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Are You an Overgiver?

woman looking out from pile of giftsThis may be the most controversial thing that I’ve ever written. I know it’s going to strike some chords, not all happy ones.

There’s a phenomenon that’s common among my peeps. Because they are naturally loving, caring, generous people, they’re at risk of this pitfall that can ruin their friendships, empty their bank accounts, and drain all their energy.

All because they repeatedly break one of the Spiritual Laws.

I’m sure that you’ve heard of the most popular Spiritual Law: The Law of Attraction. This is a good one, but it’s not my favorite.

I actually love all the Spiritual Laws. They appeal to my taste for seeing order and purpose in everything. These “laws” are not dos & don’ts like Man’s laws but observations of how the Universe works in harmony with itself. Some people call them “Universal Laws” or “Natural Laws” instead. “Breaking” one of these laws isn’t something that deserves punishment — no Universe Police are going to show up and arrest you — but it does mean that you are acting out of harmony with the Universe. (Which, frustratingly enough, we all have the Free Will to do.)

My favorite is the Law of Request, which says that you will only receive what you’ve asked for. The key is in the word “receive,” which implies not only that someone comes into your presence but that you claim it as your own. You’ll only claim the things that you know you’ve asked for; anything else may be attracted to you, but you’ll let it float by.

The reason that I love the Law of Request is that it sheds light on a problem that’s common to so many of my peeps: Overgiving. Here are some signs that a person might be an overgiver:

  • Feeling unappreciated.
  • Finding herself muttering, “Why did I waste my time doing that for him/her?”
  • Lacking vital personal resources including money, time, stamina, and health.

As Abraham teaches in everything by Esther and Jerry Hicks, bad feelings like these are always a sign that one is not in the natural flow of Joy and Abundance in the Universe.

The flow of Abundance is based on a cycle of giving and receiving: Every time someone is wanting to receive, there is someone else ready to give. This creates a rhythm that keeps love, money, and stuff flowing to where it’s needed.

Overgiving, however, is out of sync with this natural rhythm. An overgiver tries to give when there’s no one ready to receive. She’s not just trying to put a round peg in a square hole; she’s trying to put any shaped peg in no hole.

Being out of sync creates a bad feeling that surfaces as feelings like resentment, regret, and feeling unappreciated. Here are some common habits of an overgiver that instigate these bad feelings:

  • Giving gifts because “I saw this and I thought of you”
  • Offering unsolicited advice
  • Rushing to help someone who hasn’t asked
  • Trying to solve someone else’s problems by giving them money
  • Thinking more about what the other person needs than what you need — even to the detriment of your own needs

I want to stop and honor that anyone who has these habits thinks she’s acting out of love. Generosity is a virtue — to a point. Overgenerosity, however, squanders time, energy, and possibly money.

It’s also an act of control.

How dare I suggest that a giver’s motives are less than noble and loving? Unfortunately, we all act from places in our ego, whether it’s through overgiving or some other habit. The ego’s #1 need is control, based in the fear of what would happen if we let go and went with the flow of the Universe. Where would that flow take us? The ego is afraid to find out. That need for control manifests in countless ways, both aggressive and passive.

Addressing the underlying issues of control may require the help of a healer or counselor; ThetaHealing is my favorite tool for this. What I can offer in the meantime are some suggestions for how to lovingly give in ways that will be lovingly received:

  • Before you give, ask. This gives the intended recipient a chance to open up to receive. It creates a positive energetic connection that supports the whole transaction.
  • Accept a No when it’s given. Giving to someone who has said No has the same (or greater?) potential for rejection as not asking.
  • Discuss giving in advance. Get to know who your friends are who love surprise gifts, and lavish your generosity on them. (Hopefully it’s a two-way relationship and they give to you just as generously.)
  • Redirect your giving to someone who has been asking, such as charities. They could always use the support of your love, money, time, and other resources in order to help the people they serve.

Did I strike a chord? Was it harmonic or dissonant? Post a comment below; I’m ready to receive whatever you have to give.

 

 

Leave a Comment:

10 comments
Katherine Gotthardt says August 27, 2012

“Thinking more about what the other person needs than what you need — even to the detriment of your own needs”

This is a HUGE problem with me that I am actively working on. I burn myself out. I know this is common among care givers and people who work in human services like teaching (and healing, like you do), volunteers and anyone who has been taught to put others first. And I think women especially are taught to give too much, probably because we’re the ones who have traditionally had to care for infants and family.

Brought up in a religious household, I was always taught to turn the other cheek, put others first, don’t be selfish, etc. Excessive giving like this, though, can be really dangerous. Not only can it affect your health and attitude (i.e. physical and spiritual burnout), it can turn you into a real bitch!

As far as giving advice when it isn’t wanted–that is a tough one. When we hear of a problem, we naturally want to fix it, right? Or make people feel better? Isn’t that what caring people do? I’m working on that, too–leaving people’s problems to them if those problems are outside the realm of my responsibility. Unfortunately, with some people, I’ve set a precedent. Once you do that, it’s hard to break.

Throwing money at a problem never works. A problem might be able to be resolved with extra funding, but I prefer specific actions. For example, if a school needs books, I would prefer to buy books or just donate to funds going for books. If a shelter needs beds, I would rather buy beds than give a general donation. I’ve found there are just too many cases where general donations lead to waste. And it’s always better to donate to smaller groups, IMO, so you know the charities aren’t using a lot of money on administration.

There is also something to be said about random acts of kindness. I love leaving big tips for servers at small restaurants, for example. I know these folks don’t earn a lot, and it can really make their day to get a surprise. People did that for me when I worked in food services, and I know how good it made me feel, especially because I needed the money!

This is another great post, Chris! Thank you!

Reply
    Christina Ammerman says August 27, 2012

    “Not only can it affect your health and attitude (i.e. physical and spiritual burnout), it can turn you into a real bitch!”

    LOL, thanks for a Monday morning laugh, Katherine! And of course you’re absolutely right! Don’t become the Burnout Bitch! That belongs on a T-shirt.

    You’ve said a lot of good stuff here. I always love the additional insights you bring to the conversation.

    Yes, absolutely – how we’re brought up has a huge influence on our attitudes toward giving. For every person who was conditioned to “give till it hurts,” there’s another who developed a chronic sense of lack and never gave/gives because there’s not enough to share.

    Giving advice: Can I share how I’ve learned to handle that? I have some key phrases that I use to ask for permission to give the advice; in fact, I just modeled one of them for you. Others include, “Would you like to hear a different perspective?” and “Can I share how I see it?” I don’t think anyone’s ever said No, but if they did I’d respect it and move on. I find that asking permission to give advice creates a huge energy shift for the other person: Not only is she likely to open up to receive the advice, but it also might make her aware that she’d gotten carried away by the story she was telling.

    Random acts of kindness are a beautiful thing. I hope that everyone leaves room for these in their lives, both in giving and receiving. The perfection execution of a RAOK is attachment-free – NOT sticking around to see how it’s received or if anyone notices at all.

    Thanks for your comments, Katherine!

    ~ Christina

    Reply
Kirsten G. says August 27, 2012

Yep, this sure DID resonate with me!!! I am definitely an Overgiver, although through a particular friendship this past year, I have realized that, and taken active steps to change it! I didn’t however, relate it to a control issue, but it makes complete sense!! Now trying to also apply this to my 19 yr. old son who is going through some trials and tribulations as he enters adulthood…..much harder not to Overgive with a child, I have to say! But I’m trying to be aware and make sure I take a step back and let him stand on his own.
Perfect timing of this post….THANKS!! 🙂

Reply
    Christina Ammerman says August 27, 2012

    Hi Kirsten!

    Congratulations on getting awareness of your overgiving and taking steps to shift that energy! I can understand how applying this with your 19 yr. old son can be especially challenging; allowing space for a child to become an adult comes with its own special issues for a mother. The best way to love him is to let him spread his wings.

    Can you share more about the active steps that you’ve taken to change your overgiving?

    ~ Christina

    Reply
Fiona Jansen says August 27, 2012

Christina, your authenticity is a gift and I am grateful that your newsletter is so perfectly timed with what I needed to hear. I now have a new favorite to look forward to.

Reply
    Christina Ammerman says August 27, 2012

    Hi Fiona,

    I receive your gratitude and offer my own to you, for receiving what I have to give and letting me know its value to you. I look forward to having you as a reader, and I hope you’ll post your comments often.

    ~Christina

    Reply
Emily says August 27, 2012

Thanks Chris! I’ve been a victim (sounds kinda harsh but I think it fits here) of overgivers. I’m always surprised when someone offers or gives me something and then EXPECTS something in return or keeps score. When I give, I give because I want to and I let it go. When I was younger it was important that the person at least smiled when I gave to them or that they thanked me. Now, I don’t notice those things. It just feels good to be able to share what I have. Recently I’ve been thinking about this topic because I am practicing asking for help and am noticing that I’m reluctant to because then those who help me may EXPECT something in return…this overwhelms me. I had it come to mind that it may be a “power” issue. I’m a good receiver when the giving comes out of the blue, but not when it comes from my asking…What does the law of asking say about receiving with strings attached?

Reply
    Christina Ammerman says August 27, 2012

    Hi Emily,

    I’m with you on the “victim” end of things. I thought about that while I was writing the article; it might be a follow-up topic in the near future. For now I’ll say that for me, it has a lot to do with being a stubborn Taurus and liking things just-so.

    I applaud you for letting go of the attachment part of giving. That’s a big step. And yet, I know people who have no attachment to the recipient’s response, but they still overgive because of the void that giving fills in them (making them feel good, giving them the upper hand, etc.). I’m not saying this is you; in fact, I sense that you’re pretty clear in your giving. I mention it for the sake of someone else who might read that and recognize themselves.

    “What does the law of asking say about receiving with strings attached?” Hmm…when I connect with the Law to ask (laws are things just like thoughts are things), I get pushed over to another place that I wouldn’t frame in terms of laws. This feels like an issue related to DESERVING, especially deserving what you ask for. Or even deserving to ask in the first place? Is it a sin to ask in the first place? (You might be surprised how many of us who have left religion or grown up without it still have concepts of sin in our consciousness.) Do these suggestions resonate with you?

    ~ Christina

    Reply
Jen L says August 27, 2012

So timely. I’ve been putting off setting up a doctors appointment for my shoulder because I don’t want to inconvenience my family and job with PT, but instead the problem is getting worse and I’ve become less productive – at home and work. I called and made that initial appointment today!

Reply
    Christina Ammerman says August 27, 2012

    Great for you, Jen! Time to “refill the well” and give some of that loving care to yourself!

    ~Christina

    Reply
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