A Message in Massage

robert brault

I read somewhere that when you massage another person, your hands gravitate to the areas on their body which are stiff and sore on your own body. The pressure and touch you would like to apply to yourself, you give to the other, as though through them you are massaging yourself. If the other person asks you to move to an area on their body which is not hurting on your body, your investment in the massage becomes more detached, your attention wanders, and your fingers are less interested in working on that area, as though the body to body connection, though still active due to touch, has faded energy-wise. Your fingers will eventually move back to the places where you want to be touched.

This idea has always intrigued me. The area where it is of most interest to me is in applying it to relationships.

It is said that we should give to get… and variations on that concept.

give to get


Some of the variations encourage selfless giving without any thought of receiving, giving being the gift you receive. Some of the other variations promote selfish giving as a means to a selfish end, sometimes couched in seemingly positive terms. Stroke someone’s ego and they will be putty in your hands. Or make sure that you have the exclusive supply of something which someone else needs, then offer it to them on the condition that they give you what you need.

The rules of business often apply to personal relationships.

scottie waves

And when we give, we tend to expect a return on our investment, even if we pretend that we don’t.

When we interact with another being, we often, unconsciously, give to them what we want them to give to us. We fulfill needs which we think are theirs but which are our needs. If they do not appreciate our gift, we feel hurt. We gave them our most precious wish, and they appear to squander it, not see its value, how precious it is… to us. Perhaps because it is not precious to them. And perhaps they are doing the same with us, and feel the same way about how we treat the precious gift they are giving us. Because it is not precious to us.

Unconsciously giving what we want to be given is perhaps most noticeable when buying someone a physical gift.

How many times have you bought someone something you wanted to receive as a gift, you were certain they would love it and then were slightly annoyed because they didn’t appreciate it, not as much as you would have appreciated it if they had given it to you. Or been given a gift which you knew that the other person bought more for themselves than they did for you, and felt annoyed with a touch of guilt, because it was not what you wanted and you feel that they were selfish giving you something they wanted instead.

Why did they not take the time to find out what you wanted. Why did they not give you a gift you’ve always wanted. One which you may have told them about. Repeatedly. The one you always leave hints about. Do they not love you… do you not love yourself, I mean, why on earth are you not giving it to yourself if you want it that much.

Why, indeed.

We are a rather peculiar race… humans are complex, and often make something simple exceedingly complicated.

encouragers wanted

(Is this quote giving what it wants to get?)


The same dynamic applies to verbal interaction. When we speak, we often say words we would like to hear said to us.

Such as the first time you say ‘I love you’ to a new love, which ends in an awkward pause, then, if they don’t return the words, the awkward pause turns into an awkward situation, and sometimes an awkward relationship. Okay, so maybe you said ‘I love you’ because it was a spontaneous outburst, so why do you need to hear it in return. Maybe you don’t… but if they don’t say it, your mind will notice and come up with theories which may border on the paranoid and override reason and logic, tipping into the illogical.

Verbal interactions are full of monologues disguised as conversations. Everyone talking about themselves, not really listening to what the other person is saying because what we want to hear is the words we are speaking, not the words being spoken to us. Unless others tell us what we want to hear. Which usually only happens if others are receptive to our needs and good at spotting cues and prompts from us. But that is often conditional, and the contract is easily broken is you don’t return the favour.

Such as when we ask people a question which we would like them to ask us.

Have you noticed how often a person will ask you a question, then answer it before you have a chance to do so. What’s your favourite colour, they ask, then quickly blurt out their favourite colour and explain why, whether you are interested or not. At the end of their favourite colour story they may even remember that they asked you the question first, and they may even give you the opportunity to answer, unless they are very busy and have to dash off, no time to chat. How many times will you let that happen with this one person before you are too busy to stop and chat with them.

dale carnegie

And of course we apply to others the emotions, psychology, and whatnot which belongs to us.

We accuse them of feeling a certain way, when in actual fact it is us who feel that way, and we probably have no idea how the other person truly feels because our emotions are obscuring our view of them. But we tell ourselves that this is our intuition picking things up from them, so it’s true and if they deny it we don’t believe them. They can’t get through to us because our emotions and psychological stories are forming a barrier between us.

Jealousy is a very interesting feeling, because it has been known to be due to the person who is behaving jealously projecting upon their partner their own wandering eyes and heart. They are not prepared to admit to themselves how they are genuinely feeling, maybe it is buried in their subconscious, peeking through but unacknowledged, so they prove their love, mainly to themselves, by being jealous of their partner and accusing their partner of things which have very little to do with the partner and everything to do with them.

Why do we do this, what are we seeking from it. There must be a goal… or is it just the human way.


  1. very true and very beautifully written, luckily there are also more authentic and mutual relationships and healthier exchanges with less projections and mirror playing. they give me courage not to give up. hey is it me being so optimistic??:) How weird to hear my own voice saying this…


  2. Love this so much…I have always loved the motto to “give good” & look for the best in everyone. I still believes it holds true but after being with a friend who never could get enough from me & burned my ass in the process, I have learned & revised my status.My new motto is give good to those who deserve it. So how do you know who deserves it? You dont always know but one thing I do know for sure is that if you are bustin’ tail & hustlin’ and giving too much to someone…you need to stand back & ask why? And actually really figure out why. Giving too much is not normal but giving good is. There is a difference.


    • Thank you 🙂

      Very true, there is a balance to be found in the way of giving. And also receiving, because receiving is also a form of giving, as you pointed out when someone receives what you give by demanding more and more from you because they never get or have enough, they give in the way they receive, and what they give lets you know that you’ve given enough.

      I tend to look for reciprocity. A mutual exchange of giving and receiving. A healthy back and forth flow.

      And you’re very right – if you’re overdoing something, like giving, towards a person who seems to just take, whose idea of giving is just taking or giving grief, then absolutely – you need to stand back and ask why? And actually really figure out why. – Brilliant observation!


  3. I think there is an inherent loneliness to the human experience. It’s existential. I don’t know where it comes from. It just is. And there isn’t a solution to it. It can’t be fixed. And the interactions- the giving and receiving- are often an unconscious attempt to quell that loneliness. It’s not really that we need that “thing” that we’re asking for. We’re just compelled to soften that loneliness.

    I think we expect too much from each other. And we’d be better off taking care of ourselves, and letting others give what they give, and stay as long as they want. Maybe we’d all be better off, if we didn’t attach quite so deeply? if we enjoyed people, but were more willing to let them come and go?

    But I don’t know. Maybe that’s my lifelong exposure to Narcissim talking? :-))


    • I agree that loneliness is an intrinsic part of the human experience. I think it’s neutral, but is coloured by our perception of it, our tendency to split things into either/or rather than view them as a whole, a both, which holds contrasts. I think loneliness is a part of being an individual, and is a natural feeling. How we judge that feeling is what makes loneliness what it is to us as individuals.

      My loneliness is my solace. It wasn’t always, but it was always. I just have seen it from different perspectives throughout the years, sometimes getting stuck in one perspective for a while. Putting those perspectives together is tricky, as they sometimes oppose each other, but worth it. At least I think so.

      Exposure to narcissism… well, the narcissistic phase of development is where we become aware of ourselves as separate from others, before this phase those boundaries are blurred, we are one with all in many ways. Those who get irrevocably wounded and stuck in this phase never separate from others – hence those who have NPD see others as an extension of themselves. Healthy boundaries never form. So those with NPD are convinced that others are the source of what they need, and those who are repeatedly exposed to narcissists but who do not develop NPD come to believe something similar – a variation of the same concept, often of the – I am the source of something for others. This creates enmeshment and fudged boundaries between self and other.

      Loneliness is the cure, but is often seen as the problem.

      Children of those with NPD experience a stark solitude. Being alone is the norm, connecting is often a source of pain and loss of self, but being alone maintains the self.

      Very tricky to work with. Perspective, detachment and viewed from multiple angles, reviewing and sometimes rewriting our story, to include more facets, is helpful.


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