The Giver

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“Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving.  We need to give, and we need to need.”     -Brené Brown

Often when we lean on others and reach out to find our comfort and connection, it can feel almost like we are asking too much. It seems far easier to give, doesn’t it? When we receive, it can challenge those questions within us that ask, “am I worthy? am I enough? do I deserve this?

Since as far back as I can remember, I was told giving was good.  Seriously, who hasn’t heard the expression, “it’s better to give than to receive,” right?

Perhaps, as a first-born of 2 children and the only girl, I saw (care) giving as my “role.”  We would often joke that my poor brother had two mothers growing up.

Maybe I felt I was expected to “show the way,” be the model of how it’s done. Whatever the case, I took my role seriously

The thing about identifying with a role is that we tend to think of what we do within that role as a duty.  When we are coming from the authentic core of who we were created to be, the actions we take are about our service to the world.

The approach I chose as a Giver certainly didn’t end with my family.  When I would see others who (clearly, in my opinion) needed help, I would step in.  This happened, often, with or without the invitation of the other person.

Let’s face it, I had Wonder Woman Complex.

Okay, so let’s dissect this.  Aside from the obvious reasons why this might not be such a terrible thing . . . I mean who wouldn’t want to look like Lynda Carter in that incredible outfit and go through major battles, cool and composed without a hair out of place?

Running around with an eye trained on who needs you and placing all of your value on whether or not you are able to help others fix their lives is really no way to live.


Yes, I know how that sounds.

You might be asking,  “but that’s what we are supposed to do . . . be of service to others, right?”

Yes, but not like that.

The typical role of Giver that we have been conditioned to really could be summed up in one word, martyr.  And although in many circles the role of martyr has been held up as the pinnacle of personal investment and marriage to a cause . . . think Joan of Arc, Mother Theresa, Anne Frank . . . the reality of it is that the role involves giving up one’s life.  Self-sacrifice.

Although the times and circumstances of the martyrs listed above greatly impacted these women’s lives, and the role they played, perhaps, made sense, in most of our lives, the practice of self-sacrifice is not helpful.

Think about it.  How can you hope to be there for others if you are sacrificing your own basic needs?  What kind of modeling is this?  Ultimately, this serves no one.  How is it possible for us to expect to be in a position of strength and true service if we are bleeding out?

Not seeing to the support of the vehicle only means that there will be some sort of breakdown along the journey.

Remember . . . .we are not super-human. No matter how much we try to squeeze into that skin-tight suit, and even if we do look damn good in it.

So, why do we do it?

As men and women, why do we have such a drive to protect and nurture everything around us before we see to the care of these core needs within ourselves?  Why do we strive so hard to find our value in the role of Giver?

As we have learned it, the role of Giver has many flaws.  For me, in my life, on one side, the role offered me purpose and something to “hang my hat on.” What it also instilled in me was the committed perspective that there was a dividing line between giver and receiver.  If I was the giver, I couldn’t, by this definition, be the receiver.  Those receiving had needs . . . were needy. This can often lead the Giver to a false sense of superiority.  Of course, this is really a mechanism to make up for the lack of nourishment (receiving) that The Giver is left with.

For me, it was simple, “they” needed, I didn’t.  Somehow, this was better. Needing to need meant relying on others, and this was a weakness because there was the chance that those who I was relying upon would not deliver.

Of course, identifying with the role of The Giver was never a conscious thing for me, and yet because of it, I had a tough time acknowledging that, I too, had needs. The needing of things was just not congruent with my role and might just suggest that I was not who I thought I was. Of course, this would question my very perception of identity and ability, at that time, to protect myself.

We all create roles and belief systems as a way to have certainty in the world, and with it, protection.

Unfortunately, what shields us from hurt can also shield us from love and true connection.

As humans, each and every one of us has needs.  It, therefore, becomes dangerous when we are not able to acknowledge this and when we seek to redefine how we live according to conditioned belief systems and not biological wiring.

In his Six Human Needs model, developed from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Self-Actualization, Tony Robbins lists our human needs as certainty, variety, significance, love, expansion and contribution.

Robbins points out that we must meet these needs. Therefore, it is not a question of whether we do or not, it boils down to whether we meet each need in healthy or unhealthy ways.

So, as we can see if we have adopted the role of Giver, it’s very difficult to recognize our own needs, and because of this, these needs are often not appropriately considered.  For the Giver, it can be very easy to attend to everything, including the watering of every household plant before finally stopping to even feed yourself!

What does this look like, exactly?

I hear from many clients who are parents that they feel it is important to sacrifice everything for their children.  Now wait a minute, what kind of lessons are we teaching our children here?  Do we want to raise self-sacrificers?  How is it working for us?  Do we think it is teaching them the important aspects of taking care of oneself?  Are we sending mixed signals when we raise our children this way . . . that on one hand they are to self-sacrifice (what we model) and on the other to be self-sufficient (what we preach)? I’m wondering, honestly how the self-sufficiency piece is to be accomplished if we don’t have a leg to stand on because we cut it off for someone else?  In my opinion, there is too much sacrificing going on in this approach.  If we are doing this, we are not standing in our full power and strength.

The bottom line is this, as a Giver, we cannot see ourselves in the role of receiving.  So in order to have our needs met what do we do?

We end up taking.

As you can imagine, taking manifests as different types and degrees of what really amounts to manipulative and controlling behaviors.  Oh, and there will always be the justifications . . . this person “owed” me the time/consideration/respect/love, etc., but what it comes down to is an inability to serve from a position of being served.  To love from a place of allowing ourselves to be fully and wholeheartedly loved.

Ultimately, the issue becomes, if I am not making the choice to meet my needs in healthy ways, then I cannot serve in healthy ways.

If I am self-sacrificing, then my needs are not being met in healthy ways.

In my own life, I have come to realize that neither I nor the others in my life have been truly served through my role as Giver.

When we live this way, we are Giver one moment and Getter the next, and there is a big difference between giving from the expectation of role and giving from the heart and soul.

Similarly, we can easily make the distinction between getting and receiving. They are not at all the same and the energy that each holds leads to decidedly different outcomes.

The good news is that through awareness and consistent, dedicated repatterning, we can begin to shift from a role of Giver to a role of Supporter. In one there is judgment, expectation, enabling, loss of personal power and therefore a need to control.  In the other, there is honor, acceptance, ownership/responsibility, personal empowerment and faith.

During my own journey quest to be a Supporter, I have learned and received a great amount of clarity and newly found (inherent) purpose.  I am realizing more and more each day that as I reinvest in my own life path, I can also learn to appreciate the role of witness to other people doing the same in their lives.