I’m an Over-Giver.
I hold your hand. I never show up at your house empty-handed (always store-bought, of course, but that’s beside the point).
I offer advice if you want it, and will just sit quietly beside you if you just don’t want to be alone.
I am there for you.
I’m good at Giving. Really good. Always have been…. Even as a little girl.
And like most things that we are good at, Giving comes easy to me. In fact, Over-Giving is my default, my Auto-Pilot. Because when something comes easy, we tend to do it more. And more.
Which isn’t always a good thing.
It’s kind of like going to the gym and only working a single muscle group, say my forearms, while never working on my biceps, tri’s or shoulders. Not only do my over-built forearms make me look like a long blond-haired female Popeye, having arms like that is actually kind of a liability.
And as good as I am at Giving, I’m as equally terrible at Receiving. (Knowing this, my intention for 2016 was to reduce my giving and start concentrating on receiving.)
You know what I mean by Receiving, right?
That’s the person on the other side of the listening.
The one opening up.
Sharing vulnerabilities, fears, dreams… hell even just speaking out loud the mundane frustrations that collect in the back of my head.
Because the truth is, I don’t let anyone hold my hand and tell me it’s going to be OK.
Is it because I think I’m tough? That I need to prove my competence? I spent seven years as an executive in the construction industry and there I certainly learned the importance – the necessity – of having a thick skin. Asking for help was often seen as a sign of weakness, especially for me as a young woman.
But I think I was a poor Receiver long before that.
I can remember a time in college when my roommates discovered – after four days – that my long-term boyfriend dumped me. I hadn’t told them because I “didn’t want to bother them.”
After they scheduled a Receiving Intervention with me – complete with Hostess cupcakes and Zima (it was the 90’s), they decided that something needed to be done. So in a show of protest, they all wrote “Bother Me” on their foreheads in black eyeliner and wore the sentiment all weekend across campus.
I never felt so loved.
And I know I’m not the only poor Receiver/Over-Giver out there because I see this over and over with my clients of both genders.
I spent the better part of the last six months working with my coach on first finding and secondly building my Receiving Muscles. It’s honestly been one of the hardest personal journeys I’ve been on. But what I’ve learned is that in order to do so, I need to hold myself equally as worthy as I hold my friends, my family and my clients.
Notice I am not saying better than (although even just typing that line made my over-stimulated forearms twitch), I’m saying equal to.
Meaning, that if a dear friend came to me with whatever load I myself was carrying that week:
- A missed opportunity at work
- Mounting frustration with a family member
- Feeling stuck in a relationship
- Disappointment in my child
Would I ditch her or would I sit down and listen?
Would I Give?
And if the answer is YES!!, then the response needs to be: how can I make space in my life to Ask for Support?
I encourage you to try it. The next time you are faced with challenge, notice the Autopilot of
Over-Giving squaring her shoulders and brusquely gearing up, saying things like “Muscle up.” Dig Deep.” “Soldier on.”
Notice her, and then gently invite her to sit down and find someone to bother.