We often hear people described as "givers" or "takers," with the first being considered the better of the two. But I think it has more to do with your ulterior motive as to whether you're truly a giver or not.
What I mean by this is that if you are giving because you feel it is what you're supposed to do and you're trying to meet some expectation of how you think you should be, you're coming from ego. You're performing, trying to win others' approval. You're not really giving at all.
When I first got married to my late husband, Steve, I over-gave a lot to him and our family. I did it because I thought this would make me a good mom. However, I got rundown, overwhelmed, and was often an emotional mess due to giving too much. I thought this was love, but it wasn't for two reasons. One was that I was trying to prove that I was a good mother. If the word prove is in any of your thoughts, subconscious or conscious, you're coming from ego.
The second reason my over-giving wasn't love was due to being an emotional mess. If you're walking around tired from giving too much and are emotional due to exhaustion and not honoring yourself, I promise you, this is NOT love. If you've ever been on the receiving end of someone being frustrated and angry, you know it didn't feel very loving. Well this is what often happens when you give too much.
I used to jump on every opportunity to be a giver in my kids' lives, especially with school. I believed this is what a good mom must do. However, when I got in touch with my truth, I realized that I was over-involved because I wanted to look like a good parent. My motives were all about my ego. So, I made a decision to only do the jobs at school that rang true for me. I became a much happier mom as a result, and a much more productive parent at school.
Another way I performed as a giver was with charity. I love giving to charities that I am inspired by. However, I used to give to every organization that rang my doorbell or called me, even during those times when I felt short on money. Then one day a kid came to my door and wanted me to buy a magazine for an organization I had never heard of. I almost said yes, and then I checked in with myself. I knew that if I donated, I was only doing it because I wanted to look good. It was not in my heart. It was a HUGE deal for me when I gracefully said no. I felt so free because I didn't buy into my normal "good girl guilt."
Now, here's the cool thing that happens when you give yourself permission to quit giving from ego. You want to give more!
I know this sounds crazy, but when you give yourself permission to stop trying to be good by giving, you take back the authority of your life. You quit doing things for approval and begin listening to your heart. And as you make this heart connection, you feel guided to give in ways that you might never have imagined. That's because you're coming from inspired action instead of your ego. And inspired action is where you become a true giver.
I invite you to think about your life. Are you giving because at your core you seek others' approval? Or are you giving from inspired action? You're going to have to look deep within to see your truth. And you're going to have to be really honest with yourself to get a clear answer.
Here are a few clues to help you recognize if you're giving from inspired action or if you're acting out of ego. The first is easy. If you're actions are inspired, you will feel joyful. However, if your feelings are less than desirable, here are some keys to get to the core of the problem:
- Feel your feelings. Are you tired, angry, frustrated, etc.?
- Instead of blaming someone else for your emotional angst, allow your feelings to take you within and ask yourself, "Why am I running myself into the ground? Why am I giving so much?"
- Go deeper and ask yourself, "Am I trying to prove that I am good, worthy, or enough?"
- Ask, "Who am I trying to prove myself to?" You might be surprised that it's someone from the past, like your mom or dad.
- Once you get to the core of why you over-give, take back the authority of your life like I did and stop trying to prove yourself by giving too much. And, whatever you do, let go of your guilt for not being an over-giver.
The greatest gift you can give to the world is to be joyful, kind, compassionate and loving. When you stop over-giving and listen to your heart, your life becomes an expression of these things. Being an expression of love IS your greatest act of service. THIS is truly giving.