Yesterday as I was driving somewhere, I saw a dude wearing a t-shirt that said, “As I give, I get” and it got me thinking. Earlier the same day I’d had a whole conversation with a friend about the lyric in a Ben Howard song that goes, “I become what I deserve” which has a similar meaning for me and the two together reminded me of a lesson I learnt a few years ago.

In my younger years I was very fond of telling people what to do and so sure of my advice-giving capabilities, I would rarely censor myself when pointing out to another person just where I believed they were going wrong. Sometimes this worked out well for me as friends often turned to me precisely because they knew they could count on my honest opinion and often appreciated my frankness, but the flip side of it was that on more than one occasion I really hurt people’s feelings and my sometimes, brutal honesty would be met with understandable anger and retaliation.

Despite how obvious it seems to me now, when I was younger I also often felt bemused and more than a little hurt by how the people who were close to me spoke to me. I often felt that people didn’t hold back when it came to criticising me or pointing out my flaws and I can only smile now, that I never put two and two together. It is so clear to me now that I was simply getting what I gave out.

These days I know that giving out unsolicited feedback or advice is not cool. Despite the urge to do so sometimes, I rarely offer my opinion unless it’s asked for and more often that not any advice I do give will be centred on either sharing my own experiences of a problem or suggesting to the person that they probably already know the answer themselves and don’t need my take on it to move forward. I’m pleased to say that nowadays my friends and loved ones are much kinder towards me, as what I give out is, in the main, reciprocated.

When feeling mistreated by people, taking a step back to really look at how you’ve been treating them can generally shed some light on the situation and whilst I don’t think this rule always applies (because some people may mistreat you because of stuff that is going on for them) I know that in general for me the theory that as I give I get certainly has rung true more often than not. Because it can be hard to admit to ourselves when we are mistreating others, looking at the ways we ourselves feel mistreated can be a great place to start.