I am blessed to have some wildly generous people in my world and I consider myself a very generous spirit too. I have always believed that sharing is caring and I have often evaluated people by whether they are predominantly givers or predominantly takers. I do believe it speaks of a person’s character.
Through my giving nature, I have certainly attracted takers in to my life. One of my favourite sayings is “Givers need to know when to stop giving, because takers don’t know when to stop taking”. This is certainly true! Its the ying and the yang of life.
A challenge that givers come across is that often the line is blurry around when do they stop giving. Because this is such firm part of their identity, the realisation they are being used can often come a little late.
The other challenge that I have noticed both in myself and other givers is that when we identify with being a giver, we can struggle to receive.
This is a grave travesty!
About ten years ago, someone who I greatly admire called me on the fact that I was not very good at receiving, whether it be a compliment or an act of service. I didn’t like this very much but because they are a mentor of mine I sat with the feedback I had one of the greatest epiphanies of my life.
I was stealing an opportunity of pleasure off someone else.
Every time I rejected a gift of generosity, kindness, something material or an act of service, I was denying the person who was giving the enjoyment of being the giver.
I was crushing their desire to feel that “giving” feeling, the same feeling that I thrive on and love to experience myself. When I looked at the situation from this new angle, I realised just how selfish I was being.
The conflict that came up in me was huge. I mean how could I be a giver AND be selfish, it just didn’t make sense to me? Humans will do more to remain congruent with their identity than anything else so here I was having an identity crisis.
As I moved forward with this new realisation, I noticed more and more how much pleasure other people got when they gave and the other person received. I really hadn’t seen both sides of this picture so clearly before, I finally had a more holistic view. I watched the dance of giving and receiving like it was a beautiful ballet and more importantly, joined in.
Giving and receiving is equally important.
As I much as I still get more pleasure from giving than receiving, I appreciate the pleasure I allow someone else to experience when I receive from them.
So in my receiving I still get to be a giver, how special is that!