I'm an extremely generous person. Always have been. A "here take the shirt off my back" kind of person. "Oh you like it? Take it!" kind of person. I give freely and willingly and feel happier for doing it. Nothing makes me happier than making other people happy.
I’m also an extremely open person. I’ve never had a problem with sharing my situation or experiences with others; especially if it will be helpful. I’ve always been liberal about the information about myself I’m willing to share with others.
Like I said, I’ve always been like this. It’s one of my favourite things about myself and it makes up for some of my less-than-stellar qualities. But it hasn’t always been a good thing. See in the past my generosity caused me some problems. When I was younger I gave freely and indiscriminately and I would keep giving until I had nothing left. It didn’t matter whether the giving was to my own detriment. It didn’t matter that the recipient was nowhere near as generous to me as I was to him. I gave and I gave and I gave. And then I gave some more.
The great thing about giving is that it feels great. People say that it feels better than receiving and I’ve always found that to be true.
Except when it comes to head, but that’s another post for another day. But the problem is that no matter how good our intentions are, no matter how generous the spirit in which we give, no matter how big of a high we initially feel when we make someone else happy, if we constantly give and constantly get nothing in return we’re gonna end up pissed off.
It’s a sad fact of life, but it’s true. Even the most generous person expects something in return for what they give. Think about it – have you ever given someone something and they didn’t say thank you? Or didn’t react at all? It’s annoying right? Or when you give someone something and they waste it – you get a little mad. Or what about when you constantly give to someone and the one time you need something from them you don’t get it? It’s frustrating and it kinda makes you regret giving so freely, doesn’t it? Giving is all well and good, but if you never get anything in return your coffers soon end up empty and all you have left is resentment.
But since we can’t control what other people do with what we give them, there’s only one thing we can do. Draw a line. As giving as your spirit might be, you have to save something for yourself. That way no matter what happens after you give, you’re never depleted. You never feel like your needs are being unmet.
How to draw a line is probably the best thing I ever learned. But it’s not easy. When your natural inclination is to give away everything you have, it’s hard as shit to force yourself to keep something. But it is so key. So key. When you save enough for yourself, you don’t have to worry about what becomes of what you gave away. It doesn’t affect you. When you make sure your needs are met, you don’t have to rely on the recipients of your generosity to sustain you. You’re good.
It’s easier said than done of course. Those of us with the need to please know that guilt is a motherfucker. That horrible sick feeling that washes over you when someone asks for something and you say no is hard as hell to deal with. Fighting the urge to volunteer to inconvenience yourself to help someone else takes herculean effort. But it’s a necessary evil.
Like I said, I’m a generous person. But I learned the hard way that sometimes I have to squelch the urge to give and say no. I’ve learned that it’s up to me to carve off what I need for myself and refuse to share that no matter what. Because no matter how indebted someone is to me, no matter how much I’ve given in the past, I really can’t count on anyone else to make sure my needs are met. That’s my job. And if I don’t do it, everyone else lives lovely off my generosity while I’m left in a world of hurt.
So here’s my free tip of the day to you: be generous. Generosity is a beautiful thing. Give freely and lovingly. But carve off what you need for yourself first. Draw a line and say you can have everything else, but this shit right here is for me and you can’t have it.
What say you guys? Do you agree that we need to set limits on generosity? Or do you think we should give until we have nothing left? Speak on it in the comments.