My mother will be shaking her head when she reads this, but my Christmas tree is still up. When I think about taking it down, I quickly find something else to distract me. I’ve even toyed with the idea of hauling the fully decorated tree outside to the curb. The season of “giving” has tired me out.
Tired perfectly describes Claire, a coaching client of mine who was drained from pouring her all into a relationship that was giving little to nothing in return. She was genuinely puzzled as to why she had not reaped the emotional, spiritual and financial generosity she’d sown. I empathized with her distress, because I’d been there. Growing up, I was taught the value of giving to others. So as an adult, I felt obligated to give at all costs. I lived on the verge of depletion until my mentors and coaches showed me how to give with a healthy heart. Giving wasn’t the problem—it was my ignorance that often landed me in trouble. I was a “mis-giver.”
They not only helped me realize that we do reap what we sow, however, we sow more than actions. Our reaping will be directly related to our intents and motivations. If you can identify with being a “mis-giver,” here’s a checklist I’ve developed to help you evaluate your drivers:
1. Emotional Hoarder: In our personal relationships, giving should be motivated by a healthy desire to bless and empower others. And yet, sometimes it is tainted by subconscious, emotional agendas. We can be motivated by insecurity and the desire to keep others attached to us. The hoarder gives to get or keep love—not because they understand the joys of being a giver. Hoarders are afraid to draw boundaries and say no, because they fear losing the relationship. They sow in fear and reap distress.
2. Remote Controller: A friend of mine burdened himself with financially providing for his mother to keep her from seeking support from a boyfriend that he disliked. He didn’t want her to make choices he didn’t approve, so he attempted to influence her actions by eliminating her options. Remote controllers give to manipulate and gain control. They end up stressed and disappointed because it is impossible to determine another adult’s actions. Sowing for control makes you an emotional slave to other’s choices.
3. Enabler: I briefly talked to a guy who boasted to me that he wanted to marry a woman that he could lavish with everything she wanted, all the while asking nothing in return. I asked him the reason for this desire and his response was “poetic nonsense.” When he finished his spiel, I told him that if he found a woman who was willing to take, but never wanted to give back—he should run! On the surface, his desire appeared unselfish but at its core it was irresponsible. Individuals never give back to you for one of two reasons. You have either castrated their need to grow and share by failing to set expectations they can aspire to or they have objectified you and made you a means to their ends. Like a hammer or a screwdriver, you are simply something they can use to achieve their goals. Sowing without expectation deteriorates your soul.
Live It! If you’re an unhappy giver, evaluate the source of your discontentment. Identify the unhealthy patterns in your giving and address them. Hoarders need to draw boundaries. Remote controllers need to respect others’ autonomy and enablers must learn how to receive.
Recently named the “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” by eWomenNetwork, Felicia T. Scott is a Certified Empowerment Coach™ who shares transformational truths that change lives. Follow her on Twitter for updates regarding her newly released seminar THRIVE! 7 Strategies for Extraordinary Living and more.