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Chanti Niven

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Giving and Getting it.
by Chanti Niven   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007

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In one of my articles (You Choose to be Offended), I shared that when I see an angry person, I see a hurting person. I could apply this kind of thinking just as easily to a seemingly mean, selfish or stingy person. Read on further...


Have you given of your time, love, money or resources to someone and then received little or nothing in return?

Are you mystified by the reluctance or unwillingness of a person to give when you've given so freely to them? After all we are taught to 'give and it shall be given to us' (to paraphrase a well known biblical quote)

The principle does work but not always in the way you would imagine? I believe in the spiritual law of 'sowing and reaping' (sometimes referred to as karma) as well but I've learnt that what you give may come back in different ways and from completely unexpected sources. I've given to people in the past who were either unable or unwilling to give in return. What we give freely (with the right attitude) will freely return to us...but maybe not from the recipient/s of our giving.  If we spend time knocking on those doors, we might miss the open doors to blessings elsewhere. The principle (or law) works but often not predictably.

Gifts are not gifts if there are expectations attached to them. When we give, we should do so without expectation of return and in this way we don't need to suffer disappointment.

Why do some people seem so unwilling to give?

Just as a hurting person presents 'anger' as a mask (or defense), a fearful person may present 'meanness' or an unwillingness to give.

There are a couple of reasons people don't give freely: (1) Inability or lack (you can't give what you don't have...duh) (2) Fear (e.g. fear of letting go, fear of loss etc.)  The rich man who won't give to a beggar may justify this by saying 'I made my money with my blood, sweat and tears. Why should I hand my hard-earned money over to this lazy bum? He should go out and get a job.' As logical as this reasoning may seem, it is more likely that he is fearful of letting go or of loss.

I have to stop here and clarify something. I give freely from my excess (it would be stupid to give my rent money away) to those in need. I would not give cash to a drug addict (.../anymore. I did this with my brother and learnt a valuable lesson). We should apply wisdom to our giving. Hence, we could add a number to the list above. (3) Wisdom, Vision or Insight (e.g. 'by giving to this person I'm not really helping them at this time'.)

Whew did you take a breath through all of that? Now would be a good time to stop and think a bit. Don't tell me that you've never had thoughts along the lines of, 'I helped so and so out and now when I need help, where is he?' or 'When Jane needed me I was there for her. Now I need a friend and she's not there for me.' Am I the only one who has been afflicted by this kind of thinking in the past? It is only too human to think this way but fortunately we've been given the ability to reason and with a little applied knowledge, we have the means to change our destructive thinking patterns. People who become mired in these, become embittered and angry.

Are you still mystified by the apparent meanness of another individual?
Have you given your love (money, time etc.) to another and received little or nothing in return?

I find it helps to look at the flip side or to view things from a different angle. It's an acquired skill and one that requires practice. It's worth it because it  will help you turn negative situations around. When you believe that someone is deliberately denying you or has set out to hurt or harm you, you may feel angry or resentful. You may even feel like denying, hurting or harming that person to punish them (Is revenge really sweet?) This is how those vicious cycles start. I do not believe that people (normal, sane people that is) intentionally go out to hurt others. Most times they act out of the pain of their own wounds. Try stroking an injured animal to prove this theory for yourself. I also don't believe that a person who has would deny a person who has not, for any truly malicious reason (remember we're talking about normal, sane people here). If someone was starving it would be inexplicably cruel for me to deny that person food.  Let's apply the three points I mentioned above to this seemingly obvious example.

(1) Inability or lack

"Do I have food to give?"

" Would I be denying myself (nothing wrong with self-denial at times) or am I denying my family to give?"

(2) Fear

"I have food but what if I give him food and I then run out?" (What I'm really saying is "I'm scared of lack")

"I worked hard for the food I have. If he is unwilling to work, he deserves to starve." (Watch for this hard, callous attitude. I guarantee you that this person is operating out of hurt. Look for the wound.)

"If I give him food, he will expect more food from me next week." etc. (Another example of fear in action...this time, fear of consequence. How has past experience shaped this?)

(3) Wisdom or Vision / Insight

"Am I really helping this person by giving him food or would I help him more if I provided him with a means to get his own food."

 (Remember the old Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.")

"I'll provide his immediate need because I am able to do so but I will not enable him to be lazy or irresponsible by feeding him all the time. He has to find a way to provide for himself"  (Sometimes people need to go through tough experiences in order to learn valuable lessons)

Of course there are many other examples but you get the point I'm sure.

When you read the above, it is likely you will apply a moral judgement to the questions / statements made under each point. Many of you will relate to those in (1) and (3) but will immediately recognise that point (2) is an example of negative thinking.  We know that this kind of thinking is flawed even if we've been guilty of it at some point ourselves.  However, delve deeper and the eyes of your undertanding may be opened. What if a person has been raised in poverty? A person who has experienced constant lack may become affected by 'poverty syndrome' or have a fear of being without. To apply another example that some of you may be able to relate to: If a person is unaccustomed to receiving love or if he or she has been mentally, emotionally or physically abused as a child, that person may find it very difficult to give love in a healthy way. What kind of example do they have? Understanding roots or underlying causes for a person's behaviour will help you deal with your own feelings and responses to their behaviour.

Your feelings of anger or hurt, no matter how justified, are emotions that will not produce anything but further hurt, if you act upon them. It's ok to feel whatever emotion you may be feeling. It's also ok for you to express what you feel to the person whose actions (or lack of) have caused you pain. It is ok to talk to a trained counselor if needs be. It's NOT ok to express your (negative) feelings about another to all and sundry (folks, however you may justify this, it is commonly known as 'gossip') Talking to close friends may be an exception but be careful you don't inadvertently damage the reputation of another person in this way. After all you are expressing an opinion or your personal perception of a situation. This should never be mistaken for ultimate truth. Have you never been wrong? Words once spoken cannot be retracted. The damage is done.
It's also not ok for you to eke your revenge or try to get your own back. In this way you deny yourself the real rewards that come to those who give with a good attitude. There is such freedom in letting go.

Gaining an understanding of the behavioural patterns of other people and learning about their roots or the underlying causes for their behavour will help you adjust your own thought patterns and in this way you will be better equipped to deal with your feelings and emotions.

"I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum."
~ Frances Willard~ 

Copyright 2007 Chanti 


Reader Reviews for "Giving and Getting it."

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Reviewed by OnepoetGem *the Poetic Rapper
very insightful article and a very postive common sense philosophy that many find hard to do
Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G
GREAT thought provoking article Chanti!
I plan to keep!
I agree with Jeff - This is True for me too...
Personally, I do not give with any expectation of return.
But, regarding this:
"Gifts are not gifts if there are expectations attached to them. When we give, we should do so without expectation of return and this way we will never be disappointed."
WE give from our hearts becuase we WAnt to, but what happens sometimes, is many feel abused for not speaking up, by being taken advantaged of. So to say this, tells me that is where the expectations back come from. This reminds me of stealing too, Some will say and I Kinda' agree: If someone steals from you...They must have needed it MORE than you, but, to me that should be an erasable pain that you feel... Depending on why it was stolen would be my opinion. See.. I said you brought up a thought-Provoker...
GREat I will have this on my brain all night!
Thank you Chanti for helping to Open our eyes further...
WArmly, WArrior PURPLE Lady Sheeeoox
P.s. I have to think highly of what Tami brought up too, I am one that says those feeling too often...hmmm....
Reviewed by Brett Moore
Well thought out and accurate in my opinion. Especially, the Fear category, which I think is probably the first thought that crosses my mind when asked to give or think about giving. Of course, it depends on what person I am giving to. My friends have asked me for money and I give without thinking about it, even when I know I won't see a dime back. I have often wondered why I do this. Is it because I feel that they won't be my friend anymore if I don't? I don't think so. I think there is a sense of obligation, almost like I would feel towards family. Now, if I saw a homeless person, and had a few bucks to give, would I feel the same obligation? Sadly, it would depend on my mood and if I felt pressure to do so. Gee, that's kind of hard to admit, but it's true. I would certainly like to correct this way of thinking and may do so in the future. Ok, I'm rambling here, but you did a great job of provoking thought in your article, otherwise, I wouldn't have gone off on this tangent admitting what a scumbag I am.

Reviewed by Tami Ryan
I cringe every time I hear someone say "What goes around, comes around" because, to me, there is anger in those words. If we give from the heart - freely - because we WANT to, there's never a reason to use that phrase.

I can only hope that I will be able to shine a light half as bright as the one that's been shined on me by others.

Hugs to you,
Reviewed by H Cruz
We are such seflfish pigs in material slop. Give me your eye teeth and I will call you a saint to a sinner...Good stuff C.
Reviewed by Stan Grimes
Chanti, I have been "given" wisdom from this article...not sure I can "give" this kind of wisdom back to you.

Thanks for sharing.
Reviewed by Chanti Niven
I am always grateful for feedback and objective critique. Jeff, I found your feedback especially helpful and could not agree more when it comes to what you say about expectation. I certainly didn't mean it the way it may have come across when I said '...and in this way we will never be disappointed.' What I meant was that if you have expectations, you're likely to be disappointed if your expectations aren't met but if you have none, you can't be. You take joy in giving for the sheer pleasure of it. That to me is reward in of I can see it for you.

Obviously my motive for giving is not so that I don't experience disappointment but rather because I WANT to do it. This is what I meant about giving with the right attitude. A gift should never carry a price tag...not even an emotional one. How many times do we give expecting gratitude in return?

Thanks again for your insightful words. I've learnt something reading them and I'll give thought to revising my words for clarity's sake. Any suggestions?

Linda, thank you for your review. Oh boy have you opened up a whole hornets nest with the tithing issue. I could write another article on that topic alone. All I will say for now is that the bible says 'God loves a cheerful giver'. If tithing or giving of any form is done out of a sense of duty, it would be hard to be cheerful about it wouldn't it? There are many that believe in tithing because by doing so they believe they will be financially rewarded for doing so. What is their motive? Uhoh. At this point I will shut up or I will incite a full scale debate on here which was not my intention. Often when I share my thoughts in this forum, I'm really only thinking aloud. ;-)

Thanks to all who have taken the time to comment. I've just about written a book in my reply *sighs* so I'll sign off at this point.
Reviewed by Linda Wells
Very provocative, debatable writing Chanti. This has been a dilemma from the beginning of time. I believe in helping my fellow man whenever and however I can, as I am sure you do. The one problem I have with this complexity is the "tithing". The bible says to give 10% of what you have, but there has been times if I gave that much, we would have to go without something or paying a bill on time. I believe a person should do as much as they can, and give as much as possible without feeling obligated to give a certain amount. I think we have here the age old adage, What goes around, comes around! I love the parables you have incorporated here. Excellent!

Blessings & Peace,
Linda Wells
Reviewed by Regis Auffray
Thank you, Chanti. Thought-eliciting as usual. Love and peace respectfully,

Reviewed by Jeff Mason
Intriguing write, as always. I like how you relate the various parables and similar situations to the emotional and psychological reasoning of the human condition.

Personally, I do not give with any expecation of return.

But, regarding this:
"Gifts are not gifts if there are expectations attached to them. When we give, we should do so without expectation of return and this way we will never be disappointed."

I don't agree with the last part "...this way we will never be disappoitned." I'm sure you did not mean that the way it comes across; i.e., "never being disappointed" is not a 'reason' for "giving without expectation." Giving without expectation is really a TRUE show of character. I have so many colleagues who COUNT every signle 'favor' and 'gift' and 'lunch they buy;' and, at the first opportunity, they say, "Umm... don't you [OWE] me a lunch? Didn't I buy the last time?" Well... "news flash:" I don't buy someone a lunch in expectation that I ever will receive a lunch in return. I don't COUNT favors nor gifts - I simply give from my heart, and if it is EVER returned, then I count that a blessing. Thank you for the thought-provoking write Chanti. -- Jeff
Reviewed by Felix Perry
Very well written article Chanti with lots of room for contemplation and reflection for us. Each individual sees charity and giving in a different light and can only give what they feel is right, that being said I always look at it from the point of view (for example) if that were my son, daughter, brother etc on the corner with his hand out would I turn my head away and keep on walking or give him the benefit of the doubt and offer him what I could. Great thought provoking piece sweet Chanti.

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