Giving to others can be one of the most fulfilling experiences in life, or it can be one of the most draining. What makes the difference?
The difference has to do with WHY you are giving to others.
Giving From A Full Heart
We are not giving to get anything back because we don’t need anything back. We don’t need anything back because we have taken 100% responsibility for loving ourselves – for thinking the loving thoughts and taking the loving actions that make us feel worthy, lovable, peaceful and joyful within.
When I am giving from a full heart I don’t need others to give me approval for giving. The giving is its own reward, as long as I am certain that my giving is loving to myself and others. My fulfillment is not dependent upon others’ approval, but on how I feel about myself. I am receiving fulfillment from being the kind of person I value.
When I am taking loving care of myself, I’m not available to being used or drained by others. If I feel that others are latching on to me like a vampire and trying to suck the life out of me, then I lovingly disengage, as my primary intent is to be loving to myself – and it is not loving to myself to allow myself to be used and drained. It is loving to me to fulfill myself through giving to others, as long as this feels good inside. If it doesn’t feel good, then it isn’t loving – either to me or to others. Giving to others who just want to take is enabling them to continue to avoid responsibility for themselves. It is not loving to me or them to support them in being needy victims.
It is loving to me to give to others who utilize what I give them to heal, learn and grow. It is incredibly fulfilling to help others who genuinely want to help themselves, but it is draining to give to others who have no intention of helping themselves.
If you are giving from a full heart but you feel drained in the giving, this is telling you that you are enabling someone rather than being loving to yourself and to them.
Giving From An Empty Heart
When you are not taking responsibility for your own self-worth, inner peace and joy, then there is likely an emptiness within you. When you give from an empty place, you may feel drained rather than fulfilled in the giving.
You might want to see if you identify with either of these reasons for giving to others:
- Are you giving to get attention, approval, validation, time or sex?
When this is the case, you are giving to get, rather than giving from a full heart. Others may feel pulled at and manipulated by your giving, and may pull back. Your giving may feel controlling and invasive and they may withdraw and go into resistance, not wanting to connect with you. You might end up feeling resentful and drained in your giving.
- Have you been taught that you are a good person only when you are sacrificing yourself – giving yourself up to giving to others? Are you giving out of fear, obligation or guilt?
You may be giving to get others to see you as a good person, rather than giving from a full heart, where you have already defined yourself as a good person. When you do this, you have abandoned your responsibility to define your own goodness and worth, and you are making others responsible for your definition of your sense of worth. This kind of giving will never lead to fulfillment.
When you learn how to take full responsibility for your own feelings of worth, peace and joy, then giving to others who can benefit from your giving will be one of the most joyful of life’s experiences.
By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.