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Lessons from an Over Giver

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.

Maria Killam Yellow Sofa

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”.

Sad right?

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.


Lessons from an over giver

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.

Related posts:

6 Things About Me

3 Things I Learned About Design While Decorating for my Mother

10 Things I’ve Learned (so far) from my Designer



  • Di says:

    This is a beautiful, thought provoking post. I can relate to much of it although truthfully,, I would have probably denied it previously, I have always related to being on the other side! It’s uncomfortable to receive things from others or even ask for something I really want. The crux of the matter does seem to be motivation. Thanks for a good “read” that will help some of us grow!

    • Joan says:

      I am not an overgiver, but I do relate. If given something I immediately want to reciprocate in kind. Otherwise I feel guilty or feel that the giver will think unkindly of me if I don’t respond with something of equal value or quantity. I know though that is not usually the case –the reality is giving makes one feel good and the receiver should just be capable of graciously acknowledging the gift without worrying about it being a trade. I know it could cause one to be very uncomfortable if given too much.

      • Dunja says:

        This is so spot on! Perhaps the only “true” giving is done anonimously – when you know you will never receive any kind of credit or recognition for it. But then there is a lot of joy in exchanging gifts too, especially when people have put time and thought into something they got you and vice versa. This did really get me thinking about the balance though… Thank you, Maria, for inspiring these thoughts before we all fall into the Christmas frenzy!

  • Melissa says:

    !!!! I feel a revelation coming on myself! I recently had a teenage niece start backing away from me. Through a third party I heard she said, “Why is she always giving me makeup and things?”….My thought was HOW is that offensive? I had not stopped to realize she feels compelled to give back, or to love me more, or anything else uncomfortable!
    Thank you for sharing such a sensitive subject.

    • Christine McTague says:

      Thank you for your honesty and transparency. I never thought of this perspective of giving. It puts a whole new shine on things.

      • Cindy says:

        I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your candor in writing and sharing this post. I never thought of myself as an over giver but now I am rethinking that.
        I have always had a problem accepting gifts, compliments, and help. I have recently tried to be more gracious in accepting what others have offered so lovingly from their heart. I hope to be able to begin questioning myself as to why I am offering gifts. Thank you for such an honest and thought provoking post. You have given me quite a bit to work on.

    • JoDi says:

      She might also feel that gifts like makeup are a criticism of her appearance or taste. Another reason could be that the gifts don’t fit her style, and she might feel compelled to use them so she doesn’t offend you. I know an older woman who makes jewelry, and she feels compelled to give me things she has made that she feels suit me, but they don’t. I feel obligated to wear them occasionally when I see her, but I don’t wear them any other time. This article shared some interesting thoughts, but there are a lot of reasons why people don’t appreciate certain gifts. This article really only considered one perspective.

  • Susan says:

    Wow! This one really relates to me. For years I have given gifts to each of my neighbors at Christmas just because I wanted to show my appreciation with their being Good neighbors.I just sent out Christmas Cards saying In lieu of Christmas Gifts we would be giving to the local food bank. I think we are accountable for what we have and this year there are so many that need help I felt I needed to give more to the food bank. I do love to give and yes it is hard to receive,but I do my best to receive with a grateful heart. May you have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year!

  • Brenda Pawloski says:

    Oh Maria, what an eloquent summation of something I have sensed but not put in words. It’s not comfortable being on the receiving end of over giving. People have even over gifted my children and then weighed on me when the acknowledgement/thank you note did not come quickly enough. I ended up wishing they hadn’t bothered. But this post, and your others that teach, me are like a little gift to me that I accept with gratitude. Beautiful holidays to you!

  • Helen K says:

    Maria, we have had this conversation many times with a person who was forced to accept many things from others out of necessity. (He had Stage 4 cancer) We all had a religious upbringing and we discussed the “it is better to give than to receive”. We saw it from a different perspective at this particular time in his life. It is far better to be able to give than to be in the position of receiving out of necessity. There is a power component in all of this as well. The giver is powerful in order to be able to give and the one who receives has less power. Perhaps that is a bone of contention in some relationships. I’m generous as well, but I try to find out if they really want what I am giving. Wishing you and Terreeia a very Happy Holiday. Such as it is. 😉

  • Sharon says:

    Wow-this stopped me in my tracks. Pretty sure I’ll be thinking hard on this for quite a while Maria. First thoughts…how honest and GENEROUS of you to share your soul searching. This might take your blog in a whole new direction. I suspect I’m not the only reader who will want more of this. Thank you!!! And Merry Christmas to you and Terreria! xo

  • khanretty says:

    Thank you for writing this very well-written post. I’m dealing with elderly parents right now. My dad’s health is failing and my mom is having difficulty dealing with the situation. I like fixing things and am very generous with them. But I’m starting to realize that my mom resents the help and things I give her. Your post made me realize I’m giving her more than she’s emotionally capable of receiving. Plus, I feel depleted and am starting to resent her. I don’t the solution to all of it, but your post has helped me take a look at my actions and motivations. Thank you.

    • Shana says:

      I was literally just discussing this very topic last night. Somehow I have just recently become an overgiver. It’s challenging to make friendships at this stage of midlife, and I’ve found that I likely overgive as a subconscious way of saying “please like me.” The kicker is that I then feel a bit resentful if my givings aren’t appreciated. I need to cut it out and free up that emotional space for myself! Thanks for opening this dialogue and for your lovely transparency.

    • Victoria Kelly Hodgman says:

      I love thinking about where I fit into this topic. Last evening we took little treat boxes to neighbors, and the response was fascinating. Some were grateful and kind about it, some made us wait at their door until they could rustle up something to give back, some didn’t answer their door because UPS comes every hour and they don’t want to be bothered. It shouldn’t stop us from being generous, but we also need to check how we receive.
      I will read some of these articles you talked about! Great post. Thank you for giving.

  • Temima says:

    I love your blog because you do keep it real. Thank you for your courage in writing this, Maria.
    I do my best to know that when I give, I give expecting nothing in return, tangible or intangible. (It actually gives me so much joy to give that way that then I wonder if we humans can truly give without the benefit of the return.)
    Having said that, it’s taken me a long time to learn to give with zero expectation. The more we live consciously, the less our giving involves our ego because our ego is gratified by our conscious living.
    The way you describe giving to your mom sounds like it is gratitude inspired. That’s beautiful.

  • Alicia says:

    Oh, this was so good for me to read! This is me “spot on”. And I do have an estranged relationship with my sister, but she is a “taker” while I am an “over giver”. I was exhausted with constantly trying to meet her expectations and then fail every time. My husband was frustrated for me and said she never treated me with respect but demanded things in return. Our relationship fell apart once she demanded too much without regard to my feelings or safety and I stood my ground. She hasn’t talked to me since, but I feel freedom in the release. I miss her, and I am open to a relationship with her. But, one of my favorite authors Lysa Terkeurst has written the following quotes that stay with me: “Just because someone lays down an offense today doesn’t mean that we have to pick it up and carry it with us.” And also “Forgiveness releases our need for retaliation, not our need for boundaries.” Basically, I don’t have to continue to pick up her offensiveness to me and carry it around, nor do I need to loosen my boundaries if she continues to do so.

  • Jo M says:

    Get out of my head! I was reflecting on the topic of giving just this morning over coffee and my daily reflection. I believe that many of us struggle with managing that balance between generosity and over-giving to meet an internal need like feeling loved, wanting to control, etc. I think that is why it’s important to look for those opportunities where we can give without any potential for recognition- like a secret santa without a big reveal! I find that when I give without the possibility of receiving anything back it helps me to right-size my ego. And, I think that it is really magical to receive gifts this way as well.

  • Christian P. says:

    Your candor and self-awareness are refreshing. Di’s thoughts below about motivation resonate, too. A former co-worker once told me to always check my intention before acting. “Keep asking ‘Why?’ until you get to the root intention,” he said. It is a powerful exercise and takes discipline to follow consistently. Often the results are shocking and speak to the over-giving reasons you cited above.

    • Barb says:

      Your comments caught me by surprise today. I have been thinking about my relationship with my older brother (7 years older) who is my only sibling. He has always been the smart one in the family. We are both in retirement, but I am better off financially than he is. He is very concerned about money since he has a 30+son who lives with him. The son has health issues. His wife is deceased. While he has never asked for money and I have never offered it, I have been learning that I can do too much for him. While I enjoy giving, he feels obligated to reciprocate. And I am learning that it is just too stressful for him. I’m trying to be more low key with him. My approach has shifted to offering him home cooked food which I have cooked in an amount that is just too large for my husband and me. Now he feels like he is helping me continue my enjoyment of cooking by taking some food that I don’t have to eat for the next two weeks. It may sound like an odd situation, but I respect him and want him to be comfortable in our relationship. Sometimes you have to work hard for both parties to have their needs met. Thanks for bringing up a topic that is seldom discussed and sharing you life with us.

      • Maria Killam says:

        I love this Barb, that’s so lovely that you have been able to be sensitive enough to strike a balance and still be able to help! Maria

  • Robin Reid says:

    This really hit home.
    I recently had an experience where someone I have shared so much with gave some beautiful things away on social media and I felt hurt that she didn’t think of me first. I have been mulling over the whole issue of why I share and how I feel when people don’t share with me. Your post is leading me to deeper answers.
    Thank you!

  • Tru says:

    Maria thank you so much for sharing a private, authentic part of yourself with your readers. It’s easy to share the ‘pretty’ parts of our lives and your honesty about a maybe not-so-pretty part just makes me appreciate what you bring to us, via your blog, even more. I totally relate to being an over giver and your perspective on how this can make people uncomfortable is something I certainly need to be reminded of. You might be interested to read The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman a book that helped me understand this trait, and how we communicate love to others, better. Thank you again for your gift of sharing yourself with us and best wishes to you and Terreeia for a lovely holiday season.

  • Meg says:

    Hmm. I think there is a type of giver that needs to be avoided… the one who, once a ‘gift ‘ is given, always let’s you know that you ‘owe’ them.

    • Ellen says:

      Maria, really enjoyed this post. Thank you. I agree with other poster about 5 Love Languages. Giving gifts is probably your “love language” so giving gift is a comfortable way to show others you care.
      Finding that balance between not making others who have different love language is where I struggle as well. This was helpful post, thank you.
      Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Mary from Virginia says:

    I love to give! I have an aunt who is an over giver and she keeps score. That’s what I don’t like. If I thought she gave and didn’t expect a return I’d be more happy with the gift. So I base all my gift giving on her behavior!
    Anytime you want to ship me a lamp, let me know! 🤣 You are a beautiful soul Maria. Thank you for always being a joy to read and watch!

  • Diane says:

    Such an interesting post, Maria!
    Giving and receiving can be complicated.
    We have a family member whose extraordinary professional success allows him to be generous in the extreme. He enjoys doing it and it’s impossible to repay, nor does he expect it. My mother-in-law was a “giver” but not really “generous.” She sort of took it out in you in unkind ways.
    “Here’s a piece of jewelry (I no longer wear) and I can now treat you any way I feel like..”
    And I have a couple of friends who enjoy giving as well, in the form of entertaining close friends.
    I feel guilty because for the past several years I’ve been mentally, physically and emotionally spent! I’m not sure family or friends understand…I’m not lazy or indifferent, just empty. So, no, I’m not an over-giver. If anything, I’m an under-giver! I try to make it up to my kids at Christmas in the form of cash.
    But it never feels “generous” to me.
    And it bothers me tremendously.

    • Beth says:

      Diane, I had a boss who used to frequently say that we do the best we can given the resources that we have. It has stuck with me for, oh, 35 years. : ) That doesn’t mean we can’t develop more resources or deepen ones we have, but it does help me remember to be kind to others – and myself. That’s my wish for you – the “myself” part, that is. : )

    • Lynn Forbes says:

      Diane, perhaps feeling emotionally spent and empty warrants an exploration of how you can give to yourself. What is it you need? So many women feel this way. Time to love you. Life is short.

  • Pam Hesse says:

    Such a great article Maria! I relate as I am a people pleaser who struggles to set my own boundaries with giving of time and talents. I love to give and was taught it is better to give than to receive. I have a few friends who could be said to “over give” and that makes me feel inadequate. The other side of the coin though is maybe they just are more “thoughtful” gift givers. Either way your article is great food for thought!! Thank you for sharing about yourself.

  • Melissa says:

    So insightful Maria and thank you for sharing. I relate to this very much and learned something else new from you!

  • Julie says:

    I’m very much like you. I give. It sparks joy in me. I’ve learned to put on the brakes and not “over give”. When out for lunch if i want to pay and there are objections I now shut up. But really. Why not have that attitude of giving. I think it’s in our DNA. If the whole world had an attitude of giving this would not be a big deal. You are creative and in the design field. Of course your going to switch things out on a regular basis. Why not make others happy and pass it along. I say, keep going on the free spirit of giving. Maybe just question the intention behind it, as I will now after reading this. Merry Christmas. Btw. What is an authentic relationship? Relationship is continually moving forward and changing. It does the best that it can in any moment. Otherwise it’s being judged.

    • Diane says:

      Lorri, You bring up a good point.
      I, too, went above and beyond trying to give the exact right gift to everyone one..and all w/in a budget. It was a shop-til-I-dropped situation. I became known for finding that fabulous thing that looked like much more than it cost. Hard work! As my mom always said, “Any fool can spend money!” Now, as a widow, and thanks to my husband’s “careful” financial planning, I “could” spend what I want on gifts but I don’t. We don’t do surprises, anymore.
      If it’s not on a list, you don’t get it!
      I’ve learned my kids don’t want their children showered with stuff/ over-gifted. I respect that, difficult though it may be!!

  • Nancy says:

    Maria – I think you
    Just wrote my life story .
    But seeing it written out as you just did was a eye opener .
    I will defiantly be doing some soul searching .
    Thank you you just touched my soul .

  • Kristin says:

    That was a lovely introspection, Maria. It sounds like your love language is clearly “Receiving Gifts”. Mine is “Acts of Service” and I inadvertently offended a friend with my love language once too! I visited her out of state and got up early one morning and thought, “Great – I’ll clean her huge parrot cage!” So by the time she got up I had cleaned the parrot cage out and the floor around it and was quite happy with myself that I was able to do that for her. She got up and said, “I just want you to come down and visit with me, not clean my house!” Her love language was “Quality Time” and furthermore me cleaning her house carried the sting of her critical mother that would come over, pick up, and criticize her housekeeping. We talked it out and laughed when I said, “Dang it – your mom ruined my love language!” But that made me realize I had to “give” love in the way other people “receive” it, which is sometimes awkward for me, especially if they are the Words of Affirmation type – I still stumble around with words. But I’m trying! Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who struggles through these things!

    • Ginger Coker says:

      Maria, thank you for your BLOG. I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl. Over giver is what I am. Read all the above comments and I’ve done them all. “Oh, it’s mine but you can have it”.I was getting my nails done and the nail tech said, “ I love your purse”. It was my favorite Louis Vuitton bag. I asked her if she had a plastic bag. She brought me the plastic bag, I emptied my purse and gave her my Louis Vuitton. I didn’t know this tech. I was happy for what I did. Not wanting anything in return. My granddaughter got a new apartment. I asked her if she needed any furniture. I emptied my whole den and gave it to her. I can see I have a problem. Thanks to everyone who made a comment above and to you María for being open enough to bring this subject up. Merry Christmas

    • Molly says:

      I appreciate reading this story. I have a similar one with my sister that didn’t end with a funny line like yours and laughing. Thanks for this warm, wise message.

  • Jill Baum says:

    Overgiver here. That quote was a real eye opener. I always think I must be a good person because I’m so generous but I now see the flaw in this. I’m actually quite self centered and largely want things all my way. Dare I say selfish? This is probably the most valuable post I’ve read. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  • Linda Trammel says:

    Your blog today was very enlightening. With Christmas upon us the “gift” giving becomes very burdensome for many. They really don’t have the extra money but feel obligated anyway to give gifts. I believe we should forgive gifts and just “give” of ourselves as much as possible. At the same time to give things away when you want to simply “give” them it is very very nice! There is a balance! Sometimes we don’t realize that the person receiving our generosity may be resentful towards us about it. To me that is their problem and may need to look into themselves for why they feel that way. It is complicated though. I don’t dare at all to say I have the answer. I believe you are over generous because you have a kind heart! Simple. My wishes are that you have a very Merry Christmas. I love that you love your Mom so much too!

  • Stephanie says:

    Hi Maria!

    Thank you so much for sharing. I always have a hard time finding the line between “professional” and over-sharing because I am a super transparent person. I love that you feel comfortable enough and can reflect on your own actions and share it with us! I appreciate this just as much as all of the wonderful color and decorating advice I’ve read on your blog over the years.

    My mom is an over-giver and as an adult I’m noticing that wore off on me, too. Self-reflection is always a good thing! I hope you can find your happy medium.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • Hayley says:

      Diane, your reply really struck a chord with me! My mother is a “giver” but actually not very generous. She keeps track of every little thing and constantly talks about times that she picks up the tab and it was never reciprocated. To me that is the least generous thing of all – to imply that something is a gift, but really it is more of a test.

      It has turned me into a bit of an under-giver, I think. I hate receiving gifts that are non-consumable (get me nice coffee any day!) because I feel obliged to keep them. Maria I physically cringed when you mentioned taking lamps to people! If I wanted a lamp I would buy one (don’t worry I have loads, one at least every four feet 😉) and yours might not be to my taste but I would feel obliged to keep it and have it in my house! Honestly that’s a nightmare scenario to someone picky like me.

      Also, I am fascinated by all the commenters mentioning they were hurt when people gave things away and didn’t offer it to them first. I would never give a friend my cast-offs. (Except kids stuff. Hand me downs are a different category to me, somehow 🤔). I give them to charity so I can be sure that whoever ends up with them actually wants them because they chose and bought them.

      It’s so funny reading / pondering all these different perspectives. Some people are offended at not being offering used items. Others may be offended at being offered them! Others still (me) just find them a burden.

      I’m happy to be offered, thought not too good at saying no. I just sometimes can’t think of the words quick enough. “It’s so kind of you to offer, but I just don’t need x right now”. I guess you can often tell the giver’s intention by how they react to this.

      Some are like, great, thanks for letting me know, I’ll pass it on to someone else. They are being generous and don’t want to give it to someone who doesn’t want it.

      It some people pressure you to take it… “you can always use another casserole dish!” etc. That’s when you know it’s more about either them just wanting it out of their house in the easiest way possible, or wanting to lord it over you.

      Finally, and wow this is an essay, I can’t bear people who keep track of gifts. If you buy me an (ugly) cushion, and you don’t see it on my sofa next time you come over, don’t make it awkward for both of us by asking where it is. We both know.

      Phew, thanks for letting me get all that off my chest. I’m off to soul search about why I’m such a grinch about giving / receiving. There’s definitely more to this…

      Love your website. Thank you for sharing so much with us x

      • Diane says:

        Great and intersting comment, Hayley!
        Unfortunately my husband was such an incredibly bad gift-giver, (anyone else ever find an industrial size can of soy sauce wrapped and under the tree??) that I wore his mother’s things..and used her discarded art and furniture..
        It was a very strange dynamic.

  • JA says:

    In my opinion, what it means to be generous, overly generous or the on the receiving end of such is highly individual. So what that means to you is not necessarily what it means to me. And even though you may have good intentions, you can’t always get into the other persons head to know that they will receive it that way.

    For example, you will have some readers that will not share your view that it’s impossible to over-give to your Mom. That stems from their relationships with their mothers that differ from yours.

    I think its admirable that you realized some of this issue stems from your own wish to be liked by others. I don’ think that’s “sad”. Its so human and nothing to be ashamed of. So I don’t know you, but from the pics of your house, of you, of your business, the stories you share of your life, you seemed so perfect. This adds another dimension and a good one at that:) Happy Holidays!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Loved this comment too and it totally makes sense! Of course parents can be a part of that, in fact if my Dad was alive (because my relationship with him was NOT the same as it is with my Mom) I would probably have the same issues there! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Jessie says:

    I can absolutely relate Maria. I have a close family member I have always felt compelled to “help” by donating my household items that I grew tired of but still had lots of life left. Did this for years and her house eventually became full of my hand me downs. I thought the entire time I was doing her a favor and it felt good to help. She never said no so I thought it was appreciated. That was until she made the comment that I made her feel bitter towards me and my giving as she is reminded daily of my successes in life in comparison to her failures. I was shocked and hurt as that was never my intentions. I was only coming from a good place and truly looked at it as helping her. I stopped that day offering up anymore hand me downs. And wouldn’t you know just last month she asked me if I was planning to replace a sofa any time soon as she could use a new one. Basically she had come to rely on my generosity and was missing it. Ironically I just replaced mine and didn’t offer her the old one and told her so. While the conversation was awkward, I wanted her to know that I never again wanted to make her feel like a failure in life.

    • alyr says:

      You’ve got to be kidding. So the moral of this story is “See? I was a fantastic person and told you you’d be sorry!!”.

      • Jessie says:

        The conversation was very enlightening to both sides. Very long. Too much to comment here. The moral is- it happens to everyone even when there’s good intentions behind motives. I didn’t want Maria to feel like she was alone. Most certainly wasnt mean to be a “are you kidding me” kind of comment.

  • alyr says:

    All that being said, along with the virtue signaling, what have you decided about deleting posts? (You shouldn’t delete any post that isn’t obscene or irrelevant).

    If you don’t want feedback or comments on “losing your temper in Italy” then simply don’t post about it. My guess is you were looking for readers to validate your behavior.

    I have NO PROBLEM telling people stop giving me crap they don’t want and crap I’ll never use. But I’m a minimalist and from what I remember, you have opposition to our lifestyle, too.

    • Beth says:

      Maria has often said she has no filter. My take – which could be 100% wrong – was she was embarrassed or unhappy with herself for posting it and wished she hadn’t – that the commenter helped her realize that.

      How is it virtue signaling when it’s simply someone discussing how she feels or what she doesn’t like about herself or is working on? (Rhetorical question.)

    • Annie says:

      Alyr, I’m a minimalist too and have been following Maria for at least 8 plus years. I have never known Maria to be opposed to minimalism. I have never been offended by anything Maria wrote. So many of Maria’s posts on color and decor have been continued inspiration for my maintenance as a minimalist (as you know, minimalism is a lifelong journey). Maria talks often of editing and shows her readers how. One can have a well edited, minimalist, yet beautiful curated space thanks to Maria and other bloggers who are so kind to put themselves out there by continuing to share their knowledge and experience with readers.

    • DeniseGK says:

      I think you go to far. You are basing a very harsh guess on not very much evidence. For the record, there were many comments on that post that were for, against, and mixed. Also it was left up for some time after posting, as she said, it was when she linked to it in a later post that she had a reaction that led to get taking it down.

      I was one of those who gave a mixed reaction: while I too struggle with temper, I do not excuse it. It is a serious failing and needs to be dealt with. My comment reflected that with the advice and personal experience I shared at the time. Maria responded with sincerity and appreciation of my words even though they were critical.

      It’s obvious you have been hurt by other people’s reactions to your lifestyle. I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m not a minimalist and I do not aspire to be one, but I do think it has created many lovely and peaceful spaces. I’m glad that you have found a style that makes you happy. Please do not hold onto your pain or seek to spread it. I can tell you from my own poor choices in the past, it will always burden you the most. Let it go and be free instead.

  • Cherie says:

    Such a good post and the comments are exceptional. I have only one thing to add. I have had the experience of giving perhaps too much to someone who I felt needed things. After a while, she stopped thanking me. That’s when it hit me…I’ve overdone it, I’ve crossed over from giving what was appreciated to giving too much and making that person feel obligated, or perhaps feeling embarrassed at being needy. So I have backed off.

  • Jessica says:

    I have been the recipient of an over-giver and it has made me very uncomfortable. I was not able to give back to the same degree and it has almost wanted me to give up on the relationship. In the end I didn’t since I brought it up in a serious discussion and the over-giver has stopped the over-giving. We now have a much more balanced friendship.
    While giving is wonderful, while being generous is great, it cannot always be received as intended due to an imbalance. We all need to think about that…

  • Kathleen says:

    Thank you so much Maria. I will be thinkiong about this post for a long time. Your quote “Never give anyone more than they are emotionally capable of receiving, or they will have no choice but to hate you for it.” is so true and being a “giver” I never thought about it that way.
    I’m always learning more from you than just how to choose a colour.
    Happy Holidays to you and Terreeia

  • Jane Beard says:

    Wow. This so hit home to me. And this time of year, the temptation to over-give is enormous, at least for me. I found it very helpful (as all your posts are), and I am taking it to heart. Here’s to givers developing the capacity to be given to, as well.

  • Pursuit of Perfect says:

    Thank you for this post. You are a generous person and your blog is a testament to that. Your posts reveal your talent and expertise. Yes, your business flourishes as a result but it is because you discovered how to articulate and share so much profound yet subtle important knowledge about creating the spaces in which we exist and we all need you! Thank you, too, for that.

    “Transactional” is a term we’ve seen a lot in the news these days and one that gives me pause, especially as a parent of busy, independent adult children. I don’t have the answer on managing my expectations but you have at least articulated the question!

    Merry Christmas, Maria and Terreia.

  • Brenda says:

    Oh boy! This resonates with me for sure. I think this is the first article I have ever read that talks about this. I am terrible at asking for anything, yet gift-giving is probably my main love-language (referencing the above comment on Gary Chapman’s book about the 5 love languages). I really need to sit with this and digest it a little bit. The biggest thing I thought of was that I hope this is a step towards repairing some relationships for you, Maria. It takes a big person to look inwards and realize that their behaviour has perhaps driven a wedge in an important relationship. The next step is a genuine and truthful apology – if you are wanting great guidance in that area have a look at Harriet Lerner’s book, “Why Won’t You Apologize”. Apologizing is an art and the way you go about it can make or break a relationship forever. Thank you so much for everything you have given us, your readers, over the years.

  • Melissa says:

    I love this post Maria! I never thought of it this way but i have been on the receiving end of an overly generous neighbor and yes it makes me resentful. She gave me a $100 gift card for a pedicure for taking her to get her car when it broke down! I resonate with your temper as well and how you do what you can to manage it as well as feelings of insecurity. It is nice to know we are not alone! I sure am happy that I took your course and you were will to be generous enough to share your knowledge!

    I hope you and Tereeia have a Fabulous holiday –

  • Susan says:

    Thankyou for stepping us through your thought process. Sometimes I know something is ‘off’ but struggle to even figure out the right questions to ask myself. It seems to me that giving and receiving is a complicated dance. Mine started with generous parents and while I reaped the benefit of this generosity, I also internalized thoughts of not accomplishing enough on my own and being undeserving. I’ve worked hard to practise being a grateful receiver and luckily changed my mindset prior to my fathers passing. On the giving side I’m still in need of more self reflection as I’m stepping on toes, whilst trying to dance. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  • JK says:

    I had a friend who would ask ‘favours’ that were no problem for me to provide – basically just hosting playdates for our kids when she had an appointment. It cost me nothing to do it and if it had been a problem I wouldn’t have agreed. But she would immediately jump into arranging some “reciprocal” effort on her part, even when I had no need or it actually wasn’t even convenient for me. I came to realize she was more interested in satisfying her own guilty feelings than actual true reciprocity, which would have involved paying more attention to what I wanted in the situation (which was actually nothing, but in retrospect she could have gotten me a small gift or something if she really needed to). Her need to balance the scales every time outweighed my needs and ultimately made me feel the “friendship” was transactional.

  • Marlynda says:

    I just read your post with insights about giving, generosity And over-giving. I could write hundreds of words expressing how I relate to this. I will instead just say, I filed it on my Pinterest Board entitled, WISDOM. You touched my heart and a nerve that insists that I examine my giving habits and my sometimes feeling of resentment of a relative who has no boundaries in asking for things and money which stems from my giving over generously when I was younger and had much more resources to give from. I struggle with saying no, but feel guilty when I do. I guess that’s the other side of the coin. Thank you for your wisdom in many areas which you generously share, not just about color, but about life and love. You enrich my life in so many ways.
    Consider this a long distance hug for all of your generosity.

  • Bette says:

    I really appreciate this honest post. Having been on the receiving end of an over-giver, I can personally attest to how it often made me feel “less than.” I never asked for this person’s excess items, and even if they were given in a spirit of love and friendship, as I believe they were, the over-giving created resentment and imbalance. Thank you for verbalizing what I’ve often felt.

  • Julie S says:

    I’ve dealt with a few overgivers in my time. I have a pretty strong independent streak and it’s so uncomfortable to feel the neediness of the giver to have you be smiling and thanking and appreciating them for unasked-for items, even when the items are very nice. Or even just to feel that you can’t meet them on equal terms (a friend who was always insisting on paying at restaurants because he made so much more money and liked to eat out a lot- finally changed his habits after several discussions about it). An infrequent offer of something, where I am casually asked first if I’d even like to receive the thing and it doesnt’ feel like there’s strings attached, can be very nice once in a while. But unless it’s Christmas or my birthday, don’t give me something gushing about how you thought of me and wanted to give me X item!

    • Maria Killam says:

      This is very well said, thank you! Struck a chord with me for sure, I have simply never thought of it from the other side, thank you! Maria

  • S says:

    Years ago I had a conversation with my therapist about my mom. My therapist said my mom was a big believer in the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But she said that a revision of this is the platinum rule: that we should do unto others the way they want us to do. The thing is my mom would get really upset if her generosity wasn’t appreciated in exactly the way she’d want it to be. And a lot of times she’d give me things I didn’t want or need but expect me to be grateful for them. She could get very upset if it seemed like someone wasn’t thankful for what she’d given, but usually wouldn’t ask beforehand if it was wanted. I’ve come to realize that gifts given that way are more about the giver than the receiver, which isn’t the best kind of giving. I’ve been guilty of it, too. It’s good to reflect on your own motivations sometimes. But I appreciate all the knowledge that you share here!

  • Becky H says:

    Thank you for this, I spent a good portion of this year deciphering that I’m an over giver. What a great and timely read. <3

  • Alex says:

    Bravo, Maria. Such honesty and vulnerability. You are not alone and I totally related to your post today. Thank you for your generosity of heart and spirit. I so appreciate it. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas.

  • Nancy says:

    Its so brave to look at your heart- examining your own motives can be scary! It’s always so good to ask yourself the “why’s”, especially when you find yourself reacting and you don’t know why. An unhealthy co-dependency can be subtle and sneak and ruin relationships and leave us so broken. Prayers for healing with your family member! I recently had a 10+ year family rift repaired I never thought would happen. Thank you especially for all your generous color inspiration and teaching, I’ve learned so much from you!

  • Max says:

    Omigosh—A very timely post. It stings a little, but at least I know that I’m not the only one.

  • Lee Souleles says:

    Funny, this post came at the most opportune time, and I’ve really had to take a look and evaluate my giving motives.
    To be honest, I’m sure some of it has to do with a need to be ‘liked’ and known to be a good person. All of this fits into your blog post, and I probably should take some time in the new year to explore this, and your other points, a bit more.
    But, on the other hand, I’ve realized in these Covid times GIVING is my love language. Entertaining and sharing my home with family and friends is VERY important to me and I’ve been starved of it for almost a year now. I LOVE giving gifts– entertaining and sharing my home, my time, and presents.
    Zoom just isn’t cutting it these days. So, once again, I’ll be doing a bit of over giving, to a few special friends, and neighbors, who keep an eye out for us, take out the trashcans when we aren’t around, etc., as good neighbors tend to do.
    There is no agenda attached (in fact I hate to think they worry about recoprication–this is the most salient deterrent) it’s just wanting to show people important to me my sincere gratitude, for being such good friends and neighbors.

  • Elaine says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Maria. Giving makes us feel better but it often makes the recipient feel worse – whomp.

  • Arlene says:

    Wow I relate to most everything you honestly shared Maria. I applaud you for sharing your thoughts.
    I am now thinking of my overgiving. Why am I giving, what am I needing from them? As a Mom I do it constantly. Due to Covid I have cut 1 thing out and plan to do quit another for Christmas mostly because I have noticed it’s not coming from my heart like it used to but doing it because I think I should. Dammm the “should.” Yesterday my husband and daughter told me to quit planning for the family. I felt slighted but know when I do this I am controlling. Back to the Serenity prayer. Merry Christmas!

  • Andie says:

    I appreciate the honesty and transparency. It’s hard to do! Have you heard of the enneagram? You sound like an enneagram 2 to me. IYKYK 😉

  • Molly says:

    Wow. This might have hit a little too close to home. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ellen Glynn says:

    We all try hard to be the best person we can be. We all have family/ friend issues. Some lasting longer than others! I think you are smart, talented and human!! Fix what you can, recognize your awesome attempt to be even better. And remember to not be too hard on yourself. Be well, stay safe and have a lovely holiday!

  • Kay Perret says:

    Dear Maria,
    Many thanks for being your honest, vulnerable, authentic self. Such a well-done post with lots of food for thought.
    Happy holidays to you and your family!
    With appreciation,

  • Patricia says:

    Wow, terrific article by you. I have a friend who is exactly as described in giving monetary gifts. I love her dearly like a sister. She gives all of the time to friends, family, even acquaintances and hardly can afford to do so. I think I’m going to share this with her.

    Thanks Maria!

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you for this very insightful post. I got a few nuggets of wisdom from it and see some things I can change in the way I interact with others. So thank you thank you!!

  • PA says:

    I appreciate all of the comments about over-giving of gifts. I will ponder that as perhaps we fall into that at Christmas time with a couple of relatives. When we reached the point that “I give you a gift card and you give me a gift card” something is lost in the process.

    I tend to run into people that are over-givers of advice. It has prompted me to end multiple relationships over the years or at the least make sure I don’t share anything personal with that person. Sometimes it makes me feel inadequate or frustrated because now what do I do with this information when I already have a plan of action? The pleaser is inclined to follow their suggestion even if I don’t like it so I don’t have to deal with the conflict. Now I speculate in many cases they can’t help it but it drives me crazy! Now I say “Are you open to ideas?” before I launch into unsolicited advice. It gives them a chance to say “No, I’ve got this!”

    • Heidi F. says:

      Oh, especially that last bit is a really helpful consideration! Thanks, PA! I am concerned I jump in and over-advise sometimes and want to handle those situations more graciously. I want to acknowledge that people can come up with their own solutions or ask for assistance before I automatically don a cape un-asked, LOL.

  • Sue says:

    I’m not sure if this helps but I read somewhere that “a gift is a leap of faith”.

  • Kat says:

    Wow, thanks for that post. On many levels this hit home. I have a very uneven relationship with my older sister (by 9 years). I am in a much better financial situation, I have a loving husband (she’s divorced) and my children are all married and having children (hers are not doing well). I have helped her financially, emotionally and am always on the giving end of the relationship. I resent that she doesn’t ever call me (we live within walking distance), never has us over, she does me favors when I ask her of course, but doesn’t think to do something just because. When we were younger she was always the giver, so I was happy to be able to help her as time went on and our lives flip flopped. It has wrecked our relationship. I don’t really look forward to hanging out with her, and I don’t think she wants to be around me either.
    Now I realize that I have done too much. She must really resent me. So out of wanting to do everything I could for her I have hurt her. I will learn this lesson right here, right now. Probably time to have a very honest conversation-which our family does not do well.

  • Denebola says:

    Maria, we are always growing and learning about ourselves. Insight into ourselves, whether good or bad, is growth and you will be a better person because of it. Your level of introspection serves you well; don’t get discouraged if there is still more to discover on this trait. Keep growing!

  • Yes a great post. I instantly recognized : think nobody else is capable so I “have” to do something. And I am guilty of this every day in ways small and large. Therefore, I end up in exhausting situations some trivial but others that go on or years. The one example is signing up to be the executrix of a will, that has virtually entrapped me for the past 5 years with no end in sight.
    I seriously need to recognize that others can do things to, although it is a huge mindset for me to overcome.

    I enjoy your posts both professional and personal.

  • chris says:

    I believe you now have a further revelation of human nature but not everyone is in the same position and insecure about themself as you say. For instance, I am completely secure in my life because I am in Jesus Christ and He is in me. He does it for me and others who rely on Him in a right relationship with Him. Free to give and free to receive.

  • Rdw says:

    I just started following your blogs and I love your design advice. This is me and I inherited this from my mother! I panic at Christmas time since there is always someone that gives a “little something “ even though we are not exchanging. As I get older, I have cut back .
    Thank you for sharing !

  • Linda says:

    This post brings to mind the Five Love Languages. Supposedly we all give and receive love five ways, and we need to know which person receives in which way, and to understand that what someone gives may not be our favorite: (In no particular order) 1. Affirmation.
    2. Physical touch 3. Receiving gifts 4. Quality time and 5. Acts of service.
    Whenever my neighbor did an act of service (yard work), I found it impossible to repay in kind (and so felt uncomfortable.) However, I found that he enjoyed the gifts of food and a handmade item, so I found how to show appreciation in a way that worked for both of us. For me, quality time is always a show of love.

  • Marguerite says:

    Dear Maria, You wrote ” 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”. Sad right?”

    NO!!!!!! NOT SAD! HUMAN! you are simply human. And we love you. We are ALL human, learning each and every day, about the world, and about ourselves. When we know better , we do better. (I think Oprah said that). Happy Holidays and wishing you and T health, joy, and Peace.

  • Gail says:

    Omg! This is a powerful and real expression, and I am grateful. Just looking at the tower of presents I wrapped and resonating…looking forward to digesting this tonic.

    • Vicki in Vancouver says:

      A wise radio talk show host had a discussion about this several years ago (not Oprah). She said, in response to a caller’s confusion over why her giving wasn’t appreciated, “Remember that it always feels better to give than to receive. Giving makes the giver feel warm and fuzzy. It makes the receiver feel like a charity case.” I have never forgotten that. I recently attended a birthday dinner party that is held every year to celebrate 3 birthdays, one of which is mine. Every year there are gifts brought by all, wine, chocolate, flowers, that sort of thing. This year, the host stated “No Gifts”. We are all now trying to clear the clutter out of our houses, and we need nothing, not even wine. I thought about it for awhile, finally decided to take her at her word. I brought no gifts. Out of 6 of us, 4 brought gifts. The woman who wrote “No Gifts” on the invitation later said “Of course we have gifts! We always have gifts!”. I was furious. I felt like she said it because she felt I couldn’t afford gifts, but that wasn’t her call to make. It ruined what is usually a fun birthday celebration. I am rethinking my friendship with these women. I have found, when I am tempted to give too much, a card written from the heart has always been well received. No gift, no hard feelings, just heartfelt words.

  • Carolyn Z says:

    This post perfectly expressed some of the reasons why I love to be generous. Sometimes I give out of a genuine impulse from God. But sometimes I give because I want people to like me (insecurity at its finest). I realized years ago that I was a people pleaser, and have had to work on that. Now I need to inspect my generosity to see if there are remnants of people-pleasing there too. Ouch!

    Finally, however, thank you for your honesty & generosity in sharing your insights with your audience. Happy Holidays!

  • Hannah Winebarger says:

    I relate to being on the receiving end, for sure! That quote about never giving more than one is emotionally ready for us mind-blowing. Have you looked into the Enneageam? A lot of what you’re describing sounds like it tracks pretty well with Enneageam 2 (not saying you are a 2, it might just be interesting to look at how you relate to it).

  • Rosanna Harter says:

    I love generosity as a trait and wish more people had it. I felt the same about my precious mom who is now gone…

    Thank you for the generous gift of these emails. I’ve learned so much and enjoy them so much.

    There is no better feeling then being generous with others, but like most things I guess it can sometimes be over done or misplaced. If I were you, I think I would just relish picturing people use and enjoy my design work! I have found myself smiling when I saw the results of your work on sisters places, your friends and nephews.

    Dr Joshua Coleman has a book coming out in March about how to reconnect after estrangement. It might apply mostly to parent/child but you find find something useful for other family members as well.

    All the best to you and yours!

  • Sandra says:

    This post is thought provoking for me. It has really caused me to evaluate my motivation for giving. I much prefer to give than to receive but never considered why that is. When I give I like to feel that I am pleasing the other person with my gift. It feels good to be generous both with people I know and privately. Receiving for me can be awkward sometimes – especially in person. I may not want or like the gift. I don’t want to be the center of attention if the gift is publicly given. I often feel obligated to reciprocate equally or greater than. I have to determine if there are strings attached. I wonder if I have thanked the person appropriately enough for the gift. Perhaps I’m an over thinker, but it is much easier to just be the giver. Up until now I felt generosity had no limits but now you have me rethinking this.

  • Jaye says:

    Wow this was such a relatable article! Also really made me think and question things. I definitely related fully with everything you shared and this is me as well. It was interesting the examine the motives behind the over-giving. I recently had a conversation with my daughter who loves to give as well and explained if she starts giving gifts to some of her friends who are students and can’t afford to reciprocate may leave them feeling obligated to reciprocate. She answered of course that she loves to give and it’s not about getting anything back but as much as I feel the same way and her and I both say we give because we want to not because we need or expect anything in return, I have learned from family members straight up telling me they don’t like me giving gifts because they feel obligated back and it has made me think a bit more before over-giving. However, when I don’t give at the level I am used to, I feel bad because it seems so different to who I have always been and I guess deep down feel those people won’t love me as much because of it,etc. again going back to that motive. A lot of food for thought there and I really will think about the words said there.

  • Sarah says:

    Bravo. May we all grow in giving and receiving by thinking of the needs of others more than ourselves.
    Thank you, Maria, from my heart, for sharing as you learn.

  • Karen says:

    Look at the flood of comments lol! Do men ever worry about these things? 🙂 My husband says I am an over-giver, but I always justified it in my mind as part of my culture, being Japanese American raised in Hawaii. In the last couple of years, I have started baking desserts that are either keto or paleo, and I love being able to gift people with edible goodies, because giving cookies doesn’t evoke a feeling of “I need to give her something in exchange” that something like a gift card does. Sometimes people can also be guilty of over-giving advice, too. Thank you, Maria, for another thoughtful post. We are all works in progress! Just as your blog has changed and evolved, so have you, but you will always be TIMELESS. 🙂

  • Leigh Ann says:

    Wow. You spent a lot of time giving careful thought and consideration in writing this post. It was insightful and courageous. Self-reflection makes us better. Mend those important family relationships and don’t beat yourself up too much. Your intentions come from a good place and I’m so impressed by your eloquence. You are a perfectly imperfect rock star!!

  • Trish says:

    I am inspired by your thoughtful reflection and candid self evaluation, Maria! We do need to be mindful of our disposition when being generous! You are so smart to have discovered the value in considering the motive behind your giving. But in the same light we need to be mindful of our spirit of receiving, too! I remember my Dad telling me: “You are the only one making yourself feel guilty.” when I fussed that his generosity made me feel badly. As a result, I tell my kids that someone else’s generosity calls us to be thankful and not obliged. We all have different means and different styles and we won’t go wrong if we give from the heart and receive into our hearts. You are generous with your honesty, Maria. Thank you for sharing. I wish you all the best for a very happy Christmas season and new year full of more blessings!

  • gary says:

    Their are two types of people, The Givers and of course the Takers!

    • Linda says:

      Agreed Gary. It’s when one side gives or takes too much and it upsets the balance that resentment is fuelled and can damage the relationship.

  • Shelley says:

    This is such a timely blog post. I have been so giving and generous at Christmas in the past, I feel like it has become an expectation. Now I feel under pressure to repeat it year after year. It has become a drag and is really taking the joy out of Christmas for me. Maybe no one expects it and I am telling myself something that isn’t true, but I don’t think so. I hope I’m not making others feel bad with my gifting. If that is true, then all of my efforts and money have been a waste.
    Great post. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing. It helps to know I’m not alone and by the looks of the responses, there are many of us!

  • OMG, this is me!! I give everything away,I feel if I don’t, it won’t be perfect!
    I received a very expensive gift this week from my assistant. It was because I helped her and her husband with their new home. I would do this for anyone that can’t afford my services (that I care about)! I cant even look at it, (gift) I told her to please return it and put the money away for their little one’s college fund.

    I also went crazy, setting up my home and prepping for my nieces wedding day prep. It looked like a Pinterest board. I wanted her day to be so perfect and memorable. I felt I was never properly thanked by my sister. It was for her daughter!
    I am an over giver!! Thank you for sharing this!!
    Christine Gentile @ashbournedesigns

  • Bonnie says:

    How insightful. I have an over giver in my life and have decided it is both her way of showing love and fulfilling a psychological need for herself. The bows and packages are always the largest and prettiest at any party. I wish you the best in your family and personal relationships. Thank you for sharing.

  • Linda says:

    Marie, I was posting on my FB page when your FB video popped up and I saw you become emotional, so I had to go and see what had happened. What had you done that caused so many comments. I skimmed through them after reading your blog post, and you have been given a tremendous amount of support for this difficult to navigate, issue.

    I fall into this ‘over giver’ category as well. It has served to remind me that my intention is everything. This takes work and lots of it. It’s hard to not have certain expectations from the receiver of your generosity. But, I find myself judging if they don’t respond in a way that I have anticipated. In other words, the way I’d handle it. One apt description of this, is when I hand someone a gift and they say a quick ‘thank you’ and then set it down somewhere and you never hear another word about it. I judge that. I fret over it. I ask myself … ‘what the hell?”

    It also reminds me of an episode of Friends where Joey tells Phoebe that there’s no such thing as a ‘good deed’ without feeling good about it, which he says is NOT selfless. So Phoebe sets about doing all these kind and generous things for others but Joey is able to describe why it wasn’t a selfless act. One of her attempts was to let a bee sting her and Joey reminded her that the bee would now die as a result of stinging her.

    It’s like that. Solving a problem is being aware that there is one (first step). The rest will follow but we have to work on it. I’m trying…

  • Liz says:

    Thx for sharing this vulnerability, Maria. For the last few years, I’ve waited til 11th hour to mail a gift to a family member who needs to live frugally, thinking if she gets it only just b4 Xmas, she won’t have time to turn around & mail something to me – meaning I will have been able to gift her (as I desire to do so) without there being pressure on her to reciprocate.

    WELL – she got me something & spent a fortune expediting it so I’d get it b4 Xmas! We had a conv. about it & ur right – she was upset that I would put my gift upon her in a way that she had to reciprocate in what was a stressful way for her. It simply wasn’t an option for her to just not send me anything (which is what I wanted).

    I was an over-giver in the past & since ur exampling honesty, I’ll admit that I was hoping for something in return – I think it was friendship. I can still be generous at times but I’m choosier now, and it’s much less frequent. And now that I’m older, I’m much less into ‘things’ and find friends & family feel the same. So we’re all winning & spending less $ in the process 🤓

  • Liz in Oregon says:

    Wow! (To echo so many others) First of all Maria, thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your loyal readers…trusting us with your uncomfortable realization about yourself. That, in itself is a gift. And from the comments, I can see that you have also gifted us with a way for us understand and explain something about ourselves that we weren’t even aware of, or not clearly anyway. Sort of like giving us a way to explain undertones maybe? 🙂 And thank you to all the commenters who shared their insights so openly.

    This morning I read your post to my husband of 54 years because it helped me understand why being on the receiving end of his loving and necessary help recently (due to a permanent physical disability) is so fraught for me emotionally…suddenly feeling “less than” I used to be. We had a really honest conversation about this from both sides and we understand better where we each are coming from. Your post also helped me rethink a relationship I have with a “needy” friend that has become unbalanced because I over-give which has led to resentment on my part, and perhaps hers.

    I texted a friend to tell her about your post and this article, sharing my insights about myself as well as about some boundaries she has recently set with someone she was helping. I told her that in the spirit of the article I wouldn’t “give” it to her unless she really wanted to read it. 😀 She laughed and said she did.

  • Margaret says:

    Thank you, Maria, for being so open with your readers. That takes a lot of courage. I, for one, think that if you’re not growing, you’re not paying attention, because all of us needs growth at some stage in our lives, whether the issue you mentioned, or any number of others. I love your blog, I appreciate your knowledge, and now, I respect your wisdom. You’re keeping it honest, my friend. Best wishes for the upcoming holidays.

  • Thank you for your thought-provoking post. You inspire me in how you aren’t afraid to write about the hard stuff we create in our lives.

    Sending you love and thanks for your friendship.

  • Wow! You are brave and honest about yourself…I love that. Over the years I’ve seen people resent those who give to them. And now I understand why. I’m on the generous side myself and will now be more mindful of that 🙂

  • Di says:

    Great post Maria. For me, it all started when I was a child. My parents of 4 kids made sure they spent exactly the same on each child. They never spent a lot as we didn’t have a lot but it was their way of making sure no one felt they were their favorite. With my own 3 kids, I found I was excessively equal to the point I totalled up their Christmas present costs and made it all equal with cash if one got “more” than the other. It makes gift giving harder and I had to use a spreadsheet to keep track. I enjoy giving my kids (and grandkids) gifts I think they need but I have stopped giving siblings and friends gifts of stuff. I can jams, tomatoes, ketchup and my husband fishes for salmon and hunts elk & deer so we give gifts throughout the year and at Christmas of mostly food items that we had a hand in growing or getting. At Christmas, everyone enjoys nuts and specialty cheeses if you must buy. I propagate many plants like hydrangeas and hardy fuchsias and offer too. We could easily afford to buy gifts, but find I don’t enjoy buying something just to buy a gift that will be regifted or just sit unused. I have received many of those gifts that it is a waste of money and space. Instead of gifts, just be kind, helpful, nterested in the other person and give sincere compliments. Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated and those gifts cost nothing to give. I volunteer at two main organizations and give freely of my time as do so many others. We don’t feel a “need” to give gifts to each other but we do value, admire and appreciate each other. I do think it’s wonderful that you offer gifts to your friends and family, perhaps if you said you were going to donate the item, but thought you would check first if it was something they might be interested in, it would not feel as much of a gift as perhaps saving you the trip to the donation site.

  • Cherie says:

    I have a sweet lady who cleans for me every other week. I know for a fact she is needy, but I try not to offer her things outright. I ALWAYS say something like,”Do you know anyone who could use this toaster (for example)?” She has never turned anything down that I have offered, but will say that she knows someone who could use the item. This works out well because I can give her things, she can take what she really wants, and truly she can give it to someone else if that is her choice. Whatever she does with the things I offer her is her business. She keeps her pride and in the end, I believe I have helped her many times.

  • Michelle says:

    Maria, this is such an interesting topic and I appreciate hearing about this from the perspective of the over-giver. I think there can be another element to this relationship dynamic and, as an under-giver, to me it is not a sense of obligation to return the gift but the feeling that the gift was given out of a desire to gain power in the relationship and a “you owe me” mentality.

    I will give you an example: a couple of years ago, an old friend of my husband’s came to visit us with his three young children. We were happy to have them and to see them. BUT…

    He arrived with numerous expensive gifts for our family: wine, toys, fancy jars of mustard, 2 flats of fruit, a puzzle, a sculpture. Just ridiculously over-the-top. He arrived on a Monday knowing that we both work full-time and have two young children of our own, made no apologies, expected a great deal of our time, didn’t do a dish or make a bed and was generally a terrible house guest.

    He then asked to stay more than the two days he was invited for and when we said no it was clear he was very put out. I could just see the steamy thought bubble above his head saying, “After all I’ve done for you?” Needless to say we won’t be hosting him again, and next time we pass through his town we’ll stay in a hotel.

    This comment is much longer than I intended! But I think it is interesting and maybe a symptom of our consumerist mentality where giving objects is a replacement for simpler and more meaningful gestures (like cooking dinner for your busy hosts and making your bed).

    On another note I just discovered your website and it helped me pick a paint colour for my dreary little basement office. Thank you–I’m enjoying my Powell Buff walls as I type!

    All the best,

  • Norma Fournier says:

    A therapist’s dream post! (I have been a therapist for 23 years). I read with such respect for the vulnerability you show on your blog (over and over again). I read with empathy (because I have worked with this same issue and come to the same understanding you have expressed here). I read with awe at your courage (knowing that courage does not mean we don’t feel fear….but that we may feel fear and we do it anyway, because it is important to do). After sitting with people for so many years who I deem to be among the strongest and most beautiful, those who come to look bravely and deeply at their own parts, my love and respect for you took a huge leap and I didn’t think that was possible! I also read with interest and respect each of your blog readers’ replies. This group continues to be my most loved and respected group of people that I know! A group that of course shares my love of design and color….and also a group, led by you, who respond with such humanity. “Amazing”! I love you all.

  • Jenny says:

    Thank you.

  • Lucy says:

    There is so much in this post to ponder about oneself. I feel like I should have been a teacher because I give out too much information about things such as design, politics, history or what have you. I don’t do it to put anyone down but it is because I get so excited over things that I think everyone should know. So I didn’t even ask if they want what I know. That is like giving something to people who could care less and don’t even want to know. I guess everyone has their own journey.

    Love to read all of the responses. Sounds like you hit a chord with everyone. Thank you!

  • Ray Fordyce says:

    I greatly enjoyed reading your post. I surely one of your more unusual readers: I am not interested in interior design per se but in what makes things beautiful; a beautiful image, a beautiful view, a beautiful person. So far I think I have learned this: I want to give others what they actually want to receive and joyfully receive from others what they actually want to give. Thank you for giving what you do.

  • Oh Maria, you hit upon something I have had more arguments with my family on. Between My brother telling me “ we need to stop exchanging Christmas gifts” and me blowing up and saying “ no one is going to tell me I can’t buy my nieces and nephew presents”! But I think I’m in the generous looking over the giver syndrome. I do and give but usually have an excuse. A small gift for putting up with me. Your birthday is coming. A new apartment etc etc. I went to school for merchandising and interior design and at one point had my own business. So now that my nieces just got new apartments, it’s so hard to hold back and not decorate for them. I even started Pinterest pages for when they get married lol. Constraint is not in my vocabulary. But I’m trying. My family and friends have learned..this is who I am. I think you should question more if these people really know you. Being a giver is part of who we are. I am also a professional vocalist have been since I was 16. You wear your heart on your sleeve with anything in the arts. Interior design is feeling… you have to give a piece of you every time you create a beautiful place…and give it away to a client. I would accept it as that’s a part of your heart…probably why we get hurt from it…

  • Connie Jolay says:

    Hi Maria,

    I’m so happy your wrote about this topic. I tend to be an over giver as well and what I’ve noticed is that it can make some people uncomfortable. As an example, I live to change out my home decor and change things up and it gives me so much pleasure to pass it along to a friend who may need it. I’m more than happy to do it but, there have been times that I’ve thought that people may have seen me as a bit of a show off because I was giving something away that they couldn’t even afford to buy for themselves. That was never the case with me. I just couldn’t wait to make them happy really! I’ve now learned that maybe sometimes it’s just better to keep a few things hidden away and donate it to charity and have someone other than a friend or family member score the deal. Just my thought. Giving too much has come back to bite me in the ass on several occasions! On a separate note, I love your posts! I’m relatively new to IG and am so happy to have found you! I do have a question…have you ever considered doing virtual sessions? Perhaps you already do. I’m desperate for some color advice for my kitchen walls!

  • Betsy says:

    Holy holidays!! This post hit me in the gut. I’m dealing with a neighbor who is constantly giving me things, from junky stuff to lovely expensive stuff. I’ve said thank you, written and mailed thank you notes, and even brought goodies over to her house. I hate shopping for others and hate the feeling of having to come up with a sweet gesture of thanks and goodwill when I’ll be hauling some of her gifts to the real Goodwill! Whew! I’ve told myself that I will tell her we are not going to pass ANY gifts along, for any reason in 2021. You are a dear for posting this very personal topic. Thank you so much!

  • Jan says:

    Great post. The way I over give is cooking. I love to plan extravagant meals and make everything from scratch. Let’s face it….this is a way to show off and I enjoy the process. But I have a group of friends who are decades younger than me. They have small apartments, live with their parents or can’t cook and I don’t want them to feel like they have to reciprocate by going out to a restaurant. So we had potlucks at my place…they insisted! Sometimes the food was awful! But the companionship is always great and we were able to get to gather more often because a potluck is a cheap night out. It is hard to let go of my idea of how to host and how to entertain but I know they are more comfortable if I do less. Looking forward to when we can back together again.

    Thank you for everything you share Maria. Best wishes for a happy holiday season and new year.

  • Sue in SC says:

    I give a lot as well, but I always say: “I’m going to donate this to the local shelter/secondhand store/etc, are you interested in any of it before I give it away? If they say “yes!” that’s great, but if not: I’m fine with that too.
    However, I have a former friend who would say yes, and say how great that would look, or how much she needed this item…. but then take it to a consignment boutique (and I’d see my items there!). I immediately took her off my giving list. (This family is very well off, owns their home outright, sold a second home with a ginormous profit…. definitely don’t “need” the money). I know once you give an item away you should not worry…. but when the pretense of receiving is not on par: then I’m done.
    I give because it makes me feel good that someone might love something as much as I once did.

    • Barb J. says:

      I do the same thing. I send an email with the photo and say, “If anyone wants this, it’s yours. Otherwise it’s going to charity.” One of my friends will say, “SOLD!”

  • Marilyn says:

    I appreciate that you have raised this topic. Very brave of you Maria. I wonder if you have asked yourself if there is a difference for you in giving to people you know rather than just giving anonymously to goodwill/charity.

    I am reflecting on the over-givers I know, and my sense is, when I relate to them, that they seem to be trying to fill a void that is missing in my relationship with them. My closest and best friends are not over-givers, and it is the quality of our relationship that binds us together and is mutually gratifying. If I receive a gift from them, it is carefully considered, and fits my personality and interests. It may be something they bought new or something they don’t need anymore, but the ‘careful thought’ aspect is always important. And they don’t give me too much, because that would take away from the most valuable thing……which is the relationship.

    Might be a consideration to think about, and if it doesn’t feel like a perfect gift, give it to goodwill. The charity will benefit and there won’t be any issues of hurt feelings or misunderstandings

  • Dotti says:

    Oh! Of all the personality problems to have, I’ll take it!
    I understand it is causing painful problems right now, and no one likes to feel pain or think they have hurt a loved one’s feelings.
    Think of it this way, at your funeral do you want people to say, “Maria had so much, but she was a small, stingy woman, never willing to share.” Or, do you want to hear them say, “Maria was always sharing her joy of color and beauty with exuberance and good will.”
    Now that you know your family member is feeling insecure and jealous of your life, yes, of course you will tone it down. But please don’t let it change your entire outlook or approach to life! Be your amazing self. Do what you do best.
    What is the quote? 7.8 billion people on Earth and you let one stop you?
    Giving is not a sin. Lol

  • mimi says:

    My grandmother often gave us a bag of mixed up gifts at Christmas and would loudly tell us that if we didn’t like what was inside we could trade with our sibling. As the receiver, I felt- gosh, Grandma don’t you know what I like? Why would I need to trade?
    As a university student, my mother would send cards more than once a month to me, I felt like she was trying to get attention. When I had my own toddlers and there were no grandparents alive to buy them gifts, I more than made up for that lack. However, as they grew older, I stopped especially after I saw that I was burdening them and they weren’t even 14 yet. I saw that I didn’t respect them or their love language, I gave out of guilt for lack of grandparents. Now, when I was downsizing and I wanted to share my craft things with a friend, I told her loud and clear- “I thought you might like this and that but please I respect you too much to say you have to have it. You and your husband are the keepers of your home and you get to decide what comes in.” She took 3 things and I put the rest back into my car to drop off at a donation station. I just wish I had stuck to respect and wish lists long ago especially with my two young adults. I’m so sorry I overburden them with so much.

  • Anne says:

    Thank you! I often feel somewhat abused or neglected due to my attempts at giving. Now I see it so much more clearly! This post was so timely!

    • Becca says:

      Wow, so many things to unpack here! I’ve just realized that I’ve been that person who is overwhelmed receiving gifts and now I understand why. For a couple years now I’ve wished gift giving could just go away. Let’s just spend time together, dinner out or an event. I hate the whole I spent too much/little on them, than they did on me. Or worse get them something they didn’t need or want. I over analyze and stress about something that should be joyous. I’ve also been jealous of the friend that doesn’t give gifts and doesn’t think twice about it. At the same time I can be jealous of the generous person who gifts with glee! I’m a mess.

      I do appreciate your generosity with your readers though! I took your advice and am sitting on my new blue couch and I love it. Always look forward to your posts, so thank you!

  • Päivi Aalto says:

    GOOD post! Love You.

  • Ana Maria Suarez says:

    Maria, you are obviously a person interested in self awareness & growth. (something unusual as you know not everyone is) I read it and in some cases this rings true for me, especially in the past. As I have grown older I tend to offer things less often simply as a knee jerk reaction and usually after a bit of evaluation of the person and the motive. Sometimes the person may feel a sense of discomfort or power play, that’s true. So examining the true motive is paramount. In the end though, the act of selfless giving is in large part a rare attribute, especially in this time of toilet paper and sanitizer hording! Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are amazing.

  • Cyndia says:

    Ah Maria, this is such a powerful and sensitive post. I so appreciate you showing your vulnerability here. Over-giving is something I’ve been guilty of, and I’m trying very hard not to be that way so much.

    My first hard lesson that I was over-giving was when my brother had his first child. I was completely in love with my nephew and I showered him with gifts. Now my brother was in a bad financial situation and so I “helped” by buying and giving my nephew things that I felt he needed, but I did so without asking his parents. When he was a toddler, he had outgrown the baby bed and the parents weren’t able to afford a larger bed for him at the time. You guessed it- Auntie bought him one. Now I’m known for my vintage furniture finds so it wasn’t a big deal for me to do it, but it pushed my brother over the edge. He barely spoke to me for several years after that, and I lost almost all contact with him and my nephew. I gave it some serious thought and realized that my aunt used to do the same thing with me, and I had resented her assumption that she knew more about what I needed/wanted than I did, and that she was lording her money over me. She wasn’t, but that’s how I felt. When I came to understand that’s how my behavior made my brother feel, I stopped. I now only give moderate presents for birthdays and Christmas, and I ask the parents for their opinions first. It has made a huge difference in our relationship, and has put us on a more equal keel.

    I still tend to give too much to friends, and a lot of it IS my time and energy, rather than things. For instance, a friend was suddenly widowed in the midst of her home renovation. I stepped in and helped with the management, and the decorating, and, and, and… she was very grateful and now several years later is moving into another home. My urge is to jump in with both feet and “help”, but I stepped back and said “I’m here if you need anything, but I’m going to let you tell me what/if you need.” And now I’m going to do my best not to overcommit my energy and time that would be better spent on my own work.

    I think what has helped me most is to step back and think about what the other person would think about my “gift”. Is it something they’ve expressed they needed or wanted? Would they be happy to receive it or would it be uncomfortable for them? I do this especially with my daughter. And when I do give to anyone I give with no expectations than they will keep it or do away with it. Hard lessons all.

  • Marla says:

    Wow, you surely don’t have time to read all these comments!?

    In my family, in reference to my mother’s over-giving, we called it BUYING OUR LOVE.

    I say the best giving you can do is to actually LISTEN to what others are saying. Let them talk, and listen to them.

  • Leona Piro says:

    Your transparency is refreshing. We spend all our lives getting to know ourselves.

  • CindyW says:

    This brought me to tears. Seems we have similar traits. Not only am I not comfortable as a receiver , and I am way too much a giver, your brief statement of having anger incident hit me between the eyes. I am new to your blog, so have not read the “Italy ” event , but on occasion a particular situation will really get to me and I speak before I think – started to occur after age 50! My reasoning is that as we age as women, we become invisible, maybe for me feel less “worthy” – tolerating, tolerating, then boom- can’t take any more and the words come out!
    Any way – bless you – like you, I am a work in progress trying to improve. Merry Christmas!

  • Intersecting, thoughtful and good for thought…as always Maria! Thanks for keeping it real.


    Thank you for this post and for being so transparently introspective. I learned a lot here. If you can imagine it, I learned a while back that I even expected repayment from God, when giving my life and time to a Christian Mission project. I was guilty of something very similar to your reasons one and two. It took me a while to realize it, though.
    On the flip side, I used to have a hard time accepting things from others—especially compliments. Until someone told me being unwilling to accept a gift, or help, or (whatever) robs the other person of the joy of giving. So this coin is two-headed. I remember that now when faced with accepting or refusing generosity. I love your posts and look forward to them!

  • Hi Maria, thank you so much for this! Have you ever read about the 5 Love Languages? It helps figure out how different types of gift giving is different for different people and reaches them in a specific way that feeds what they need. Words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch are the categories that seem to encompass most people. Quality time and physical touch are two of two of my Love Languages.
    I really love how you are keeping it real here my friend! Thank you very much! Sending big love and Best wishes to you and Terreeia for a beautiful Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Jan says:

    This is me! Thank you for a very insightful post, especially at this time of year….I’ve been told by my adult children that I give them too much, but never thought it could possibly push them away until reading your post.
    I had already decided to “dial back” a bit with gift giving this year and when I mentioned this to some of the family members, I heard “Good! I’m up for that! – you always do too much Mom!”

    It is never easy to open up and be honest with yourself to others, especially when you think your giving is helpful to others. Thank you for sharing some very personal thoughts with all of us.
    Happy holidays to you and your family! And wishing all a safe and blessed 2021!

  • Karen says:

    Wow Maria! What a courageous and insightful post. I admire your willingness to be authentic…and vulnerable. I have definitely fallen into this trap myself … It’s a lot easier to be the giver than the receiver, at least for me. And there can, unwittingly, be an imbalance of power in these situations with the giver having the power. Another reminder for me (I need a lot of them sometimes😏) to leave my ego at the door and do a little soul searching re. motivation before automatically being the “giver” . Thank you…and a very Merry Christmas to you and Terreia!!

  • Ann says:

    Hi Maria, I stumbled across your posts fall of 2019 when I purchased a condo and was repainting everything. A couple of months in I realized a new construction condo I had previous ruled out was still calling my name. So, I sold the first condo, and was back in the decorating decision game again. This time starting from scratch. Prior to these condos I owned 4 homes, 3 of which I built, and am at the stage of life where I have downsized. That is all background to explain how reading you posts, and looking forward to it, became part of my routine. I have learned so much from you and appreciate the insight from your own life you share. You really open yourself up and I think that is wonderful.
    On the gift topic, many years ago I started saying “a gift can be a burden”. I realized it when gifts I received became a burden and, despite good intentions, I have given gifts that were a burden to the recipient. I too love giving gifts and put a lot of thought into my selections. You are reminding me to remind myself to be careful not give burdens :).
    The gift of your posts is definitely not a burden. I hope you keep writing, teaching, and sharing from the heart. Thank you!! Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    P.S. My condo looks fabulous!

  • Kristine C. says:

    Very interesting and honest post, Maria. It’s given me a lot to think about, especially since I have several over-giver family members in my life. I value their generosity and learned to receive their gifts with appreciating and thanks without feeling guilty about not reciprocating one-for-one. However it’s so frustrating when they push away my gifts or acts of service unless repeatedly strong-armed. I finally found a way to explain to my MIL that she had to accept a gift from us. I asked her if she felt joy when giving us a gift, and when she said yes, I explained that we would like the chance to feel that same joy in giving her a gift. It worked!

  • Lorri says:

    I’ll just say this, Maria. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

    I think I feel guilty about having something nice if I perceive someone else doesn’t have it. And I know this is crazy because I’m not talking about poor people. These are people who could easily go out and get whatever it is that I have. I just have a strong sense of never wanting to see the pain of jealousy in someone else’s eyes.

    My secondary motive is kinda awful, but sometimes I think I can give them something that is in better taste than their own taste. That’s a fine line because often the person is actually grateful to receive something beautiful, but sometimes they just truly have different taste than me.

    It’s a real brain twister for sure. I’m so glad you brought this up because some of us need to recover!!!! Ha ha ha.

    • Lorri says:

      And here’s something truly ironic. I once had a boss who was an over-giver in the extreme. She was constantly buying me little presents and putting them on my desk. I didn’t really enjoy that.

      Maybe I need to remember how it made me feel and not do that to others.

    • Lorri says:

      I just remembered another factor. I’ve been told all my life by multiple people that I give the best gifts, and that they can tell I really put thought into matching the gift to the recipient. Those compliments probably drove me to keep up my reputation and outdo myself as time went on. Not really healthy!

  • Julie Greiner says:

    Brilliant post, thanks so much for your honesty! I will re-read and ponder at length on my inclinations. I enjoy your blog very much. Happiest of holidays to you and yours!

  • Katherine says:

    Despite being an avid follower of yours for several years I never knew you have a temper. So do I! Lol I missed the story of you losing your temper in Italy. Bummer! I’ve learned so much from you and just in time to make great choices on my bathroom remodel almost 3 years ago. I love reading everything you share with us. Merry Christmas!

  • Karin says:

    Thank you for being honest and boldly sharing your heart. Interesting thinking how all types of giving can have self serving motives. I was feeling sucky today because i don’t have cards or gifts for people this holiday. I am the most “ungenerous” person. It’s because gifts are not my love language. Although they are sometimes nice (fine bottle of champagne!), they are more often an irritant because either I now have to figure out what to do with yet another candle – or sometimes feel a need to reciprocate with extravagance. It’s important to realize gifts may be someone else’s love language and I need to be sensitive to who needs that. HOWEVER I CAN ALWAYS USE ANOTHER LAMP!!!!!

  • C. THOMAS says:

    A very wise teacher has explained to me that we must learn to be both the giver and the receiver.
    I find that it takes a great deal of humility for me to be the receiver. I am learning to express my gratitude to the giver.
    For we all know that it truly is More Blessed to Give than to Receive. When I encounter an over giver I can now lovingly
    say, will you please allow me to be the giver this time and let you be the receiver? I have read a precious Chicken Soup
    for the Soul book on Forgiveness. Very sweet and inspiring. I recommend it to anyone who may still have family members
    or friends they are not speaking to.

  • Lorri says:

    Someone once asked me to hold “good thoughts” about them winning the lottery. People, I cringed so hard because I didn’t want them to win. I was financially strapped at the time, and knew this person would attempt to give me some of the winnings AND try to control my life in the process. I wanted no part of that situation.

  • Erica Fay says:

    I have been receiving and enjoying your blog for many years now. I am not only a semi-retired renovation and interior designer, I am a UU lay minister and an ordained Buddhist minister.

    The idea of giving and receiving comes up often. I have come to see it as the reciprocation in constant motion within nature. The rain will fall when it is able to, the moisture will rise when it is there. Receiving is as important as giving, but it’s often overlooked. Would it help to step back and open to what comes to you? A ray of sunlight or someone’s smile. Feel gratitude for all of it. I suspect that in time you will come to a place of peace with this.

    May this season bring joy.
    With love, Erica

  • Anthea says:

    Oh my goodness, I am such an over-giver. I just the other day found myself researching how to send an expensive coffee machine to my friend on another continent, just because I love mine so much. When I thought about it, I figured she would be embarrassed receiving such a large gift, even though I really want her to have it. Because I love my coffee machine so much I simply want others to experience the same joy. It is a hard line to draw, being generous and an over giver.
    (On another note, I am so glad I got my large painted colour boards and I gave the painter all my colours for my new house at last. Now I can rest!)

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing your personal issues regarding giving and recognizing the need for change. I have been on the receiving end of someone who is an over giver. She used to be my best friend. What I realized about her over time was that she gave gifts and time, not out of personal satisfaction, but rather for the recognition and accolades. If she gave something to or did something for someone, they were expected to publicly thank and praise her! I had a particularly low time in my life when I just needed her to listen and she wasn’t capable of emotionally supporting me. Every conversation we had was 5 minutes about me and 55+ minutes about her, her family and various people I didn’t know. I always felt worse after speaking with her and I eventually realized that our relationship was superficial. The over giving and expectation of return favors and recognition was excessive. For example, at birthday lunches where she was the guest of honor, SHE gave everyone in attendance a thank you gift for coming. It felt like the lunch we had just treated her to and the collective gift we gave were cancelled out by the money she spent on the gifts for us. Once, she ruined a girls weekend by getting mad because she wasn’t thanked enough for planning it (to be honest, she over planned our time and we would rather have gone with the flow). It was that event that made me realize she was doing things for others for how it made her feel to be recognized, not how it made her feel for doing something nice out if the goodness of her heart.

  • Barb J. says:

    Wow, this is definitely a keeper post to digest again after the new year. I’ve read every comment. One suggestion I’ll throw out. I was always the first person to get my Christmas cards sent, December 1. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed every year about the number of cards I needed to personally write, and I wondered if other people felt the same but were sending me a card because I sent one first. Last year before Christmas I sent friends and family an email telling them I was downsizing my card list and not going to be sending cards to the people I talk to and am on Facebook with because I am able to keep up with their lives and families. It was amazing how many people thanked me and said they wanted to do the same. I still send cards throughout the year to elderly people who are not on social media because I know how important receiving mail is to them. I know elderly people who read the same cards over and over. My mom did.

  • priscilla says:

    wow, maria, there’s a lot of meat to digest in this post and comments! Thank you for this post.

    i had an over-giving mother-in-law who not only over-gave but demanded that you give her a list of things from which she could choose. she was not a particularly pleasant woman, and always bought EVERYTHING on the list. and if she didn’t like your list because the items weren’t extravagant enough, you had to write another list for her approval. then, you had to go purchase everything yourself and give her receipts and she’d hand you a wad of cash.

    don’t get me started! she passed away in august at 99, and i feel terrible that all i’m thinking of this week is, thank god i won’t have to do that anymore.

    resentment to the nth degree.

    anyway, lots of good stuff here, i only have one more thing to say. your quelling over-ging attempts don’t include us, do they? 😉 because we really DO appreciate the sharing of your particular gifts.

    happy holidays to you, your family and all your non-resentful readers. xo

  • Kristin says:

    Dear Maria, Thank you for your beautiful transparency. That’s exactly where I believe our world is headed. Self awareness and self love UP and facades and negative self talk down. I love that you care enough about yourself to investigate and that you care enough about others to share. And by the same token … I love that you care enough about others to investigate and that you care enough about yourself to share.

  • Candice Hill says:

    Hi, Maria…Loved this, I learned so much, from you and your wonderful readers! Thank you for always being yourself! You’re still a shining star!! Love ya! 😁

  • Brenda H. says:

    Oh, my. Maria, you are brilliant. I am a card-carrying, lifetime member of the Over Givers Club. “Wanting to be appreciated or loved.” Bingo! I’m not sure where or how it started (my upbringing/parents’ rocky marriage and late divorce?), but I’m in your camp. I definitely have the Disease to Please on top of it all. I am a mom and was a “stay-at-home” mom (I truly HATE that term along with “full-time” mom–I rarely “stayed home,” and I know all moms are “full time” even if they have paid employment.). I think I’m always trying to compensate beyond my role as a mother. Your keen perception goes far beyond color. Thank you for, once again, helping me “see.” Best always.

  • Shara says:

    Hello Maria,
    Thank you for speaking on this topic. I found it insightful, because I have several over-givers in my life. It’s nice to learn new things about yourself and grow in understanding of others. I’m curious if you have ever taken the Enneagram test? I have read several books on the subject and have found learning about various personalities helpful in understanding others, as well as myself. Happy New Year.

  • Ak says:

    Giving to others, whether it’s material things, money,time, etc., when the motives are right, is a blessing. I think when we’re blessed we should be a blessing to others. Of course we can only control ourselves and it’s a shame some people can’t receive the gift. (Including you! 🙂 Receive the blessings from others!) Sadly there are lots of people in the world that give with strings attached and for many other reasons. I can see where some might question,
    over analyze, and end up unhappy like you mentioned above. I disagree with the quote,

    “Never give anyone more than they are emotionally capable of receiving, or they will have no choice but to hate you for it.”

    I get what it’s saying but I think that’s awful. They do have a choice. If they were to hate then there’re some things in them that need worked out.

    This was a good, thought provoking post.

  • Megan says:

    I encourage you to read about an Enneagram type two if you haven’t already because this is your enneagram personality. I think you will be delighted with what you find. The enneagram type 2 is the giver and the enneagram helps you see yourself taking on these patterns and by becoming aware of them you are able to let them go and be the authentic version of yourself.

    I am an Enneagram type 4 and the 4 goes to 2 (giver) under stress so I understand what you are describing!

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