The nature of being giving is a delicate, and in some ways, misunderstood concept. I get asked questions about this on a regular base whether from my students or people in my seminars. Being giving may be rooted in a kind heart, but having the ability to keep this quality comes with a rational mind. A rational mind that makes the person adept as to when to give, what to give, and to whom to give; without damaging the self and others in the long run. Many times when a person gives without boundaries or an awareness of the motives; they usually feel drained or even worse, they feel a sense of resentment, anger and frustration at the end.
The purpose is to make sure one experiences joy and bliss by the act of giving so that she is encouraged to do more of it. To do this, there has to be an awareness to be able to give from a place where there is a balance between a kind heart and a rational mind. This place feels right and does not bring about any feelings of negativity. It is also authentic and feels real to the receiver. When the giver experiences negative feelings after giving, these may be signal that something is not working in harmony and is out of order.
To be a stable giver, it is important to have boundaries, emotional honesty and emotional responsibility. We have to look at the process of life more realistically in terms of what we need to accept and what we can change. For example, if you're giving too much where at the end you feel like you were taken advantage of, this can create negative feelings like anger and sadness. Or if you're giving to a self-centered person whatever she desires, you may be making her condition worse just like when you give an alcohol to an alcoholic. Another example is when you give to someone up to a point of them losing their motivation to learn to be appreciative of working for their goals. Or, when you spoil your child whereas she loses her ability to be thank full and empathic, in other words when you give her so much that you make her blemished. Or, when you make a reliant person more dependent by your act of giving.
It is important to ask these questions when you're giving: Am I giving from a strong place of peace, awareness, just, and love with boundaries or a place of neediness and weakness where I have no boundaries? The fist is probably your heart, the second may be your wounded inner child needing attention. Am I giving to be a people-pleaser or am I giving because it is my heart's desire? Looking back in my life, has the act of giving created a lot of positive emotions, healthy relationships, and good life experiences for me or has it been counterproductive? The nature of your giving becomes clearer to you by self reflecting on these simple questions and then you can adjust accordingly. You can also modify your giving nature by aiming it at places where they are always needed like doing volunteer activities.
But when it comes to having boundaries, it may be easier with strangers than family or romantic partners. The reason for this maybe that our wounded inner-child is more powerful with people whom we feel more comfortable with. But boundaries help us speak our truth and be more aware. The main purpose of having boundaries is to protect oneself and take care of one's inner self. In addition, we have to become more educated about what an acceptable interaction is and the dynamics of a healthy functioning relationship. We also need to learn to become more emotionally honest with ourselves and to communicate without blaming.
Some people are naturally more of a giver; you may categorize them as the ones with a bigger heart, higher energies or a sensitive soul. It does not matter how you name or label these individuals but the reality remains the same. If you are a natural giver, you have to make sure the experiences create positive results for your internal equilibrium in order for you to be able to sustain this trait. At the end, pay attention to your feelings and motives and self reflect on these when you're giving or receiving, don't have a fear of communicating your needs, be aware what signals you give off and what type of people you attract, and do behavioral and cognitive modification if needed.
Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD
Self Knowledge Base & Foundation
A non-profit dedicated to public education