“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~ Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
I have been completely mesmerized by those words since I read them first at age 11.
I have always wondered what they truly meant, and once I realized my life purpose, they started to make sense. I discovered the utmost joy and satisfaction was in giving to others:
Giving others a safe space to express their deepest fears and daring dreams.
Giving others a reason to smile and to look forward to tomorrow.
Giving others the motivation they need to keep going.
Giving others the appreciation they deserve.
These are a few examples of the type of giving I practice and enjoy, but there are so many other forms that many of us repeat without realising sometimes. Giving can take all shapes and forms but will only be satisfactory when it is done genuinely for the sake of giving only, not as an advance for receiving in return. This is how I feel about giving, and that’s how I try to apply the teachings of Gibran in The Prophet.
Many of us fall into the trap of giving with hopes to receive in return and fail to notice that giving and receiving are not two sides of the same coin. They are separate actions, with a different purpose and a different outcome.
Giving is an art; the giver is the artist and the receiver is the audience. When you make a piece of art, you pour your heart into it, and when you practice the art of giving, you are pouring a piece of your heart in the process.
True giving doesn’t require a return. The giver gets the satisfaction from the act of giving itself.
When you give, you should not ask for a return.
When you receive, you should not ask for more.
Receiving lies at the opposite end of giving where the receiver gets the satisfaction from what they are getting without having to feel obliged to give back.
However, if you are giving for the sake of receiving back and you are unsatisfied with what you receive in return, then the only way to create a balance is to start giving less.
This formula of balancing giving and receiving by offering less, works best in couples’ relationships.
Mostly women suffer from this imbalance, wives and mothers, because they are more giving in nature. Some women assume that by offering more in a relationship that they will be entitled to receive more from their partner, but that rarely works. Moreover, some men may also suffer the same when they give more in the relationship than they receive, and fall in the same give-receive trap.
Maintaining the balance between giving and receiving is essential in relationships to avoid the feeling of under appreciation, as giving in the context of relationships is often more of a trade-off than giving for the sake of giving. When couples and friends realise that at an early stage of their relationship, it can help them make better decisions and avoid disappointments.
Giving that results from a sense of obligation decreases the level of satisfaction for both the giver and the receiver.
Test your Giving trait by asking yourself a few simple questions:
>> Will I be disappointed if I don’t get a return for my giving?
>> Am I giving out of obligation?
>> Am I receiving back what I deserve?
>> Am I feeling satisfied when I give without expecting a return?
If you answer “yes” for questions one and two, and answer “no” for questions three and four, then you are not necessarily interested in giving, you are interested in more of a trade-off.
Trade-offs works best for relationships—and once this term is acknowledged and accepted by both partners—working on the relationship from this perspective can save time, effort and disappointment.