Maybe you’re like me.
I was raised to be a giver; to care, to nurture to love, to be the *nice guy*.
I won’t get into what that did to my understanding of my own masculinity, but I will get into what it did in my understanding of value, support, and giving.
I did what I saw all the nice people do.
- I gave and got walked on.
- I gave and people expected more.
- I gave what people ‘said’ they wanted but clearly didn’t.
- I gave things that actually enabled people’s bad habits.
- I gave things that spoiled people and held them back.
- I gave things that went ‘nowhere’ and were generally a ‘waste.’
- I gave and I expected that giving to be appreciated and reciprocated.
- I’ve never given someone stuff or time or attention just so they’ll keep me around, but I’ve had LOTS of people do it to me.
(They weren’t a waste, because no form of giving… even ‘miss-giving’ is a waste, but miss-giving is certainly not something I recommend.)
That list up there? That is some shitty giving skills, y0.
But, like anyone who experiments, fails, and makes mistakes, it taught me a lot about True Giving.
Here’s another list of things I bet you probably don’t think are ‘giving’
- Withdrawing support – can be giving another a chance to stand on their own.
- Separating and distancing – can be giving another time and space *away from influence*, so they can draw their own conclusions.
- Taking a clear stand – can be giving someone the opportunity to choose their path.
- Taking, and receiving, and having stuff that helps your life – can be giving others ‘a stable person who’s well cared for as a friend.’
- Setting limits and timing on your giving – can be giving someone space to reciprocate and balance the relationship before it becomes 1-sided.
- Being badass and NOT being the ‘nice guy’ is, in many cases the most giving thing.
Ahhh… interesting eh? All the things I thought were ‘mean’ and ‘not nice’, were often the healthiest, most loving, giving things I could do.Being a badass and taking a stand with people close to you is a gift that you give.
There’s something I wish someone taught me earlier.
Society’s confused about giving
But what was I usually taught? "Oh, just give, it’s what makes the world go round."
And that’s true.
No one tells you that it’s tip of the iceberg and there is a lot of important stuff to understand first before you go ‘giving like a crazy person’.
I know what I’m talking about.
I’ve given complete run of my business to more than one person. I’ve given automatic "yes’s" to any request from friends large or small. I’ve given my last dollar, many, many times to people I felt would treasure it.
They usually didn’t.
So yeah, most of society thinks you can just "give to others" and everything will magically become awesome.
And it will, just not the way you think, and not at the pace you think.
Will there be a period where everything goes to hell as you give in confused ways?
Do you want that?
Unskilled giving does help, it just takes you down a path of pain where you learn how to give properly, eventually. I don’t want people to have to go so deep as I did, into unskilled giving before they learn to do it well.
Do you want to go through life not having basic skills in this important task, or do you want to rock it and give with quality results?
If you want quality, it’s important to pay attention and be aware.
Well keep reading, and I’ll share what I’ve learned, so hopefully you can skip the pain.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Giving is only one-side of a relationship.
I’ll say it again: One. Side.
That means, no over-giving, no consta-giving, no spoiling, and no acting like you can’t receive or accept things in return.
Here’s a look at healthy giving.
You take a look at yourself and your life, you understand what you can share comfortably, and you share it.
The other person accepts it as best as they can, hopefully with appreciation.
You don’t expect anything back, that’s part of the giving.
But you DO leave some space, you’re probably not gonna ‘give’ again immediately.
You want to aim for balance.
If the other person doesn’t really reciprocate, after you’ve left some space, you’re welcome to give again, but understand that you’re starting a pattern, where you give, they don’t help balance the relationship in a comfortable time period, and then you’re giving again.
If they choose to leave the relationship one-sided *again*, you may be in for a really rough experience, unless something is cleared up.
Chances are, they haven’t been taught how to give (or receive either, but that’s another post.)
This is important to find out, because if you keep giving to someone, and they just receive it, expect it, keep you on leash or under glass, tapping into you whenever it suits them… there’s a reason NOT to keep that relationship going. There’s a reason to give distance, boundaries, space, and withdrawal.
I learned this the hard way, I took a stand with people who I’d been way over-giving to, and they got really pissed about it.
Their golden goose was gone, and they had to fend for themselves. They had to stop taking, start contributing, and balance the relationship that we’d both heavily unbalanced, in time, attention, money, resources, emotions, etc.
In fact, I did it very recently, giving hours and hours of FREE COACHING, helping people access vision that would’ve taken most people years of suffering to discover, and creating websites, videos and live events for someone who not only brought me very little direct tangible value, besides some kind words — but she also chose to prioritize other things over our projects together. I’d supported her through every hard time in her life, and she soaked up my fantastic empowering value.
It started feeling very one-sided, and it was entirely my fault. I expected loyalty, committment, bold steps. It’s great to give, and trust, but I was doing it without paying attention.
I was giving poorly, and it hurts quite a bit, to wake you up.
So I withdrew my vast resources and value, the best gift I could give.
Some people will be able to roll with this choice, some will understand quickly what has happened. Some will respect your standards for giving.
Others will drift off to find others they can leech off of, until they realize it’s not helping anyone.
Learning to give well, and refusing to do it poorly, can change relationships, big time.
2. Skilled giving aims for people’s REAL wants, not what they ‘say’ they want.
Let’s say a female friend of yours says: "oh I wish I could do X", and you have the resources and time to do X for them, it does not mean you automatically give them X.
Because their words might just be confused.
Their words might be a shallow indicator or some deeper issue or need.
They might really be saying: "I wish I could get attention, or manipulate people into giving me stuff, because I’m learning about my personal power."
If it’s the latter, you probably don’t want to give the tools, instead you might want to give a question like: "WHY do you want X?"
I’m not saying everyone needs to be a psychologist, but I am saying that you may need to dig deeper instead of taking the lazy way out and just "giving" to whoever seems to need it, whenever they hint at it.
I’m saying take a breath, turn-off the instant-give, and use your ability to ask "why" and understand people on a deeper level, instead of just giving shallowly ’cause you thought "that’s a good thing."
3. Give from the heart and help them be a better person.
The trick is simple — it may not be habit, it may take a little conscious effort at first — but always, always ask yourself "am I really helping this person be a better person with as I give?"
If you keep giving someone sex, just to keep them in a relationship with you, are you helping them have a solid, healthy, successful relationship? Are you? Or are you helping them delay the inevitable, and wasting both your time?
If you buy them extravagant things and get them used to a certain lifestyle, when what they really need is some boundaries, discipline, and life-purpose, are you really helping them? Or are you training them to be needy and not stand on their own?
If you give people your time and attention at the drop of a pin, are you helping them value the time of other human beings, or are you helping them feeling entitled and enabled?
Bonus: The People Pleaser
Let’s take one final look at an example of (the unskilled) super-giver.
The super-giver has a fantastic gift, the ability to easily, effortlessly, and pro-long-edly uplift and elevate others through their giving.
(This is like the old me — and I still am a super-giver — but I have a better understanding of what unskilled giving does to relationships and the economy.)
If everytime the unskilled super-giver sees somebody is sad, and they swoop in like a hero and "make them feel better", and it works, what habit are they starting?
They’re starting the habit of Person A feels crappy, and Person B immediately has to shift the direction of their life in order to "heal them" or "bandage their sadness".
They’re starting the habit of Person A putting Person B on a magic pedestal, where their happiness comes from Person B, and they cannot be happy on their own.
So then what happens if Person B takes a trip, goes to the hospital, dies or… <gasp> chooses to do something on their own, with their friends?
That’s right… Person A becomes very, very upset. Person A may even blame Person B for "ruining their life" or "never being there".
This is not a healthy, sustainable relationship. It’s killer because the giver is giving poorly, and because the receiver is happy to take advantage of it, instead of admitting that it’s not-so-great to rely so heavily on someone and use their resources.
Alright, success-superstars, hopefully this clears up much of the ridiculous amount of confusion on the topic of ‘giving’.
- Giving is only one side of things, leave space for the flipside.
- Skilled giving means taking the time to look deeper before we give. Please. Pay attention 🙂
- Give in order to help others be better overall, not just to ‘keep people happy’ or ‘move things along.’
Are these hard and fast rules?
No, it’s different in every case, but it is something I feel many should be taught as early as possible.
Only you know if your giving is right for you, but make sure you use the simple step of asking "Am I really helping by giving this?"
I was raised to be super-ultra generous, but there are ways to do that well, and ways to do it poorly.
Be a f***ing fantastic giver.
P.S. If you have any stories about giving to someone in your life, I’d love to hear them in the comments below – take the chance to share and be heard, I answer everyone 🙂