Thursday, 14 October 2010

Give Series, Week 3: Busting the myths of giving

Welcome to Week 3 of the Give Series. In the first week of our journey, we looked at a dictionary definition of ‘give’ and compared this to our own (in my case, scary) understandings. Last week we reflected on our thoughts about giving in the context of personal values. This week I’d like to talk about four of my very own giving myths- these are the thought patterns that have stopped me from giving or led to negative feelings about giving in the past.

Myth 1: Giving is a public service based on a unanimous social contract

Feelings it evokes:
  • Obligation
  • Entitlement
  • Fear of failure
  • Power
  • Virtue

Places you’ll find it:
  • Teenagers: “I already put the dishes away, I am not away the PlayStation games”;
  • Presents chosen and valued solely on financial cost
  • Christmas and special occasions: “I don’t care if we all hate her. We are going to Aunty X’s because that’s what we do”
  • Workplaces: “Now you owe me one”

Truth: Giving is an action birthed from a personal attitude

This means:
  • Giving is a choice, each and every time
  • Giving is without strings
  • Giving starts and stops when the giver chooses
  • The most important part of giving is the act, not the gift itself
  • Giving is about values not obligation
  • Giving is personal, shared between the giver and receiver
  • Giving is not about achieving social balance or control

    Myth 2: You will always need to give more

    Feelings it evokes:
    • Inadequacy
    • Fear
    • Exhaustion
    • Stubbornness
    • Apathy
    • Guilt
    Where you’ll find it:
    • Charities: many charities ask for long term commitments and send follow up promotional material for months after gifts are received; it’s also evident in many people’s refusal to listen to or support charities based on a “they’ll just keep asking for more”
    • Relationships: when people stay in bad relationships in the hope that their love will change the person they’re with
    • Workplaces: when a person refuses to help a team member based on the belief that it will become a pattern.
    Truth: Giving is a choice, each and every time.

    This means:
    • You have the right to change your mind at any time
    • You will never give out of obligation
    • It is your choice who you give to
    • You can stop giving if you want
    • What you give is enough

    Myth 3: It’s still yours after you give it

    Feelings it evokes:
    • Fairness
    • Entitlement
    • Control
    • Selfishness
    • Meaningfulness

    Where you’ll see it:
    • Christmas: “That’s not what you do with the train set. This is what you do with the train set!”
    • Parents: “I paid for your education. You will not waste it!”
    • Friendships: “I gave her my advice, but she never listens!”

    Truth: Once you give something, it has nothing to do with you

    This means:
    • The only control you have is the choice to give
    • People don’t have to like what you give them
    • Once you have given, the gift is no longer your responsibility
    • You don’t have to care what happens next

    Myth 4: Everyone gives in the same way

    Feelings it evokes:
    • Confusion
    • Rejection
    • Injustice

    Where you’ll see it
    • Marriage breakdowns: when couples fight over who pays the bills, cleans the house, takes the kids to footy practice, also, “He never spends time with me and always complains I don’t tell him how much I care”
    • Children: “She threw the doll away and insisted I help her turn the box into a spaceship”
    • Workplaces: “I just don’t feel appreciated. No one in my team ever helps me out and I always do things for them, even without them asking”

    Truth: People are different and their giving is different

    This means:
    • You don’t have to be like everyone else
    • You can be aware of and be thankful for different gifts you recieve
    • You can recognise generosity in different situations (check out Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages, which talks about different ways of communicating love: physical affection, words of affirmation, service, time and gifts (presents)
    • Some ways of giving will never feel natural to you. That’s ok.

    Well? Throw ‘em at me! What are your giving myths? Feel like grabbing yourself a pin and popping them?

    Next week is an opportunity to talk about what we have learnt through the series and how we are putting it into practice. I’ll also present a couple of ‘giving challenges’ that will help you break out of old myths and patterns that stopped your giving being what you want it to be.

    Kate xxx

    All photos are by Thomas Hawk and are part of his $2 Portraits collection. Check out his site, Digital Connection or his photos on Flickr to find out more about how his gift of $2 in exchange for portraits of the homeless across America is changing the face of poverty.

    Read other "Give Series" posts:

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