My Father said that there are two kinds of people in this world: Givers and Takers. The Takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better. – Marlo Thomas
Let’s be real – giving and receiving is an art form! Here’s a question for you – when the last time you gave to someone and didn’t feel resentful or burnt out afterwards? Or, when’s the last time you did a good deed for someone with no motivation attached? Giving and receiving presents so many opportunities for getting our toes stepped on and our feelings hurt. Hey, I’ll admit there have been plenty of times that I’ve walked away from a give/take situation where I felt more than a little salty!
So, why is it so hard?
Because most of us were never taught. Or we were taught the wrong way. Giving and receiving is not taught in school like English or History. It’s something we learn in our family of origin – largely by watching the actions of others around us.
If our parents or caretakers weren’t raised with a full “toolbox” by their people, you can see how things can get pretty bungled in just a couple of generations! (Myself included here.) If we don’t have good examples…well…you gotta figure it out as an adult!
Our early programming combined with our unique personality styles are what influence what side of the give and take spectrum we fall on. They can also influence the degree to which we are capable of ‘healthy’ giving and receiving in our relationships – from our business to your personal life.
Don’t worry, there is always room for growth! And it all starts with awareness.
“Givers” and “Takers”
As you may have read in my previous blog posts, I’m someone who has always been highly sensitive and attuned to the needs of others. I’ve been a caretaker from an early age. My tendency is to fall on the side of giving too much, and, if I’m not careful, burning out. Other’s with different experiences and personality types might fall on the side of being a more self-centered taker.
Both givers and takers at the extreme can really be a pain in the ass! At their worst, takers can be energy vampires, while givers can be bitter martyrs. Trust me, you don’t want to spend two minutes in a room with either of these. Yikes.
Luckily, there is a happy medium. A balance of give and take and a way to give and receive in healthy ways that aren’t destructive of yourself or others. But, before we talk about that, I want to break down a quick profile of “givers” and “takers”.
Do you know which one you are?
At their best, givers are people who approach life in terms of what they can contribute, rather than what they can get. They see themselves as part of a whole, a fellow among fellows. They give without expectations or strings attached. Energetically, givers are filled with positivity, they’re solution-focused, they always leave you feeling invigorated. An evolved giver also knows their limits, how to take care of themselves, and can receive.
At their worst, givers can over give and neglect their own needs. They sacrifice themselves for others so that they harm themselves emotionally or physically and become exhausted and resentful. At the far end of the spectrum, they become martyrs and highly codependent people pleasers.
If you’ve even been around someone like this, you know it’s not good juju. Am I right?! People who give compulsively and dysfunctionally can be just as draining and uncomfortable to be around as extremely narcissistic takers. Ultimately, they can be really hard to trust, because they are tricky chameleons always changing their colors to try and please whoever is in front of them.
At their best, takers are not “takers” at all, but skilled receivers of abundance. They have a positive sense of self and self esteem, believing that they deserve good things. They don’t feel ashamed or bad for receiving from others, whether it be time, energy, money, or love. They also know when and how to give back.
At their worst, takers are selfish and entitled people, steamrolling over others to snatch whatever they can out of life. They are manipulative, with very poor respect for the boundaries of others. They are in the habit of using people and only forming ‘relationships’ with people for their own benefit. They are also frequently blissfully “unaware” that they are a TAKER, lacking the ability to self reflect or admit wrong. Hellllooooo massive ego! At the far end of the spectrum, they are energy vampires who suck the oxygen from a room.
Trust your Gut
Be aware, that toxic takers aren’t always blatantly negative. They can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Keep your eyes peeled. Trust your gut and your feelings. If someone makes you feel icky, listen to that. Don’t ignore it. The same goes for highly codependent people-pleasers.
Remember, certain people affect others differently too. Someone might drain you, while not bothering a friend or colleague of yours. It’s OK to be true to yourself and set boundaries even if others don’t share your same feelings.
Healthy Giving and Receiving
Ok, now for the hard part! Remember, I’m not a psychologist. (Lol.) BUT, I have worked directly with hundreds of people as a coach and consultant and raised three kids to adulthood. Add on top of that a screwed up childhood with extreme givers and takers as “role models”… whooaa! Some days, I feel like my experience over the last 20 + years as a mom and entrepreneur has been like a real life PhD. in the workings of human behavior and emotional intelligence. Trust me, I’ve seen it all, OK?!
So, in my opinion, one of the biggest things when it comes to healthy giving and receiving is acceptance. Start at square one and accept, whole heartedly, the person you are dealing with. What I mean by this is see them for the WHOLE of who they are, not just what you want them to be and not just what they project to you. You can’t change them. All you can do is choose whether or not you want to interact with them. (OK, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of that choice!!) But if you must engage with them, accept them for who they are. Not who you want them to be. This involves paying attention to what kind of person they are. Are they a giver or a taker?
Second, you need some rules of engagement, based on the type of person they are, and you are.
Rules of Engagement
When dealing with givers, ask yourself: are you depositing back in? Are you taking advantage of the relationship? Are they being a martyr (not able to receive)? Are you expressing gratitude and respect? Do you want what they are trying to give you? (It’s OK to say NO, thanks.)
When giving to others, ask yourself the same questions. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you being true to yourself? Are you over-giving? What is your real intention in giving? Do you have expectations? Are you trying to force something?
When dealing with takers, learn to set firm boundaries and protect yourself. Take care of yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we are tired or not functioning at our best, it is easier to be swayed by manipulative, pushy people. Practice having tough conversations with someone in your support network first, if it’s hard for you. Sentences like “I need to think about that, I’ll get back to you…” work magic!
When practicing receiving, check yourself. If you struggle receiving or taking from others, ask yourself why this is? Do you feel worthy? If taking is comfortable for you, check to make sure you are keeping things balanced. Look for places to give back and opportunities to be of service, even if it is not directly to the person who you are receiving from. When I was learning to receive, someone asked me: “You know that feeling, when you give to someone, it feels good right? Who are YOU to not allow someone else to give and experience that good feeling?” This question has lived in my soul since. It’s a total game changer.
We all go through ups and down where we may need to take more (for instance in a time of illness or intense change) so don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s OK to need help and to receive it with gratitude. Someday, you will be able to pay it forward.
If you struggle with receiving, check out this article. Personally, I’ve had to really practice learning to receive and keep the door open to abundance. It does get easier the more you practice.
The Benefits of Giving
Finally, I want to leave you with a little food for thought. I stumbled upon this Ted Talk by Canadian happiness researcher (yes, that’s her real job!) Elizabeth Dunn.
I know giving makes me happy. Side note: I happen to loooooove giving gifts. Slight brag, I’m known by friends and clients for being a badass gift giver who remembers obscur details like your secret love of hot sauce or cats. Anyways, giving has always brought me joy, but I didn’t fully understand why. Or how when I’d give in certain situations, it wouldn’t feel as fulfilling as it did at other times.
In her Ted Talk, Elizabeth explains that how we give matters when it comes to experiencing the joy of giving. We feel happiest giving when we feel a real sense of connection with the people we are giving to and can see that we are making a real difference in their lives. When giving, the goal should be to experience our shared humanity.
Now this is something that resonates with me! It explains why I love the work I do so much. As a business coach, I get to really connect on a deep level with those I work with. I get to see first hand the results in my client’s lives and how their growth creates a positive ripple effect in their family and community. THAT is a gift!
Want to learn more about how I can help you grow in your business? Get in touch with me.