Now that I got your attention… it’s not at all what you think. Introducing the Cycle of Restitution/Retribution.
No – it’s not what you think. I am not suggesting that you “get even” with people in the traditional sense. This is NOT about hurting those who hurt you. In fact, that’s the last thing I would advocate in a relationship blog. It’s been said that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. My outcome is to offer instead a new and better vision of what is actually possible when people can come together in understanding.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Reciprocity?
The Law of Reciprocity is a spiritual law that much like gravity, is working all the time, whether you know it or not. It doesn’t even matter if you agree with, like it or get it…it’s working anyway – so my belief is – you might as well work WITHIN the law in order to attract your highest and best good. Reciprocation, in its simplest essence, is that natural human instinct buried in our DNA that compels us to do nice things for those who are nice to us. You may have heard it expressed as “one good turn deserves another” or perhaps even “one hand washes the other.” The reason these phrases have entered our common vernacular; not to mention, our awareness, is because, as I mentioned, the notion of reciprocating is so deeply engrained in the human psyche. In fact, you could even say at some level, that drive to work together is one of our greatest survival instincts and gifts
The Dark Side of Reciprocity
However…there is a dark side to reciprocity…which is what I referenced in my headline to get your attention. People also have a compulsion to punish or negatively affect those who harm us. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrases “turnabout is fair play” or “I’ll show them?”
Who’s Keeping Score?
Actually, we all keep score at some level so it’s worth noting that human beings are naturally driven to maintain a neutrality of sorts. In essence, imagine we all have an emotional bank account. When someone does something nice that makes a deposit in it, We carry a positive balance and accrue VALUE. Likewise, when someone harms you or puts you in scarcity, fear or lack, you experience a debit in your emotional bank account.
Deposits = Restitution
When someone has a positive balance in their emotional bank account, we experience them as generous, kind or maybe even grateful perhaps. These are the givers who think nothing of passing their good fortune along to others because they do not live in scarcity or lack. Specifically, in the model I am teaching, people who have a positive balance in their account are compelled to make restitution for those who’ve treated them well. Again, it’s that compulsion to get back to zero or neutrality where we reap what we sew and sew what we reap. Think of it as a kind of natural, human homeostasis where you must remain neutral or slightly positive in order to be satisfied in your relationship.
How does it work?
Think of it this way: how many times have you received something nice or unexpected…then immediately began thinking of how to say thank you in return? These are the people who make excellent relationship partners – and THIS is the Cycle of Restitution in action.
Debits = Retribution
Again, by the same token, when someone harms us or hurts us – even if it was totally unintentional – there is a tendency to punish, push away or pull back. This unleashes what I call the Cycle of Retribution…a literal “getting even” in response to some type of slight. The risk is – if you “withdraw” too often, eventually any relationship will wind up bankrupt – no matter how good it started out. That’s because eventually, this cycle will erode the very foundation of trust that supports the whole relationship.
Out of Balance; Out of Love?
Let me give you a very common example of how this very Cycle I’m discussing can literally ruin a decent relationship where two people really do care for one another. Often I hear one partner complain of another, “I’ve done everything for them!” However, the other partner totally discounts what they’ve done because they didn’t agree on the VALUE of the contribution. Quite often, both partners will agree on the AMOUNT of contribution or work…but they totally disagree with WHAT IT’S WORTH because they have very different values, expectations or beliefs.
The Bottom Line
The Cycle of Restitution/Retribution is a natural part of human relationships and it will always be in effect – so you need to understand it – and make it work if you want your relationship to last. The key is understanding that the whole balance concept centers on the value of appreciation versus the value of what’s provided. In other words, there has to be an equilibration of values to keep your relationship solid and thriving. It is useless to do things for your partner if you value them more than they do so effective communication and deal-making are critical if you want to keep your love “account” growing or generating “interest.”