I somehow missed the memo regarding love and giving. Did you get it? If so, I’d love to know what age you were when it arrived!
I always have received great joy in giving… especially to those I love. Learning quite clearly how much better it is to give than to receive I would find myself giving way more than I was receiving and taking pride in need-anticipation, creativity and exceeding expectation.
When I noticed that perhaps within a romantic relationship or friendship I was giving consistently more than I was receiving instead of acknowledging the imbalance I would work hard at lowering my expectations of the other. I’d remember the words “It is better to give than to receive” and be proud that I was doing Love right and optimistic that it would create the loving relationships I do desperately craved.
The problem is: I have needs. Actually, that isn’t the problem… the problem is that I would give to others without giving enough to myself or receiving enough for myself to get my own needs met. I would deny my need for rest, balance, respect, affection, attention, resources, creative expression, financial reimbursement… and resent the fact that I was giving so much and yet feeling so disrespected, under-valued, invisible… unloved. And yet, can you see how I created this myself by my misunderstanding of love and how true love gives?
If not, I can understand how you might have missed it. I did too for years and am just know able to see it and try to change my own behaviors and reactions. Giving to others while harboring shame or guilt in having a desire to have my own needs met kept me in a vicious cycle in over-giving to others and then feeling depleted and discouraged when others failed to give to me.
It felt selfish to give to myself so I would try to hide my needs or shamefully hide my efforts in meeting my needs. I was fearful I would be judged by others as I judged myself. Unconsciously at times I would manipulate others getting my needs met by using guilt or demands, but this never felt very good. It definitely didn’t feel like love.
Of course I often failed to make my needs known and I failed to request help from others when in need. Without awareness I sabotaged many opportunities for others to give to me.
So out of my unmet neediness I was not truly giving with love. How could I be when I wasn’t loving myself. My giving was tainted with neediness such as the need to feel attractive, valued, heard, seen, accepted, and unconditionally loved.
I can see now how it can be many times more loving to NOT give. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say to not give in one obvious ways thereby instead give something else, although not requested is way more authentic and healthy… and loving.
For example: by not giving my kids whatever they want… they are given the opportunity to work or earn what they want and learn how capable they are at times in getting their own wants and needs met. Another example is by saying no to helping look for the missing phone I am giving them the opportunity to figure out how to survive without me finding their phone… either by finding it themselves or learning how to live without it.
Not giving can also allow us the time to give to ourselves and meet our own needs. So, if instead of joining the search committee I continue to paint in my studio I can fill my need of self-expression and create through painting.
The cool thing is by giving to myself without shame I am more able to give to others without feeling depleted and resentful. By not over-giving and under-requesting I am showing others that I deserve respect. This creates the dynamic that increases the respect I will receive, not just by others… but most importantly by myself.
I suppose it may be better to give than to receive as long as we remember a few things:
1) The importance of keeping our closest relationships somewhat balanced over time in giving/getting
2) To release our shame or pride at having needs
3) To learn to request with love when we desire our needs met by another (request, never demand)
4) To self-give without guilt.
You see, to love is to give AND to receive… both are important in keeping not just Love alive and healthy but us as souls in human bodies alive and as healthy as well.