Sometimes there is give and take in relationships, other times there are givers and takers.
I'm a giver...to a fault...like every other giver out there.
If I can, I will.
Not a Mother Theresa giver of necessities and ruler of humanity nor a formal charity type of giver, but a giver of "self". My whole self seems to go to others who don't reeeaally need it.
Being a giver of self isn't the occasional generous gesture, but instead it consists of being used and used up by others, willingly. Givers like to think of it as compassion, dropping everything to lend a hand, and being reliable, but this goes beyond good deeds and a gold star!
I give to please others, but it no longer pleases ME to give anymore.
Giving was a role I fell into early in life. It's been expected of me since I can remember.
I don't want others to feel the stress I do. I take on more so they don't have to.
I would rather be a basket case and handle it for them because I can't bear the thought of them feeling like I do 99% of the time.
Isolate myself from others when I have nothing left to give.
My marriage suffered when I had less to give to my husband after our first baby- he's had to learn to be more of a giver to make things work (that's a positive).
After kids and Rheumatoid arthritis, my "self" is depleted. I've had to cope with being a C- giver...and even a taker at times. There are sleepless nights involved in not giving like I used to.
Just this last week I disappointed exactly 19 people. That's easy math for me to tally up because each one of them leaves a guilty pit in my stomach. There aren't enough nights in a week to be sleepless over them all!
In one instance, it was a last minute family dinner invite. Invites to givers are expectations. Most people know if you're a giver, you're going to bend over backwards to be there. Family and friends have you pegged in that category and you better not let them down. They expect you to not be tired, not be sick, not be busy, or 'not feel like it'.
Me: "I won't be able to make the dinner tonight. The dog is still at the groomers."
Mom: "Why did you schedule it for today?"
Me: "I made the appointment long time ago and he recently got matted with mud, poop, and bark in his fur."
Mom: "Well couldn't you have washed the dog?"
My thoughts: (I tried my best to go out of my way and meet your requirements.)
Me: "We did our best to wash him but it's not all coming out."
Then the guilt trip continues...I'm disappointing everybody...my aunt gives me the silent treatment, and family from out of town wonders why I can't "bother" to make the trip.
Later the same day my husband comes home:
Me: "The dog is ready to be picked up. If you leave now, you can pick him up and take (our daughter) to swimming class on the way back."
Husband: "Why can't you pick up the dog?"
My thoughts: (It is over a half hour trip for me and on the way for you, DEAR!)
Me: "I was hoping to take a shower before starting dinner. I had to run errands all day then wait for repair man who ended up being 2 hours late unannounced. I didn't want to jump in the shower only for him to show up. After my shower I've got to start dinner."
Husband: "Fine" (grumpily)
I get caught up in being the explainer because I've been the giver for so long.
I didn't have enough room here to include all the times when "friends" come a knockin', call or text just for my free advice or consolations- basically when they need something. For takers, I'm a valuable resource.
Not anymore! I'm getting the hang of disappointing people. I hope they'll be okay with it, but recently it's been the demise of some one-sided relationships.
When you stop giving as much, it feels like you're in isolation. People come knockin' less, but I'd rather have mutual and valuable relationships than multiple dysfunctional ones.
Sometimes you have to tolerate takers, such as in a work environment, but in your personal life, drop them...after you have made several attempts to assert your wishes. Look here, I'm giving you free advice...and good advice too!
Just a few side effects of being a giver:
Being uncomfortable asserting or advocating your own wishes. Especially not being persistent with your wishes.
You know how it feels to be taken advantage of so it's the last thing you want to do to someone else.
High risk of burn out because givers don't take care of themselves the way they should.
It can be a life sentence. Once you assume the role, it stays with you.
Likelihood of attracting takers, especially in romantic relationships. Most givers won't be comfortable with your level of giving.
You need more explanations, than the average person, to get yourself out of situations and you feel like you need to GIVE explanations too,
When you deny anyone, you are super duper letting them down because the expectation is you'll always do it.
Givers get into one-sided relationships all the time.
It can seem like a givers duty to make everyone happy.
Your ability to say "yes" seems worth it's weight in gold, and also where you sense of self stems from. The more 'yes's' you give, the better you feel.
With takers in our lives, we feel needed. It feels empty to not please.
Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do...
Undoing the damage:
Just kidding, there is no way of undoing the damage, but there is no time like the present to begin again.
I look at my energy (to give) as a trail of light in my mind (I'm visual). If someone requests something of me, I look to see where that trail is headed. If it's headed nowhere, it's a waste of my energy. I need a surplus to truly make a difference in someone's life (as all givers hope to do).
Recognize "takers". Takers are always moving forward with an agenda- their own agenda. The agenda is what they can get from you, involving as little as possible of their own efforts. They will shoot down your ideas and interests, and eventually fizzle out of your life as you give less to them.
Move toward "matching". According to Adam Grant, who has done extensive research on the topic of givers and takers, he claims matchers give, but also if they are to expect something in return. It's like a point matching system. They also help lower takers abilities to get ahead and givers ability to move up in the world...as a sense of justice.
Matchers identify ways "to sustain their giving by looking for ways that giving can hurt them less or benefit them more." (Adam Grant. Author or "Give and Take" and "The Originals").
I would highly suggest you start keeping score if you're a giver!
Everything I've read about givers suggests they actually give less because they run out of energy, they begin keeping less friends and support systems due to overload, they run out of time and they lose their resources because they don't take care of themselves.
I'm passionate about no-nonsense self-improvement. Too many of us are plagued by faulty thought patterns- I aim to change that!