The Act of Giving Without Giving Too Much

giving too much

Today’s big idea is that, while giving is often energizing, there are definitely times when giving too much is draining. Or even upsetting. It can leave you feeling taken advantage of, or unappreciated. And that doesn’t feel good. 

In addition, sometimes giving too much can make the person you’re trying to give to feel bad–micromanaged, or like you think they aren’t capable. 

So today, let’s figure out how to keep giving in the realm of feeling good. Yesterday’s guest, Damon Brown, touched on this idea, too, so be sure to check out him on episode 494 if you want more. 

Listen to the Podcast Here

So, let’s say a friend asks if you can help them move

or a friend of a friend, or a total stranger–asks if they can pick your brain about something. Here’s something you can do before you say yes to determine if this is a good match: 

Pause for just a minute and ask, why am I doing this? 

Here’s what you don’t want to hear–It’s nice to be needed, I want to be nice, or they could really learn something from me. These are reasons to give that are more about appeasing your ego, and not necessarily being generous. Let’s say, it’s performative. And that doesn’t feel good to you, or to the person you’re trying to help. 

What you do want to hear has two parts

I think I can help, AND  it’s a good match for what I have to offer. Because there has to be more to it than you’re a warm body. 

It also helps to take a moment after you’ve done the generous thing to just feel how you feel. If the giving was a good match for you, you will likely feel pretty darn good. You might have a zing of energy, or a sense of happiness or gratitude at truly being able to have helped someone else. 

But if you feel anything negative– such as sad, spent, or resentful, it’s time to pull back from giving too much. Because you want to be able to give with a spirit of generosity. 

Also, sometimes, we can give to the point that we disempower our intended recipient

If you want to be there for your friend who’s going through a tough time, maybe a divorce, and you help them move and pay for their dinners and check in on them frequently, and you keep that up for the long-term, you may actually be dissuading them from getting out there and creating their new life. As just one example. It’s also very easy to overdo for a family member. Of course, we’re all truly in need of support from time to time, but honestly, those times are finite. If your giving continues indefinitely, it can veer into co-dependency. 

Keep in mind that it’s perfectly okay to pitch in at a level that makes sense for you—there are no bonus points for giving till it hurts. If the PTA requires too much of a time commitment, can you share your position or role with another person? If you only have a limited budget for donating, can you make it during a matching grant to make your dollars go further? Or if you can’t make the event, can you share a post on Facebook asking for volunteers? When you find ways to give back that feel good to you, you’ll find more ways to do it.

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to check in with yourself just before and just after the next time you give. See if you can uncover your true intentions before you give, and then check that against how you feel after. This is how you interrupt any sneaky patterns you might have of giving in a self-serving way, and how you reinforce how good it feels to give when it’s the right fit–which will naturally help you do more of it. 

And tomorrow, we’re turning the idea of being generous on its head and talk about owning the ways you might be stingy. Because to truly know a topic, it’s always helpful to look at it from the opposite point of view!


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