“I’ve learned that if you do not expect a thank-you, giving is easy.”
Giving something away, whether it is an object, your time, support, money, love, compassion, etc., is really a very easy thing to do if you are giving it without expecting anything in return. That is the definition, in my mind, of the true gift of you to somebody else.
It gives me a great feeling to offer something to someone when they need it, or even when they don’t. When you have made somebody else feel acknowledged or noticed, cared for or supported, it somehow leaves you feeling good too. By elevating another person, you elevate yourself. That’s what I call a win-win situation!
Giving to somebody that is in real need, suffering or maybe down on their luck shows our compassion for others and that we recognize our plenty in comparison to their needs. It’s great when we can recognize this and take some action to improve the lives of others. Most of the folks that we help who fall into these categories are grateful, in some way, for what we have done or given; even if they are unable to express it. But in most of these situations, we are not expecting thanks; we give because we feel the need to give.
More challenging is being able to give to others that create some difficulties in our lives: The ones who hurt us, or make us angry; those that care little for our feelings but have great expectations of us; someone who uses us to get a leg up, and forgets about us when they get to the top.
I think kids can be the perfect example of this type of giving! They are, by nature, needy little creatures that have a great capacity to take and take and take. It can be exhausting to feel that, especially with teenagers, there is a huge, sucking vortex on the emotional bank account; far more being drawn out than is being deposited at any given time. It can leave a parent feeling depleted in a very real way.
But as parents, we usually find a way (deep inner strength??) to keep just enough in there so that our kids can continue to draw from the ATM of our emotional bank account. And I think most of us do it knowing that often, there is no immediate ‘thank-you’ coming our way. I know that I never appreciated my parents as much as I did after I became one myself. And, not that we can’t or shouldn’t work with our kids to cultivate a spirit of gratitude! But let’s face it, most kids, at some level, are all-about-me.
So parenting becomes the perfect training ground for giving without expectation of a thank-you. And over the years, there have been times when I have been able to do this truly freely, and other times when I have struggled; wanting, desperately, just a little something back. But if I compare the two, the ‘freely given’ times kept me emotionally more balanced.
There is nothing like giving the ‘perfect’ gift to someone. It makes you feel like you have really won the lottery! I remember one Christmas giving our pre-teen daughter 2 tickets to a Broadway show in New York City, along with the promise of a bus trip into the city together (Mother and daughter). You would have thought we had given her the moon sprinkled in diamond dust! That was an easy gift to give.
As I sit here writing this, my son just called and asked if he could use my computer tonight to work on his school project. Now, I do a lot of computer nonsense in the evenings; catching up on e-mails, writing posts for my blog, checking for and replying to comments, etc. I could have allowed myself to feel put upon by the ‘inconvenience’; but I didn’t. I said, come home. You are welcome to my computer. That was an easy ‘gift’ to give my son who is spending a great deal of time in the library because he has burned out his own computer. I will probably even make him dinner! (He is at 22 getting a little better about making deposits into the emotional bank account…..)
So, give without expecting anything in return. Give the easy gifts and the more difficult ones as well. Give freely and you will be the one left feeling like you have gotten a gift…..
On the journey with you…….Kathy
(Quote: Age 47- The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)