Ep. 107- Giving & Receiving (Part 2): Updating Your Menu

Hey there – Today we are continuing the conversation about the personal dynamics behind giving and receiving. 

In episode 106, we looked at ways to create our own menu of wants and how we then share (or don’t share) that menu with others. I used an analogy of going into a restaurant and trying to figure out what to order – then took it a step further about learning how to instead create our own menu. 

As a public speaker, a trainer, and even as a podcaster, I often joke that I teach what I most need to learn. And that certainly was true for me these last couple of weeks because I found myself writing and re-writing a menu of wants after having recorded that episode. 

The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that a guiding principle for any personal list is the option to change our mind on what we want, what we need, and even what we receive.

There are so many sedimentary layers that come from exploring our internal, organic opinions. We are, naturally, influenced by the world around us. We think…hmmm, what has been on the menu before, what is being offered now, who is doing the offering (if anyone), are we having FOMO on what others are ordering, and what is the visible and hidden costs of the options before us. 

In the psychology field, there is a term called ‘social cohesion’ and this refers to interpersonal relations and interactions among a group or community. Most of us have experienced social cohesion in different forms, whether we have been in groups through academics and schooling, neighborhoods, religious or social affiliations, work environments, etc. 

In these cases, decisions and preferences get set according to the collective needs and wants, or sometimes just the rules made before we got there. There can even be cultural and gender dynamics as well that become subconscious influences as we try to separate our own opinions and desires from the others around us. 

I’ll use an example. Let’s go back to the restaurant scenario. This time, you are there with a group of people. As everyone looks at the menu, an animated discussion begins around getting different dishes to share. One person has an allergy, another person doesn’t like a certain ingredient, this person over here is vegan, and so on and so on.

In this case, social cohesion serves as a decision tree of sorts. As a member of the group, we make quick tradeoffs in support of (or sacrifice to) the larger needs. If you don’t end up having a strong preference for a certain type of food, you may be fine eating whatever is ordered. This is the go-along-to-get-along component of social cohesion. And in many cases, that can be just fine. 

The challenge comes when cohesion begins to dilute personal preference. 

I’ll give you an example of how that happened to me. I was in a long-term relationship where the other person only liked one ingredient on their pizza. That was the only way they would order it. I was fine with that ingredient, but I also liked a lot of other toppings. No problem, they said, order another pizza with whatever I wanted.

That sounded good in theory, but I really didn’t need a whole pizza to myself. So either we would end up getting slices that were different or I would just end up having some of their pizza. It was one of the many small decisions made in a relationship, but later it diluted what was on my own menu. 

A key in healthy relationships is to have clear boundaries and communication. And, in this case, that person had both. What became unhealthy, for me, is when I removed my own wants from the menu because it was easier (or so I thought) in the moment. 

Over time, pizza simply moved lower on my list of preferences. It wasn’t that I stopped liking pizza, it’s that I stopped considering it on my menu because I never really felt like it was my menu. Social scientists call this our ‘psychological immune system,’ which is where we can start to rationalize things in a way to free up brain space and we do this by accepting what is offered versus trying to resist it. 

Pizza is a minor example, but it’s a signal to the more major shift that we can unconsciously make as we navigate the people and the pressure in our lives. 

As you revisit and revise what’s on your mental menu, take some time to look at things that may have fallen off of it in the first place. Or see what ingredients you might want to try again or try for the first time.

As we continue to explore what it is we want, it’s also okay to not want everything that is offered. We can appreciate the thought, the gesture, and the person themselves, but still decide not to keep what is being given. 

This can be true for tangible things certainly but also for words, actions, opportunities, and those free opinions from other people. Just because someone else wants it on the menu, doesn’t mean you have to accept it or order it if it’s there.

And in the case where something is being offered without being ordered, just remember that “no, thank you” is a full sentence. 

Enjoy the exploration of discovering what you want in the here-and-now. Learning how to create our own list will ultimately make us much better at noticing, and respecting, the menu of others. 

The work that we do on ourselves that becomes a gift that keeps on giving,

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.