The joy of giving is a slogan easily misused by money-making retailers at Christmas time and emotional celebrations like Mother’s and Father’s Day. Simply because these times lend themselves to playing on people’s emotions and guilt feelings.
I have met only a few people in my life, who are too scared to give, probably due to some deeper pain that has dumped them into a fear of loss. I feel sorrow for them because they have not discovered that the act of giving can be a true joy, bringing as much pleasure to the giver as to the receiver.
However, there is such a thing as over-giving – not necessarily of material things but of yourself. Over-givers tend to be poor receivers. They feel happy as long as they can shower others with gifts and assistance, but they are slow to ask for help and do not easily accept gifts or favours from others.
Are you one of those who volunteer before anyone else, even though you know that your schedule cannot take another assignment? Is one of your mantras to “always go the extra mile?” Do your own physical and emotional interests and health, rank lower than your friend’s, when she phones you late at night to share her problems? Then you might just be an over-giver.
Don’t get me wrong. We are here for one another and there is no attribute uglier than self-centredness. But just as you cannot save a person from drowning if you cannot swim, you cannot care for others if you haven’t mastered the skill of caring for yourself first.
Ask yourself why you are giving, materially but also of your time and your energy. Are you giving out of love, or could it be that you have a fear of rejection or of losing your “nice” title, or is giving your way of keeping control of the particular situation? Or are you giving to feel good? Sincere giving is an act of loving but over-giving is dysfunctional.