Giving can come in many forms. You may give advice, your time, your expert knowledge, physical gifts or even a smile. But, unless we’re giving just to give, it can become anything but “better”.
THE “I’ll SCRATCH YOUR BACK IF YOU SCRATCH MINE” GIVING
Some of us give to control others. We’ve all done it. We give something in hopes to receive something back. I’ve heard this type of giving called “strategic” in corporate America circles. The problem with this “giving” is that unless you and the receiver are crystal clear about what’s expected from this “give and take”, unclear expectations can arise.
A friend of mine would complain to me about having to go to lunch with his demanding mother all the time and being so available to her. I asked, “Then why are you doing those things? Just tell her no, or don’t answer the phone.” He explained that it was because he had taken out a loan with her and felt obligated. I asked him if lunches and being at her beckon call were part of the loan agreement. A light bulb went off. He stopped rushing to her side, unless he wanted to see her.
THE “LIKE ME DAMN IT!” GIVING
If you’re a “like me damn it!” giver you give in hopes that others will raise your self-esteem and find value in you through your giving. I was a classic “like me” giver. I used to plaster a smile on my face as I picked up the phone at 3am to sooth a “friend” yet again. As she spewed her drama all over me, I consoled and gave but wondered why I kept doing this for her and many others even though they were never there for me. I was afraid to stop giving because I felt that I would lose my friends. I was right; I lost those type of friends when I stopped over giving – thank goodness.
If you’re a “like me damn it!” giver it’s more than likely that you have many friends who take full advantage of this. You’ve attracted takers because giving is a way of feeling valued and liked to you. You, the “like me” giver are a prime target for “I don’t care if you like me” takers. Pulling the plug on “like me” over giving is scary, but when you do, you’ll give when it feels best and thus attract those who will give back to you as well.
THE “I DON’T WANT TO LOOK LIKE AN ASS” GIVING
I’ve seen people give when they feel guilty. This type of giving can be observed when the collection plate is passed at church, when the “A Great Charity” people come to your door and when there are a thousand small paper notes with a good cause and a hand written name plastered all over the gas station wall. Oh and don’t forget the 10 minute commercials with the sad looking puppies on TV. Guilt giving can be found everywhere. If you find yourself grumbling about what you’re about to give, don’t. Just stop it.
Nobody wants your guilt money. Well, that’s not true at all, but the energy of giving should always feel good. If you feel great about the cause that you’re contributing to then go for it! If your face or stomach scrunches up at the thought giving in this particular way, stop. Give another time and in a way that feels best to you.
THE “UM, WHY AREN’T YOU LOVING WHAT I GAVE YOU?” GIVING
I used to be this type of giver when I gave unsolicited advice to friends and co-workers. They would talk about a problem or something that was bothering them and I would spew out the “answers”. When they didn’t take my “golden advice” I would get upset and sometimes even push them about why. It took me a very long time to realize that sometimes giving (even advice) can be detrimental to a friendship. Advice isn’t the only “gift” given with expectation.
When you give something that you’re still attached to, you’ll observe the receiver to make sure she’s enjoying, using, or otherwise relishing the gift that you gave. A friend of mine gave me some furniture when my kids were young. He offered it freely (so I thought) and I accepted with gratefulness. What I didn’t know was how grateful I had to be for years to come to appease this friend. Two years after I was given these “gifts” I didn’t have a use for a two of the pieces and decided to give them to someone who did. My friend was very upset that I was letting them go. He even told me if you get rid of anything else I want them back! I couldn’t look at any of the furniture the same way. I always feared that it would get scratched or worse and what he would say if it came back to him in anything but pristine shape. Exhausting.
THE “GIVING JUST TO GIVE” GIVING
Give and detach. Those three words should always be the way we give. We’ve all have given to receive at some point in our lifetime. Don’t judge yourself or others if you see this. Rather, take the cue and ask yourself each time you’re about to give, “Am I giving something that I can let go of and never think or talk about again?” If not, it’s not time to give. If so, give with sweet abandon and feel good about the act, not the outcome.
Give with Joy and Ease
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