Healing, Step Six: Invest

“We need to put all our money where our values are.”(From “Seven Steps to Healing” byEdgar Villanueva in Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides, second edition, copyright 2021, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, Oakland, CA) How Much Can You Invest? Bearing in mind that Villanueva’s original steps of healing were geared toward economics, let’s pan out and consider how we invest in relationships.

In Decolonizing Wealth, Edgar Villanueva talks aboutthe Potlach Fund. It’s a collaborative of Native Communities that combine tangible resources and shared wisdom in an environment of mutual support that enhances the well being of all of the communities involved. The whole organization is designed around giving.They adhere to the common understanding of Northwest Native peoples that define “wealth” as having enough to give generously to others.

We can do this in relationships too!

“I love you more” My husband and I have been running a contest for about 10 and a half years now. We regularly compete to see who can show the other more love. He will say he’s winning. I, of course, believe I am. We will always both be right, because whoever is giving more is winning, and whoever is receiving more is also winning.

Best competition ever!

Emotional Generosity This is something I call “emotional generosity.” When our relationships are dampened by hurtful patterns, resentments, unresolved conflicts, selfishness, pride, shame or even external stress, emotional generosity can be hard to come by. However, if we have done the hard work ofthe preceding five steps, we can approach each other with compassion, empathy, care, and understanding. This is emotional generosity.

It’s what Anne Lamott writes about in the following quote: If we aren’t giving and receiving every day we become a stagnant pool of clutch and pinch and grab which is hell; A generous spirit is heaven.

If we’ve done the first five steps, grieved what was wrong, rehumanized each other, stepped into each other’s world with empathy, given ourselves with transparency and created a relationship that honors each person, there is nothing to be lost by working hard at outgiving one another.

Not One Upmanship Mind you, this is not a “competition” in the common sense. We in the US tend toward an unhealthy orientation toward giving. I’m not talking about giving to the point of resentment, giving out of obligation or even the weird sort of competitive giving that some families do during the holidays with each person trying to look more impressive than the other. This is thoughtful giving based on a sense of what the other person would appreciate, and that we can give freely with no expectation of reciprocity attached. Free will offerings only.

If we value the other person and value the relationship, we will give generously of our time, our energy, our resources.

What We Say/ What We Do All of us human folk have a gap between who we think we are and who we really are. These truths are revealed by what we do. We each have a gap between what we say, (which is what we want to be true about us,) and what we do, (which reveals what is actually true about us.) We would do well to mind our gaps and work hard at making them as small as possible.

It’s easy to say

that someone is important to us. If we don’t make time for them in our schedules, are they truly important to us? It’s easy to tell someone they can talk with us about anything. When they tell us challenging things about us, do we get defensive and push them away? Our behavior reveals the more candid truth about our investment in the other person and in our relationship with them.

Turning Toward As the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is.” When we find that our behavior isn’t lining up with what we have said is true about the relationship, we owe it to ourselves and the other person to take a fierce self-inventory.

Are the amount of time we spend, the amount of thought we give, and the way we prioritize the relationship’s needs lining up with what we say is true? If not, we have two healthy choices: Declare the exposed limits of the relationship in our lives, or shift our behavior so that our actions place the relationship in higher priority.

Truth heals, even when it cuts us on the way out. Don’t be so afraid of being cut that you let unhealthy things fester unspoken.

Conscientiously investing in our relationships yields much better results for everyone concerned.

Up Next!
The 7th and final step in healing relationships is: (Re) (pair.) Stay tuned as we cull all the wisdom gained through the first six steps and make concrete plans for “re”-“pairing” with someone is a new and healthier way.


If you’d like help with any of the steps or with other relationship challenges, contact Tiffany today. Let’s make a plan.