how sometimes the most profound lessons in life are so simple you can’t believe you didn’t get it until now?

I just had this experience in the last few weeks. I’d like to share it with you so that you can benefit from it if it’s something that hits you on the forehead like it did me (SMACK – I could have had a V8).

A few weeks ago, I was in a training where the facilitator shared a concept that whatever you feel you didn’t get enough of as a child, you will never get enough of as an adult no matter how much you try to get it.

It’s like a void that can’t be filled. So whether it was love, praise, attention, or security you didn’t get enough of, you will never get enough love, praise, attention or security to make you feel whole.

Some people will seek their whole lives to get enough. They will go from relationship to relationship to get enough love. Job to job to get enough praise or security. Some people perform for a living to get enough attention.

But it will never be enough and eventually you will start to blame the spouse, or job, or children when you realize you’re not happy and fulfilled.

This is the cause of a lot of insecurity and angst in life. And it perpetuates itself over and over again.

The ONLY way to end this cycle is to give away what you didn’t get. You read that right. Since you can never get enough anyway, you must give it away.

If you never got enough love, love everyone you come in contact with. If you never got enough attention, instead of expecting attention, lavish attention on those close to you.

My personal realization was that while I feel I got plenty of love and attention as a child (I was the baby of the family!), I don’t remember getting enough praise. We were all corrected constantly but rarely told how great or smart we were. It was like we were supposed to automatically know this!

Anyway, it holds true that I have sought praise my whole life. In my relationships, in my business, it’s been very important to me. But so it goes, it never seemed to be enough. And ultimately, the more I got, the less it meant and the more I would want.

So my remedy is to lavish praise on people. And then my BIG bonk on the head realization? I am STINGY with praise! I could hardly believe it.

But as I looked at my relationships, especially with those I’m closest to, I have to admit, I hold back praise. So here I am, wanting it, feeling like I didn’t get enough of it and I’m doing the exact same thing to other people.

I made a commitment to start praising people more – out loud. (I think it – I just haven’t been saying it.)

Take my 28 year old niece (whose name I won’t mention). I think she is one of the most beautiful, intelligent, talented and sophisticated women on this planet. I sing her praises to everyone I know – everyone but her. You know the last time I told her exactly how much I admire and love her? Her graduation. From high school. If you’re doing the math, that’s 11 years ago.

I justify this by telling myself that she knows how much I love her. But didn’t my family assume the same thing about me? She knows how much she’s loved so why tell her how unique, creative, special and smart she is?

SMACK! (that’s my hand hitting my forehead for the third time!)

There are three reasons why I think giving away what you didn’t get works.

  1. By giving away what you didn’t get, you change your focus from yourself (I need XXX, I want XXX) to others (I can give them XXX). And what you focus on expands!
  2. You change from a scarcity mentality (there’s not enough because you didn’t get XXX) to an abundance mentality (there’s plenty because you’re providing XXX).
  3. When you give what you want, it somehow finds its way back to you. As you appreciate and love and praise others, what do you think is most likely to come back to you?

So what about you? Think back to when you were 5, 6, or 7 years old. What do you feel you didn’t get enough of?

Once you figure that out, think about how that shows up in your life? Have you tried to get it over and over in your relationships without success? Or like some people, have you built a career around getting that very thing you desire?

Lastly, how can you give it away more so it doesn’t drive your behavior and decisions anymore?

If this information gives you the same smack in the head it gave me, I’d love to hear your story.

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