You can only give what you allow yourself to receive. Lawlis

Most of us, when, we hear the word “addiction” understandably have our thoughts turn to dangerous and self-destructive behaviors.  But Dr. William Glasser, the creator of Reality Therapy, suggests a different (and very productive) way of seeing addiction. 

Instead of seeing addictive behavior as compulsive and irrational, Glasser views ”addiction” as a neutral term.  It is simply a synonym for the word “need.”  His point is that we all need something.  Glasser instead suggests that happiness or sadness, success or failure, and rational versus emotionally driven behavior, all flow from what we are “addicted” to. 

This led to the coining of the terms “positive addiction” and “negative addiction.”  We all know what Glasser meant by negative addiction: alcohol, drugs, compulsive gambling, eating shopping, etc.  But what are so-called “positive addictions”?

In the coming newsletters, I will review the Four Positive Addictions of Reality Therapy.  Today, we will discuss the first of them: Giving and Receiving Love

This sounds to be emotionally driven, but it is not.  The extension, as well as the reception, of love in all of its forms is seen as a choice.  It is a rational decision to offer support, friendship and caring to others.   And in so doing, we benefit ourselves as well.    To paraphrase Shakespeare, “tThe quality of giving love is twice blessed.  It blesses both the giver and the receiver.”   The giving of love is a symbiotic pattern of conduct that happy, successful, clear thinking individuals build into their daily lives.

But let’s go back to “symbiosis.”  We began by describing the value of helping others, but we haven’t discussed the second part of the first positive addiction: “receiving of love”.   Therefore, a symbiotic relationship is a complementary one.  Two parties serve each other via some positive service.  It is my experience that few of us are “balanced” when it comes to the first of Glasser’s Positive Addictions.   We are better at giving love than receiving it.  Or the reverse. Some of us derive personal gratification by helping others, while our counterparts provide good experiences for their peers by graciously and thankfully accepting support and assistance. 

For example, have any of us ever been disappointed when a friend wouldn’t allow us to return a favor of assistance and support?  More pointedly, have we ever rebuffed the kindness of others?  In doing so, we denied our neighbor the joy that we derive when we have helped them previously.

Simply stated, some of us are good at giving love, while others of us are skillful accepters of it.  Keep in mind that, according to Dr. Glasser,  both are seen as “positive addictions”, but we are better at one pattern than the other.  And like a child holding a great report card with a single blemish, the task is to work on one’s “low grade.”  So if we feel best about ourselves when we are helping, the challenge is to accept the kindness of others.  And conversely,  “help seekers” need to extend themselves to others for their own benefit as well.

Homework:  Gaze into your metaphorical mirror and commit yourself to both giving and receiving love, in all its forms, for personal benefit and global improvement.  Look for opportunities to do both.  They are out there….waiting for you.