I believe most people are good. I believe most people will offer an extended hand or a gift of time to help another. I believe many people jump in and give money to social good and causes that resonate within and then pour out in supportive ways.
Statistics shared by the National Philanthropic Trust back this up:
“In 2014, the largest source of charitable giving came from individuals at $258.51 billion, or 72% of total giving; followed by foundations ($53.97 billion/15%), bequests ($28.13 billion/8%), and corporations ($17.77 billion/5%).”
Giving is easy.
More than being easy, we feel good when we do. Helping another creates a sense of meaning. Helping another activates a kindness that we would want extended to us as well.
Giving is a challenge when:
- We have scarce resources, and we want to give more.
- We give, and we are taken advantage of. Giving a second time requires a second thought.
When resources are scarce, we can give positive thoughts, prayers, time, and other things that may seem intangible but deliver many real results.
When taken advantage of, we do hesitate. We may give a second time and watch more closely. If fooled again, we skip the next time. The risk is missing the real opportunities to give. We become less willing. The important element to remember is why we want to give. Not every gift will make the same return as another, but we always need to remember that giving is really better than receiving.
And now receiving enters the picture.
Receiving is challenging.
When receiving, we feel guilty. We feel we may have not lived up to some expectation. By receiving, we are acknowledging some defeat. Defeat is only when we give up. Defeat happens when we do not accept what is given to help lift ourselves up again.
When receiving, we feel influence. Accepting a gift creates a sense that we owe something in return. The only return we should owe is doing the most with what is given. The rest is just internal noise.
When receiving, we feel exposed. What we are given fills a hole, and we would rather not let people know about what is missing in our lives. However, the only real way to fill the hole we are experiencing is by receiving another’s compassion, understanding, and gift.
When receiving, we feel tense. Feedback is necessary yet sometimes challenging. Feedback creates a sense of defense, so walls go up. Instead, when well-intentioned feedback is given, our receipt needs to be open and inquisitive, wanting to learn more. The more we learn, the better we become.
When receiving, we feel. Feelings are emotions, and the emotions on receiving are different than giving. In giving, we feel good about what we are offering. We feel excited about the opportunity to help another person. We feel a sense of “wow” in what is possible.
In receiving, we feel downtrodden. We feel second-guessed. We feel remorse. But we also feel a strong sense of gratitude and honor in what is given. An awkward balance of emotions arise.
A giving-receiving exception.
An exclusion to this is a surprise gift, one given in gratitude for an effort or attitude. The giving-receiving moment is one of mutual joy, and a joyous moment trumps all other emotions. In life and work, we need to remember to give unexpectedly and in times where no real need is evident. When we do this, we set the stage for more heart-full giving and receiving when a need is evident.
Within these exceptions, we remember that we need to be thankful in giving and thankful in receiving.
The empathetic moment of giving a receiving.
Giving is easy, and receiving is hard. Within the mix, we need to remember certain things. In giving, we need to remember to:
- Give to support
- Give in kindness
- Give with empathy
- Give without expectation of something in return, other than to make the most of what is given
In receiving, we need to remember to:
- Receive as a whole person
- Receive without worry
- Receive with an open heart and mind
- Receive without expectation, other than to make the most of what is received
Empathy makes the right connection (again) between giving and receiving. In both giving and receiving, hope is in the mix, and hope is a conversation. Maybe this where the magical moment begins. We need to have an empathetic conversation in giving and receiving. A spark of comfort and confidence ignites from our words spoken and heard.
What I know is that giving is personal, as is receiving. In many ways, receiving may be more personal. We don’t need to give; we want to. We don’t want to receive; we need to. The formula switches and becomes more personal. Needs carry an added personal story element.
In this moment of Thanksgiving, we need to consider receiving. Being thankful in both is essential. Giving and receiving is so much more than a seasonal moment. Giving and receiving is a lifelong practice.