Have you ever felt like you are a giver and the rest of the world, except a choice few, are takers?

I’m a natural giver.  I like to see happiness on people’s faces, and I love when someone shows me appreciation.  Maybe I am an appreciation junkie.

Sometimes, though, I start feeling a little like I have given my heart, soul, physical self, emotional self – all of me – away.  Like an empty ship, I feel like I am floating along without purpose or meaning – except to serve others.

I’ve been told I need to be more selfish.  After years of giving to and thinking of others, that’s like telling an old dog to run backwards.  I’ve been in the process of retraining myself to “run backward” some of the time, just to get a more even balance in my life, but old patterns are hard to break.  And when I choose to be “selfish,” it usually comes back to bite me.

Today a co-worker decided to bring in cupcakes in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  My first thought was, “Darn, I can’t eat those, because they are sure to have ingredients that I am sensitive or allergic to.”  Second thought, “Take one and save it for your husband.”  Third and final thought, “Just take one and eat it!  You deserve to enjoy life, too!”  It was quite delicious, and I savored every bite.  After the last crumb was picked from the paper, I remembered why I avoid the foods I am sensitive to and/or allergic to, and I remembered why I avoid sugar – because they give me PAIN!  Not immediate, but tomorrow, I am sure my joints will be aching from the sugar and white flour, and my digestion will be reacting to the soy.  So there I am, thinking how much better it would have been if I would have just kept being the giver instead of the taker!

I think the real key is to stop feeling resentment when the giving is not reciprocated.  My most favorite relationships of my life were the ones that left me feeling like the Ying (or the Yang) of the relationship.  The relationships where the mindset is, YES, I will help you!  And if both parties in the relationship have that mindset, then there is equal give and take.  There is kind consideration.  These relationships are rare.  Maybe that is why they are remembered so well and with such fondness.

So, I guess the key is not to rely on the appreciation of others to feel fulfilled and purposeful.  And the other is to learn to give appreciation to one’s self.

Martina McBride sings a song called, “Anyway.”  It’s all about the things you do with hopes of a certain outcome, and she’s saying, even if you don’t achieve the outcome, and the activity is a joyful one, do it anyway.

I’m resetting the giver button.  Putting my focus where it needs to be – on appreciation for all the love and beauty and generosity in my life, instead of on the expectation of it or the lack of it in my life.  The glass is half full, right?  I need to appreciate the giver in me.  It brings me joy to give.  Why not focus on that?  Focus on the joy!  After all, joy is the best gift!


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