There has been much confusion for me throughout my life about the difference between being generous and being clear on exchange. The confusion here for me is a boundary issue and it is one that I am working on right now very diligently. I can even pinpoint the moment when the boundary gets unclear. Growing up I had a couple of what I thought were witty adages which turned out to be weak survival skills, things like, "fake it 'til you make it," and "it's all in the facade, you've got to create the facade," meaning -- create the image you want of yourself (on the outside) with its firm foundation of fear and a lovely sheen of syrupy fake positiveness. Then pray like hell it sticks. The boundary gets unclear when I can't let go of the identification with the syrupy fake positiveness of my past. "I want to be everything to everybody. I want to be the ultimate people-pleaser in the world. I want to make everyone happy, then I will be happy, right?"
Here's the point: decide what the exchange is and stick to it. What matters is clarity. I can say, "I'm going to give away my services for free because I trust that I will be provided for,"(which would say volumes about my self worth) or I can say "I'm going to charge you one thousand dollars because that's what I'm worth." Clarity happens before the exchange takes place, not after. It is important to honor my decision in what I am comfortable with and not change it in the moment because I've made assumptions that by waiving my worth I am helping another. Without the fortitude of standing by my decision about the exchange at hand, those undesirable emotions of anger,frustration, confusion, loss of self-confidence that happen by trying to make everyone else happy will be there after the exchange takes place.
A lot of my fear and insecurity in exchange relationships has been around wanting to stay positive and in the feelings of abundance. Yes, it started in the past with the "facade." Then when books like The Secret and the Law of Attraction came out it forced me to question what I knew about being positive. To be positive, yet do it in a real way. Once you've lived in the "facade," real feelings of abundance and trust can feel like mockery. Thus I have often felt an imbalance between the joy of giving with a generous heart and the fear of someone taking advantage of me. Hence the question: How do I balance being generous, open, and trusting that the universe will fulfill my needs with grace, without having that lingering feeling of fear in the back of my heart ? The answer is faith.
Faith has never been my forte. There's a Bible verse on faith that reminds me of my mom because it was one of her often repeated proverbs. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." I have ignored the word FAITH until now. I never understood how it could move mountains. I'm a visual learner so, "evidence of things not seen," never worked for me.
When I try to understand this verse I feel like I've been called to the top of a great mountain to answer to an ancient seer who is giving me a riddle wrapped in a conundrum that holds the key to understanding the universe. To rephrase, I'm trapped in a bad Woody Allen movie in the 70's, or worse, Logan's Run. It is a riddle I must answer or the end will soon be eminent.