There are many sayings that remind us that what you give is what you get. For instance, what goes around, comes around captures the idea that what we give is what we will receive. For some this is the idea of Karma, and for others it is the essence of the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I’ve been thinking about this in terms of forgiveness and have been exploring the question, What am I for giving?

It occurred to me that when I am unforgiving, feeling victimized by an event or circumstance from the past, desiring revenge and attached to a point of view that results in pain, suffering and misery that in those very moments what I am giving – initially to myself – is pain, suffering and misery. The equation is actually quite simple: the thoughts we focus our attention on expand and inform our experience in the present moment. Here’s an example from a recent coaching session with a client.

Here’s the background, the “what is:” Jane and her husband, Mitch had been separated for 18 months. He moved back into the family home a year ago. Nine months ago they renewed their marriage vows and shortly after that Jane discovered that during the 18 months of their separation Mitch had been living with another woman. This stirred up explosive feelings of anger, betrayal, fear and anxiety in Jane every few weeks.

One night while they were out for dinner celebrating Jane’s new job she started thinking “Now that I have a new job, I bet Mitch is going to leave me and go back and live with HER and really leave me for good.” This thought captured Jane’s attention. At first she tried to pretend she was having a jolly old time celebrating, but Mitch could sense something was not right. He asked Jane, “What’s going on? You were just so happy a few minutes ago.” Jane blurted out, “I bet that now that I have a job you’re going to leave me for good to go back and live with HER.”

Mitch, who had traveled down this path repeatedly with Jane during the past nine months got angry and said, “I’m here with you right now. You’re the one I want to be with. What do I have to do for you to believe that I love you? I’m sick and tired of this over and over again. Whenever we’re happy you find a way to focus on the past and turn a goodtime into a miserable time. I’m leaving.” Mitch stormed out of the restaurant.

A few days later during our session it became clear to Jane that the past events were truly not the problem. She and Mitch have been enjoying one another and their family time more than ever before. The problem is her habitual and obsessive victim mindset.

Simply stated as she gives attention and energy to thoughts that result in feeling anger, resentment, betrayal and fear she is actually giving these feelings to herself in the present moment. This is a crucial lesson that when learned and applied sooner rather than later, illuminates your path to greater peace and happiness. So, ask yourself the question, What am I for giving?

When I recently asked this question to the Camp Verde Middle School students participating in the Gift of Forgiveness Project their responses were: love, friendship, humor, kindness, joy, peace and compassion. What are your answers?

When you find yourself stuck in misery, anger, pain and suffering ask yourself if what you are giving in that moment is a true reflection of the change you wish to see in the world. And if it isn’t, acknowledge what you are feeling and then bring your attention to the present moment as you consciously choose a new thought that is a clear reflection of what you are for giving.

Author's Bio: 

Susyn Reeve, M.Ed. is the's Official Expert Attitude Guide and the co-creator of Self-Esteem-Experts and WITH Forgiveness. She is the author of the award-winning book, Choose Peace and Happiness and The Gift of the Acorn and WITH Forgiveness - Are You Ready?

Contact her to schedule a coaching session or to arrange to have her speak to your organization or group (