February 2015 ~ Con Gusto

There are many, many things that I love about Costa Rica. Honestly, the sloth is right up there near the top of the list, but I also love the banana stealing Capuchin monkeys, the blue morpho butterflies, the volcanoes and waterfalls. But my favorite thing about Costa Rica, hands down, is the way they say “thank you.”

Con gusto.

With pleasure.

Or even better, con mucho gusto.

With much pleasure.

For me, however, it didn’t originally translate that way. I originally heard it as, “With much gusto!”

Giving with pleasure, or even better, with much gusto. Giving with a deep, heartfelt hardiness. This was amazing to me. An entire country of people who were giving from this point.

The people of Costa Rica refer to themselves as Ticos. The suffix –tico can mean something small, but in Costa Rica it also denotes affection. Now, think about language for just a moment. Our experiences inform our language, but our language also informs our experiences.

I am well aware that Ticos have their share of problems like the rest of us. This is not a Nirvanic land where no problems exist and all people coexist in peace and love, but it did get me thinking about how I give and how I relate to those around me.

As a wife, a mother, a daughter, sister, friend, therapist, business owner, community member, there are many, many areas in which I give. I am a good boundary setter and generally quite comfortable saying no when I need to, but like all of us, there are many ways I give that I don’t have much choice about.

It’s easy to feel depleted in our busy worlds that pull us in too many directions at once. When we are depleted we don’t give con gusto. We give with resentment and exhaustion.

It is easy to give lovingly and fully when we are feeling whole and at peace. It is easier to give to some people than to others. It’s hard to give fully in relationships that deplete us.

Often we can tap into the signals that remind us that we’re depleted. Maybe we find ourselves grumbling and saying critical things either about the other person or about ourselves. Often we feel it in our bodies; we find ourselves tightening or exhausted or pushed. All of these are signals that can remind us to look at why we are resentful or depleted.

Perhaps we need to pull back, reserving our energies for the things and people that have real meaning for us. Perhaps we need to set boundaries and allow others to be more self-reliant. Perhaps we need to take better care of ourselves physically so that we have the physical energy to give con gusto. Perhaps we need to become aware of the critical ongoing narrative that silently depletes us throughout our day.

Often we need to remember that giving should flow through us, not from us. We are not self-contained packets of energy. We have to have a steady flow of energy coming in and going out, with reserves set aside for ourselves.

Pay attention to your giving this month. How does giving sound in your internal dialog? How does giving feel in your body? If it sounds resentful and feels depleting, ask yourself, “What do I need to feel full, whole and at peace?”

What allows me to give con gusto?


© 2015 Susan Marshall

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