Being a Giver Doesn’t Make You a Pushover – With an Important Caveat

By Rachel Puryear

Some people are, and always will be, givers. For those who are, it’s just in our nature. We feel good about ourselves when we make others feel good, loved, and cared for. Givers are a bright light in a world where most other people tend to be takers.

Being a giver gets a bad rap, even from some who may be well intended. Givers can be thought of as pushovers, as not taking care of ourselves, or as getting easily taken advantage of. Alternately, givers can be presumed to be manipulative, and as “giving” only with the expectation of something else in return.

Regarding the latter, let’s clarify what a giver actually is, and isn’t. Someone who gives in a tit for tat kind of a way, to induce someone else to feel obligated in return and then exploit such feeling of obligation for one’s self-benefit; is not a giver – rather, such a person is an opportunist and a manipulator. Rather than actually being givers, such people are often in fact some of the biggest and most remorseless takers in disguise.

A true giver gives without necessarily expecting anything in return. They give because they like to help others, to make others happy, to spread joy. If they receive something back, they might gratefully accept it, and will in any event appreciate the intent. But that is not the point of giving for them.

Red heart within open pair of hands in black outline, against a green background.

But does that necessarily mean that a true giver is therefore destined to be constantly used up and drained by others? It depends – on how they focus their giving efforts.

Sadly, many people who are genuinely givers can attract narcissistic types of people. Narcissistic people, by their nature, are exploitative and extremely self-absorbed, and the opposite of givers. Narcissists will take without limits, or any remorse or even acknowledgement of the harm they’ve caused. Because of this phenomenon, being a giver can be viewed as inherently disadvantageous – because everyone has seen someone else in a one-sided relationship, if not been there themselves. Certainly, this sort of a scenario is toxic and unhealthy. Not only does it leave the person always doing the giving constantly spent and bled dry, but there seems to be an interesting ripple effect where the used person tends to also have other aspects of their life start to fall apart so long as they remain in a close relationship to the narcissistic person.

Fortunately, though, there is a much healthier and rewarding way to exercise giving. That is to direct giver efforts towards people worthy of such. Give to people who are, themselves, givers. Give to people who are deserving and appreciative of such efforts, and who will pay it forward.

Now, giving to other givers does not necessarily mean having an expectation of something back in return – although fellow givers do tend to be inclined to quickly reciprocate. However, the point is not to get something back. Rather, giving to other givers is a better use of one’s own giving efforts. Even if another giver who receives from you does not directly or immediately reciprocate your efforts, giving to other givers tends to also have an interesting ripple effect – but where good starts coming back to the initial giver, often many times over, and has a positive cascading effect on the initial giver’s whole life.

So, in short: Giving poorly, to unappreciative users; tends to result in being drained and having little to show for the giving efforts. Giving wisely, however, to those who are themselves natural givers; tends to spread abundance around, and also come back to the initial giver multifold (even though that’s not the point of giving). Therefore, being a giver is good, and is not an inevitable path to being used up; so long as the giving is directed towards others who are appreciative and also inclined to themselves give.

Thanks for reading, and for following. xo

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