Do you think of yourself as generous? Or, has anyone ever called you an over giver? They aren’t quite the same and one has the power to ruin relationships. Here’s what I learned about myself in 2020.
It’s been awhile since I’ve called myself out on something in a post.
But I think there’s too many highlight reels on social media and occasionally, I just like to keep it real on here so no one ever thinks my life is perfect.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a temper. It’s short-lived and as I get older it runs me less and less, but it’s still a quality I’m embarrassed about. And one that I work very hard to control.
A few years ago, I wrote a post about losing my temper while travelling in Italy.
When I linked back to that post a while later, a long-time reader wrote me a lengthy note explaining that I should ‘get help’ and even though she’d followed me since the beginning of this blog, she was now unfollowing me.
So even though I do have a thick skin after 12 years of writing this blog, I took the post down because that email really bothered me.
Recently, I have also realized something else about my personality that I’ve been pondering.
I had a little incident with a member of my family, whereupon we didn’t speak for two weeks.
Then I received a text from her and this is basically what it said:
“From now on, I don’t want you to buy anything for me, and when we go out for dinner, you’ll pay for your meal and I’ll pay for mine. I think our relationship is inauthentic and based on you giving to me and me giving to you.”
My whole life I’ve been a generous person. The second I decide I no longer need something in my house or in my closet, I start wondering who could benefit from having it next. I overpay most trades who arrive at my house (unless of course I feel I’ve been overcharged), overtip in restaurants, and many times, when I show up at a friends home with lamps or accessories they need, it’s a gift.
Is it possible to be too generous?
Terreeia has been known to ask, more than once, “Do we still have [________]? Or did you give it away already?”
So when I received that text, it took me a few days to digest.
Then, I started searching, “My friend is too generous, how do I handle that?” Because I started wondering, “Is that a thing?”
Is it possible to be too generous?
That’s when I came across this article, a very enlightening piece written by the author of Eat, Pray, Love.
Here’s the opening statement:
“All my life I’ve been an over-giver. My general operating policy has always been, “If it belongs to me, don’t worry: You can have it!”
When I read that, I instantly thought, “That’s SO me.”
It’s interesting. I have searched that term a few times since discovering the article and found many other long-winded stories written about the tendency of moms to over give, or people who say YES when they really they mean NO. I don’t fall into that camp. First, I’m not a mom, and second, I generally don’t over-give my time.
In other words, I wouldn’t be the first to describe myself as a “pleaser.”
Maybe that’s why it’s taken so long for me to see that I was an over-giver when it came to advice, money and stuff.
When it comes to what I know and what I’ve learned, I am quick to share and help if I can. This blog is an obvious testament to that trait. And I will admit to being secretly disappointed when people are not the same with me.
I was also interested to learn that it’s human nature to feel compelled to repay or reciprocate when given a gift, whether it has come in the form of a material object, a kind deed, or an act of generosity. Giving can also leave someone feeling resentful of the generosity because they didn’t ask for it to begin with. And then suddenly they are left feeling compelled to reciprocate even if they don’t want to.
More than once I have certainly been told, “You’re enabling that person,” but I brushed it off. My rationale was, “If I have enough to give and this person needs it, it seems wrong and stingy not to share.”
I also loved this quote:
“Never give anyone more than they are emotionally capable of receiving, or they will have no choice but to hate you for it.”
This perfectly explains two other estranged family members. One, who I haven’t spoken to, in more than five years. Over the years it’s crossed my mind – more than once – how much generosity she has missed out on, because we are not speaking. But, now I understand. She isn’t interested, nor does she want to be on the receiving end, of my misplaced over-giving.
How do you know if you are an over giver?
There’s a difference between being generous and over-giving and this article says it well:
“Real giving is done from a place of true generosity and because we have an excess of something to offer (time, support, energy). It tends to be an impulse we don’t have to overthink. And the giving leaves us feeling good and energised.
Over-giving tends to come not from generosity, but from hidden need. It is an energetic transaction where we expect a return, even if that is just praise, appreciation, or to stop feeling guilty. And when we give too much, we feel depleted, not energised. We might even feel annoyed at ourselves or with the other person.
So, when we over give, we are generally giving because we are:
- hoping for a return on what we give
- wanting to be appreciated or loved
- needing to feel good about ourselves
- wanting to be seen as the stronger/smarter/wiser/person
- think nobody else is capable so we ‘have’ to do something
- believe if we do something it will ease a feeling of “guilt”
When I read this article to find out if I’m giving too much, I really resonated with this one:
You avoid or are uncomfortable at the thought of asking for something.
And, if someone DOES give me something that I feel is bigger than it should be, I go OUT OF MY WAY to make sure I reciprocate.
I am MUCH more comfortable being the giver vs. the receiver because I just walk around assuming that people don’t like me unless I’m contributing to their world in some way. My mantra is definitely “I’ll never be the one taking advantage of any situation”.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how common advice is, “Everyone is insecure.” But I’ve never really thought about what makes that so true.
It’s that no one can possibly know everything about everything, so if you’re someone who is committed to learning and growing, you’re probably going to feel insecure about some area of your life that you haven’t mastered yet.
And that’s why I am talking about this here. Because YOU are also really generous with me and I always learn from your comments and advice, just as much as you learn from mine!
And back to the generosity conversation. . . don’t get me wrong, I still love to be generous! And most of the time, I am filled with joy when I can give. But now that I know that you can give until it hurts, I ask myself what my motives are before I give.
PIN THIS FOR LATER
Over to you my lovelies. Who relates to this? How do you handle being generous or being at the receiving end of too much generosity?
I would love to hear your comments!
PS. The ONLY person in this world I don’t think you can give enough to is your Mom or Dad. Anything I can do to make my Mom’s life better or more comfortable, I can’t wait to do it.