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Give Up Giving and Start Being Generous
By Louise Morganti Kaelin

Most of us grow up strongly influenced by the concept that 'It is better to give than to receive'. For many of us, it becomes more than a nice sentiment, but a way of being. We take it to heart so much that we interpret it literally, and that's where we often get ourselves into trouble!

That's often the problem with maxims. They're effective because they're short and to the point. However, it's assumed that the entire context and meaning is understood.

For example, 'It's better to give than to receive' assumes that we understand that the balance of life, the joy of it, is in giving AND receiving. Many people need reminding that there is joy in both, but that the greater joy is in giving. It could be considered a mini-sermon to those that believe 'Take care of yourself' means life is about them, that the universe and everything in it was created to satisfy their every whim. To me, 'Take care of yourself' means making sure that your needs are given the same importance as everyone else's.

Even when we initially understand the original intent of a message, years of constant repetition tends to make us forget. Using our own experience and predisposition to guide us, we start creating our own context. For example, 'It's better to give than to receive' could start meaning we should only give and never receive. This creates a whole series of life problems. I suspect that many people who interpret giving in this way find it difficult to succeed in business because they have trouble charging the correct price and end up giving product or service away. These are usually the same people who would never consider taking anything from someone else without paying full price.

Individuals who take this to the extreme also believe 'Giving, goood. Receiving, baaaad.' This now adds an element of judgment, not necessarily of other people's receiving (they do need someone to give to), but certainly of themselves. With a belief like that, taking or receiving of any kind, even their 'fair share', creates an uncomfortable state of being. Receiving for them means they are 'out of integrity' where 'being in integrity' means your actions match your words match your beliefs. They are usually the first ones to offer aid, time, money, even their seat on a bus. It's just more comfortable to unload whatever they have received at the earliest opportunity and it is almost painful for them if they have something and someone around them is going without.

There are even deeper issues around giving-ness for many people. Although 'chronic' givers usually say they don't want anything in return, the truth is they are deeply hurt when nothing is offered. They begin to feel used and abused. Resentments begin to pile up until one day there is a massive explosion. Of course, the guilt one feels after such an explosion often results in giving even more in an attempt to make up for the outburst. And it's not just guilt for the explosion itself, but for the very fact that they wanted something in the first place. Very often, there are major issues around self-esteem and deservingness involved here.

As individuals gain the awareness that life is also about receiving, they usually begin the process of healing. An issue that often surfaces at this point deals with their self-identity. Giving is so much a part of their nature that, when they first open themselves to the prospect of receiving, they feel that they have to make a choice. It appears that the only way to change their behavior is to stop doing what they are doing, to stop giving. But they like helping others, they prefer their loving and giving nature, it's who they ARE.

The solution, of course, is that they don't have to stop being who they are, they don't have to stop giving. They just have to allow themselves to start receiving!

One way to help make this shift is to stop thinking of yourself as a giver and to start thinking of yourself as being generous. These may appear the same at first, but there are some considerable differences between the two.

First, instead of saying 'I am a giver' we say 'I am generous'. Being a giver (like any role we have in life) implies certain responsibilities and rules. It tends to restrict us in how we think about ourselves and often forces us to give way past the point where it is healthy. Being generous implies that we are a person who is able to share what we have. That there is plenty for me and you can have some too.

Giving can imply that there isn't enough to go around. Being generous comes from a place of abundance. You've all heard (and can relate to, I'm sure) the expression 'Give til it hurts.' To immediately feel the difference between the two concepts, try saying 'Be generous til it hurts.' I'm sure you have the same reaction that I do. It doesn't quite compute. It's an oxymoron and my face scrunches up as I try to put these words together. [Ok, it's not attractive, but it's how I know that my brain is working hard!]

Giving feels good, but being generous feels joyful. Giving often feels like a 'should', while generosity is a gift from the heart. Giving is a 'doing' while generosity is a 'being'. Giving is an action and generosity a trait. Giving seems to imply scarcity while generosity implies reserves. Giving is often about you while generosity shifts the focus to the receiver. Giving can often have strings, but generosity feels unconditional. Giving is one way, while generosity encompasses receiving as well. I'm sure you will come up with many more distinctions as you start thinking about this and applying it to your own life.

I have been 'trying on' this concept for a few weeks now. I can only say that I feel a lightness that I haven't felt for a long time. As I write this, I am realizing that before this shift, giving felt like a compulsion. But being generous of spirit is a choice that I make freely, a gift from my heart that leaves me feeling whole.

See Also: Avoid a Life of Regrets With Your Yes List
Too many times we say yes to others when we should say no. At the same time we continue to tell ourselves no when we need to say yes.

(c) Louise Morganti Kaelin. 

Louise is a Life Success Coach who partners with individuals who are READY (to live their best life), WILLING (to explore all options) and ABLE (to accept total support). Find many free resources to assist you in living the life of your dreams at http://www.touchpointcoaching.com

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