My mother always told me;
“In life, there are givers and there are takers. Be sure you know the difference.”
What is it that motivates people to give? To open themselves up to another, see what they need and fill that gap? Is it their incessant need? To be loved, to be noticed? To fix things? Or is it just because they’re good, selfless to the core?
I was a giver.
Full-hearted no-nonsense giver. I’d give to everyone and everything. It made me feel good. It made me feel important.
Until my heart smashed into a million pieces. The lesson slowed me down.
I’ve since learned that it’s OK to say no. It’s also OK to selflessly give without it paying a price on your heart. It’s knowing the difference. Understanding the intention around what and who we give our energy to and how valuable this it. I’d later learn I was compromising my own integrity for the sake of another. To fit in. To not be alone. Being open and not jaded through the harshness of life is a lesson some of us are always learning. We are all on our own stages of this journey. You can only give to the depth you give to yourself.
Yet, there are those who have unlimited energy stores. Who give unconditionally. No fear in their hearts. Those where giving energizes them. They’re like the sparkly lights of humanity. These are the people that remind us that giving is good.
As a holistic therapist, I see this every-day. The balance of giving to others, to a job, a way of life vs giving to the self. Our cups need replenishing from time to time. This is key. Hearts heal through giving. Hearts also heal when they’re allowed to rest and regroup.
Then are those that will take. Unashamedly.
- The bad boy boyfriend who sucks your energy dry. You give and give, seeking some sort of validation and/or reciprocation. No matter how much you give, you remain invisible. The validation never comes. His needs come first. Power plays are his angle.
- The family member no matter what you do will NEVER happy
- The friend who never shouts you a drink at the pub.
- The friend who you’d doing anything for. Until one day you don’t.
I had a friend once who I supported and admired greatly. I don’t think she ever knew how much I loved and valued her. I don’t think it was ever reciprocated. I’d give. She’d take. One day I complained to my husband, “I’m so over being treated like a doormat.” Only to receive one from her the next day, as a birthday present. A sign from the universe. The friendship changed. I put myself first. Things declined from there.
This is not an uncommon lesson in the giving of life.
Validation and reciprocation is a normal part of our human existence. It’s the natural flow of love and life. Or is it?
Hands up if you’re constantly learning this lesson? Or readjusting the parameters of your heart? Our love and who we give our energy to is of value. If we don’t recognize this and inwardly validate our own self, then we may always feel unseen and unheard.
This is true, none more so that the way mothers give to their children. The penultimate in sacrifice.
Offering their body and life for the responsibility of another. For the role itself. How much to do you give to your kids? Is there such a thing as too much? Motherhood is a fast track in learning about inner boundaries and selfless giving. So many are acknowledging the need to rest and regroup. Giving from an empty cup only leads to a vicious cycle of resentment, and bitterness.
There’s this expectation that Mums are the humans designed to pick up everything and be dumped on. Who said? This is up for serious debate. I for one don’t want my grandkids thinking their Mum’s the shit kicker of the house.
By taking space and putting your needs first from time to time. Allowing the family to witness Mum taking a break, be it a bath, an early night or night out with the girls. Changes the dynamic. It ensures the family knows you’re not a well-oiled machine. Yet a beautiful human soul who’s sensitive too, who also needs a hug from time to time and a cuppa to regroup.
Most importantly it teaches that giving to the self is of utmost importance. Sustainable love is beneficial to everyone.
Then there are those who use their life to make good for those less fortunate.
I call them the Givers and the Shakers. They put themselves front and centre for a cause. Making sure these people or projects are supported to make our world a better place.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to attend an event run by Start Some Good initiative in conjunction with Impact Seed and the City of Perth. 6 local businesses all vying for funding for business projects. All close to their hearts. They were all standouts. They exist on our willingness to give.
Erica Urquiaga from Baked by Erica presented. I connected wholeheartedly to her story. I felt her courageous leap of faith she has taken to create the business she runs today.
Baked by Erica makes the best gooey scrummy cookies that make your heart melt.
Kids can’t operate without food. In truth, none of us can. Seeing a huge gap in her hometown Philippino community. Erica saw that to create a legacy for the future in the Philippines, she needed to change these kids lives. Feeding a tonne of them, so they can learn and launch themselves out of poverty. Something so close to heart. Inspiring to a T. The energy of giving that changes lives.
Is this not what we live for? Is this not our purpose?
Psychology today states: giving makes for continued life satisfaction, lowers blood pressure, activates the neurons in the brain and reduces mortality rates. Giving is actually good for you.
Another project. Project Flanno. Created by two women, Kathryn Laferla and Penny Little both touched by the tragedy of suicide. Their story, connecting everyone in the room. Connected in the knowledge that this is a real issue. A gap in our culture needing to be filled and this is can be one solution.
72% of men who suicide do not reach out for help. The stats are horrendous. Kathryn and Penny are working to make significant changes. 50% of profits, from every Flanno shirt sold, helps to channel funds to projects such as Heartspace and Lifeline. Non-profit agencies who have the capacity to save lives. Educating, changing and supporting our community for the better.
You can check out all the other businesses from this night here and follow their links.
The Essence of Giving
The balance of giving and take is something many strive to achieve. Dreams can take over. Soon to nightmares if they’re at the expense of the self. Giving with expectation can also lead to disappointment and a lifetime of unmet needs.
Knowing the value of what you give and who you give it to is important. Knowing you are of value. Knowing you count.
It’s also the essence of giving at its best.
Use it wisely.
It’s humanly impossible to give give give without taking the time and space to take stock to replenish the heart, mind, and soul.
One thing is for sure the more you give the more your heart expands. The more life becomes a place of wonder and enrichment. It can be sustainable.
Tracy O’Meara Smith is the owner of Silverdale Natural Therapy in the Perth Hills. She’s also a mother, wife, and is in the midst of what feels like a lifelong kitchen renovation.
Why are we doing this thing? Because there’s enough noise in the world telling women what we ‘should’ be doing.
We should parent more consciously, but not be helicopter parents. We should take care of our bodies, but not be vain. We should make boys pay, but demand equal rights. We should dress appropriately, but also be confident in our skin, wear what we want, but not be provocative, oh and please feel comfortable in the world’s skimpiest school bathers but then wear your jeans to the formal because last year the boys looked up the girls’ skirts and so you’ll have to be the ones to modify your behaviour. Yeah. No.
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