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Let’s get this right: there is nothing wrong with giving to others, but the reason it all goes pear-shaped for the giver lies in the intent behind the giving.
Most of us have been taught since early childhood to be kind, courteous, and share with others. The intention behind this is good. But somewhere along the way, we realise that we usually get rewarded either by someone saying thank you or maybe even getting us something in return when we give.
So over the years, this becomes programmed into our minds. Receiving after giving becomes the norm, and the intent behind our giving becomes about getting.
You might be thinking, “Hang on a minute. I don’t give to get; I give, and I don’t expect anything,” but this is where you need to reach inside and think about your intent when you are “giving to someone” or when you have “given” in the past.
Maybe you’ve given your time, money, or physical stuff. For example, you might hold a door open for someone, and they walk right through the door. Do you expect that they say “thank you?” If you are not giving to get, you would not expect a thing—not even thanks. That’s right; you would not be livid that the selfish bastard didn’t say thank you.
We have all thought for too long that giving to get rather than giving without expectations is reasonable; this is undeniable if we’d only pause to ask ourselves how many times we have given to get in our life.
Think of the times you have felt disgruntled, used, or taken advantage of by a partner, friend, or colleague after doing something for them “out of the kindness of your heart.” Why were you upset? Did they not show enough gratitude? Did that pal not offer you a beer in return for helping them move?
Now, ask yourself whether that gratitude, beer, or even someone having your back later was expected in return.
When looking at it this way, ask yourself—and answer honestly—how many times you have given to get in your life.
I’ll break it to you: if you have felt anger, resentment, rage, disgust, shock, or other negative emotions after a lack of a kind exchange when “giving,” you were always giving to get. You intended to get something in return either immediately or at a later time. Usually, that something is love, validation, respect, or appreciation in exchange for your time, money, or physical gifts.
Now that you are aware, the next time you give, you can be mindful of your intent. And if you do go ahead with giving, do it with no expectations and see what happens.
We cannot control another person; we can, however, manipulate them by trying to get them to behave in a way we want, and this includes niceness to respect us for our generosity.
This is why we cannot give to get; we have to offer from our heart, genuinely, with no expectations, or we ought not give at all.