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Dr. George H. Green
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Strengthening the Mind-Body Connection since 1976.

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2004 Archives: The Truth About Giving

Dr. George Green presents ADD The Quest for Identity, Institute for the study of cognition and creativity, stressless life, stresslesslife, Biofeedback Center, ADD management, ADHD management, Pain management, Dr, Green, George Green, Brainwave Biofeedback, EEG, Incontinence Biofeedback, Neuromuscular re-education, NMR, Biofeedback Nevada.

"It's better to give than to receive." "Giving without thought of return is the greatest good." "Give 'till it hurts."

These are marvelous and wonderfully moral statements. Guidelines which we have been taught that are rules of conduct to be lauded.

Unfortunately, (You knew that was coming.) what we have been taught about giving is only half a truth. And it's causing a lot of stress. Admittedly, there is some logic in these lessons. And that is worth acknowledging.

As children we often get hung up on receiving gifts and manage to bypass the emotional content of the gift that speaks of the feelings of the giver. So we're reminded over and over by teachers, religious leaders, parents, social role models and public charities that of the two options, giving and receiving, the former has a greater value than the latter.

I'm always skeptical of things that require constant re-education, however. As with goal-setting workshops for corporations that must be presented repeatedly or the message is forgotten, the concept of giving seems to demand constant attention. Very few of us give enough, apparently, since the messages are everywhere all the time. We're made to feel guilty not just for not giving enough, but for receiving . . . anything!

I'm sure, in my own case anyway, that as a child I needed some reminding that my aunts and uncles were more important than the gifts they brought on my birthday. But something happened with this training. And it's happened to more people than just myself.

Let me digress for just a moment. There are a couple of philosophic points I'd like to make. Oriental philosophy has taught us that everything in the universe requires balance. As in the Yin and Yang. In the Zen experience this principle is presented as "all is one" and is taught by understanding that oneness comes from the composition of seemingly conflicting elements. A beautiful example that I was, uh, given many years ago is that of breathing. It's foolish to say that breathing in is better than breathing out since life is predicated on a perfect balance between the two.

And so it is with giving.

We are made to feel guilty for receiving. Yet we continue to receive. Guiltily. Embarrassed. Uncomfortably. All in all, pretty poorly.

Kahlil Gibran in "The Prophet" provides as his explanation for giving, "All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving be yours and not your inheritors'." To me that makes a lot of sense. Except I still have some use for much of my stuff like my meager savings or my jeep. I probably could afford to give more away anyway.

But to whom would I give? How can I contribute to the discomfort of so many people by imposing my need to give on them. By doing so I obviate their own potential for giving. Somewhere along the way balance seems to have been sacrificed for what would appear to be the good of a higher ideal. But, ultimately, we get back to breathing, in and out. Gibran concludes his passage on Giving in "The Prophet" appropriately with his own version of finding balance.

"And you receivers," he goes on, "--and you are all receivers--assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives."

And there it is. The secret they never told us. Learn how to be a gracious receiver because it is just as important as being a generous giver.

Receiving poorly could involve not feeling worthy of the gift. In this situation the giver is being made to take back the intent of their gift. The receiver mistakenly believes that by so doing perhaps someone more worthy will receive it. The giver, of course, experiences this as not being appreciated or even as rejection. This is probably not the message either has planned.

A poor receiver might even express (directly or indirectly) displeasure with the gift or could conceivably want more. Both would be hurtful to the giver and bring imbalance to the relationship. Or, as Gibran stated, the receiver could feel a debt that they must repay.

Now we look to the giver once again. To give is nice, but to give without the expectation of a return of any kind is a true gift. For both the giver who knows how to give and the receiver who knows how to receive can share the good feelings derived from sincerely helping someone or of bringing some happiness to someone's life.

And, just as with breathing, quality of life is enhanced by the balance.

 

Dr George Green, stressless life, stresslesslife, Biofeedback Center, ADD management, ADHD management, Pain management, Dr, Green, George Green, Brainwave Biofeedback, EEG, Incontinence Biofeedback, Neuromuscular re-education, NMR, Biofeedback Nevada, ADD The Quest for Identity, Institute for the study of cognition and creativity.