If you value a friendship, a working relationship or a family member, can you be too giving?
As friendships go, if you remember every little incident in your friend’s lives that they tell you – that they were seeing a specialist for something in two weeks time, that their husband was finding out about a promotion, that their daughter was graduating or they were going away on a holiday and you wanted to wish them safe travels, can your thoughts and cares going out to your friend be misconstrued as ‘stalking,’ obsessive or too overwhelming to them? Or is it your friend who has the problem when they get offended because you are putting more effort into your friendship than they do with you and is not as accepting of your well wishes, thoughts and prayers? Are they the ones with their own personal struggle that they can’t reciprocate the friendship as much as they want to or that they realise that they themselves just aren’t as giving to you, so it sits badly on them because they always thought they were a giving person, until they met you, and felt that your giving of yourself was beyond anything they could match?
It was recognised in my 9 year old recently, that maybe he ‘buys’ his friendships at school, because he constantly wants to bring a rubber ball, Bey Blades or a special toy to school so people will interact with him, or he can be ‘in charge’ of the game that everyone wants to play with him. He actually brought a toy to school where one of his best friends asked if he could take it home to show his mum. He was a little worried that he wouldn’t get it back, but luckily I am good friends with his mum, and she’s the kind of person who would tell her son to give it back, which he did thankfully. But it does make you realise that some people just take advantage of those with a good heart and leave ‘the giver’ disappointed.
But I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this instance. I’ve always gone out of my way to buy something special for my loved one that’s specifically for them as a birthday or Christmas gift with very little thought ever being reciprocated. In recent years, I’ve been so disappointed with the lack of understanding of my self-sacrifices, that I haven’t been true to myself (which also eats away inside of me), unless they are people who have really touched me. So it makes me think, are we givers in a way that we give to those who we believe are special to us, and are essentially buying their love? Are we buying their love by sacrificing our own time, money or lives by giving them as much of ourselves as possible to them, not wanting anything physically in return except acceptance and hopefully love?
I guess it all comes down to what you personally value. If you value a friendship, working relationship or family member, you give what you can of yourself to be there for them in any way possible. If you don’t value them, then you don’t make life easier or nicer for them… it’s that plain and simple. Value, is the same as respect, love, honour and cherish… and many people abuse the love others have for them, especially children with parents, because it’s expected that they will always be there for them. It’s when they aren’t there anymore, that they realise that they should have been more appreciative.
I find with my work, I shouldn’t, but I do, I tend to put my work above my boys, on the basis that if I lose a client, can’t be at an appointment or write substandard copy, then I risk losing that client, which could mean losing $8000-$25,000 a year. And it can also ruin my reputation, as most the clients I work with are integrated. So I can’t afford not to be there for my clients and get the work done by the deadline. However, if my child is sick, hurt at school or needing immediate attention, then I will be there for them and sacrifice sleep, food or social activities to tend to their needs, as my kids have no one else. Do I get anything in return from my clients for always being there for them? No, not really, except a regular (sometimes semi-regular) pay check each month that is vendor paid. Occasionally, I’m invited to a corporate movie night, Christmas drinks in the pub, some movie tickets, or a corporate Christmas hamper as a thank you, which is very much appreciated, but I definitely don’t do the work for the gifts.
As for family members or school parent friends, I struggle to be giving of my time, because my time is dedicated to my boys and my work, and I struggle to take up offers of help because I can’t reciprocate. If I can’t reciprocate but someone insists on helping me, I generally buy a gift of appreciation – flowers, movie tickets, chocolates – something that they wouldn’t expect, but I want them to know that I value the efforts they have made to make my life easier, and I am truly humbled by what they have done for me.
So, can people be too giving or too generous? I don’t think so… I think with such busy lives these days and the emphasis on materialism, society forgets about just standing back and appreciating all those who are giving in our lives, and forget to receive with grace and acceptance; and what tends to happen to those who are givers, is that they are forgotten because it is accepted by those around them that they are exceptionally caring people and the ‘receivers’ in this world just walk all over them. Givers are people who need to feel appreciated for their time and effort too. We need more givers in our world, more people who are prepared to open their hearts and help. And if we all have a bigger spirit in giving rather than receiving, maybe this world might just be a better place to live and be more at peace.
Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends.