Is Your Generosity Sabotaging You?

Via on Apr 20, 2012
leaf in hand 2

Growing up and through my 20s, I was the kind of person who liked to give—a lot.

In fact, I often gave so much that my parents, teachers and friends would really question me on it or even get mad at me. And, I was often giving to people who didn’t reciprocate at the same level. In the back of my head, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t really know what it was yet.

Then I learned that for me, giving was a survival mechanism. I didn’t feel capable of doing things all on my own, so I felt dependent on others for help. I gave to them in hopes of getting back whatever I needed. This was happening all over the place for me—with family and friends, in work situations, and even in day-to-day exchanges with strangers. Traditionally, this is called co-dependence, and while that label absolutely fits, what really helped me was to understand that I felt giving was the only way to survive, even when it started to feel bad.

Others give from survival-based places, also. For some, survival depends on doing what they “should” or on trying to make everything and everyone around them OK. If you’re not one of these people, you probably know someone who is. They might say things like:

“It’s not about me. I just want whatever you want.”

“Oh, I don’t need anything. As long as my family (or significant other or friend) has what they need, I’m fine.”

“I don’t even have time to think about what I need. I have to take care of all the people who will fall apart unless I help them.”

All of these survival mechanisms are based on burying one’s own wants and needs. That seems ok—it’s better to give than receive, selflessness is a virtue, etc, right?

These are nice ideas, but when giving is based on denying one’s own wants and needs, it ultimately falls apart.

A tree is a great example of what I’m talking about. Trees give oxygen, shade, beauty. But they can only do so when they sustain themselves first. And, they have everything they need within them to do that. They draw what they need from their own roots and leaves. They’re not grabbing onto the leaf of another tree to get what they need or tending to all the other trees in the forest, instead of themselves. That would be ridiculous, but it is exactly what so many of us have tried to do.

We, too, have our own roots and leaves, and they draw from our well-being and uniqueness, the energy that can sustain us and provide what we’re here to share with the world. But, our access to well-being gets cut off. Early in life, we absorb the feeling that “there is something wrong with me being just the way that I am.” As this negative feeling becomes embedded in our sense of “how it is to be human,” we feel that we need something outside of ourselves in order to survive.

So, we feel dependent on getting other people’s help, or on making everything the way it “should be,” or on everyone around us being ok. We operate that way as long as we can, but at some point, our energy gets depleted and that survival mechanism stops working. Our leaves shrivel up and turn brown, and we have no oxygen or shade left to give.

When I begin to talk with clients about removing layers of the feeling that “there’s something wrong with me,” they’re sometimes afraid that they’ll lose their generous nature. But that isn’t the case at all. When your roots and leaves tap into your well-being, you have a much more abundant place from which to give. Generosity feels completely different—freer, easier, more joyous and completely sustainable. Your natural well-being is a bottomless well, so your ability to give in a way that nourishes you and benefits others just keeps flowing.

Have you ever felt like giving was depleting you? Have you ever felt that your survival depended on giving in some way, even if it felt like too much?

I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments.

~

Editor Tanya L. Markul

About Sara Avery

Sara Avery’s passion is helping people uncover the energy that creates their story and the uniqueness of who they really are. In 2001, she transitioned from her first career as an orchestral violinist to guiding people through the deep transformation of Quanta Change. Quanta Change identifies Learned Distress (the feeling that “there is something wrong with me” absorbed in the womb and early in life) as the source of non-well-being. This unique process works with your brain during sleep to permanently remove layers of Learned Distress, allowing your natural well-being to become the source from which your life is generated. Sara’s clients discover a new ease and joy in life that they’ve never experienced—in emotional, spiritual, and physical realms. One client said, “I’ve been seeking for 40 years, and this is by far the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” Learn more on her website or read more from Sara on her blog. Or, connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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4 Responses to “Is Your Generosity Sabotaging You?”

  1. Jasmine says:

    I feel like I give to much, too often. Thanks for writing this! I am at a place right now where I am having trouble discerning from standing up for myself, and being a bully. I don't like to hurt others feelings, but I don't like being such a push over. I feel like I could easily stand up for myself because I can be quick witted and have a lazer sharp tounge, but at the same I don't want to over do it, so I tend to do nothing at all.

    • Sara Avery Sara Avery says:

      Hi Jasmine,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I know exactly what you mean. I have a future blog post coming about what you're saying, actually. It's something I've been talking a lot about with my clients in the past couple of weeks – that choice between two places, which I've been calling "powerless" and "power over." And neither of those really works, I don't believe. One doesn't honor you, one doesn't honor anyone else. What I've seen is that there is a third option, which I would call "power coming through." You could say that it is your higher self or soul power coming through you, and because that is the part of you that is connected with everything else, it is naturally and automatically something that works for everyone, benefits everyone. I'll probably put that blog here in a week or two, on my own site just a little sooner.
      Thanks, again! Sara

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