Are you a giver or a taker?
If you’ve answered ‘taker’ then this is probably not for you.
If you consider yourself a giver, what inspires this?
The idea that giving is its own reward? A belief that this is what ‘good’ people do? Is it your religious beliefs? Or, are you a people-pleaser?
Regardless of the inspiration for giving, setting personal boundaries is essential for a happy life.
The big difference between givers and takers is that the former do not keep a tally of their gifts in order to receive. Their reward is how giving makes them feel about themselves.
Takers can still be generous with their money, time, labour or expertise, but they will keep score. At some point, they will demand, or at least expect, a return on those gifts.
Often it’s a one-way tally, with no record being kept for what others have done for them.
Takers will happily accept favours and are often not shy to ask for them. Sometimes the request comes with a vague promise of future reciprocation.
Often, the takers have convinced themselves they are doing the givers a favour by accepting their help – obviously giving is what makes the givers happy.
The beauty of being a taker is that you will draw the line before people have the chance to take advantage of you.
Givers don’t feel the need to keep account of their generosity because they share a belief support will be there for them when they need it.
We’ve all heard the promises.
You give before you get.
For it is in giving that we receive.
Francis of Assisi
Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.
Givers understand the return for their gifts often comes in the form of spiritual and emotional enhancement.
While that is a noble achievement, the fact remains we are all still bound by human forces.
The spiritual and emotional gains do little to help you lift those heavy boxes when you are moving house and need a hand.
Or help you pay for a meal if you are broke.
They won’t help you spread the word about a fledgling business or provide a shoulder to cry on.
This is when reciprocation is needed and while givers do not keep score, they can be deeply shocked and dismayed when support is not forthcoming.
It is the moment they will be forced to re-examine the time and energy they have expended in giving to others. A time to take stock.
This time came recently for a young friend who was feeling very let down by those close to her.
She is a giver by nature and has spent much time and energy and even money helping her friends and family when asked. Often she volunteers to help when she sees a need.
As a born and bred people pleaser myself, I could identify with her disillusionment.
I was never much good at setting personal boundaries when it came to giving.
People pleasers are possibly the most vulnerable of all givers because their sense of self-worth comes from their ability to make others happy.
It makes it difficult to say ‘no’ and mandatory to provide help and support whenever they see the need.
They can’t keep score, even if they wanted to because giving is a continual state for them.
They rarely ask for help, more comfortable in their role as helpers.
However, there will be times of need when they may boldly make a request and a lack of support can be demoralising.
There have been many occasions I have felt the sting when friends who I had nothing but time for, had no time for me when I needed them.
The years have taught me a few secrets when it comes to giving.
HOW TO SET BOUNDARIES AND IMPROVE LIFE
I still believe that giving, in all its forms, is its own reward. You cannot help but feel good about yourself when you’ve shown support, kindness, and love for someone else.
SELECT GIVING TARGETS
There is no need to give up on giving. The trick is to spread that time, energy and money in the right direction.
There will always be those who take advantage and it’s important to spot them quickly. This is not always easy as they may be gushing gratitude, but they could be empty words. These people will be quick to ask for more help.
If you keep giving to these people you run the risk of being sucked dry.
Those who are sincere about their gratitude will find a way, through action and not just words, to let you know this. They are a good target for your urge to give as they will not allow you to feel adrift at sea when you need help.
Strangers make wonderful giving targets, especially if the gift is wrapped in a random act of kindness. This is the kind of giving that truly delights the soul and leaves no room for feelings of hurt and rejection.
PRACTISE SAYING NO – WITHOUT EXCUSES
I am still not quite comfortable with the feel of my lips, the tilt of my tongue and the air in my mouth when I utter this word. But it is getting easier.
I am improving at anticipating requests and deciding ahead of time how I will deal with them.
When an unexpected request comes along I often use a delay tactic such as the need to check my schedule.
I have been known to spend that extra time practicing saying no.
REMEMBER THAT GIVING TO YOURSELF IS STILL GIVING
Givers often feel guilty about giving to themselves. As a result, they don’t give themselves enough time to complete tasks or relax as they take on more and more commitments.
They often do not give themselves enough credit for their achievements.
They do not give themselves the self-love and self-care required to continue as givers.
Make it a daily habit to give to yourself first and it will become easier to set boundaries and improve your life.
Wishing you a gleeful and giving week, Tamuria.