Imagine you have a stack of one hundred $1 bills in your pocket to spend.
You go buy some food that costs $15. But instead you give the person $25.
Then you buy a shirt that cost $30, but you choose to pay $50 instead. You buy a cool gadget that cost $10 but you choose to pay $20.
So when you stop for frozen yogurt that cost $7, you’re very surprised when you can’t afford it. You only bought a $15 meal, $10 gadget, and $30 shirt.
How are you out of money?!
Well, you paid more than you needed to at every turn.
This example may be simplified and bizarre. Why wouldn’t you spend $20 on a $10 gadget? But we do this every day with the energy we spend.
We give away excess energy all the time, and then we wonder why we’re so exhausted.
This is the downfall to over-giving.
Being a compassionate, generous, giving person is an amazing trait, but at some point even amazing traits can be taken to the extreme.
Sometimes insisting your guest eats the last cookie might just make your guest feel sick. Sometimes inviting your friend who had a break up over every day that week stops them from facing themselves.
So how can you tell when you’re over-giving or just being kind?
It’s In the Subtext
Start by really listening to the intentions of the people around you.
We pick up on subtext and undertones from people all the time. Even over text and email, which is downright impressive.
Really paying attention to those hidden messages is the key to staying in harmony with giving.
If your guest looks off and has refused the cookie more than once, there’s probably a good chance your guest would actually like to refrain from eating the last cookie for some reason. But if they say no with a look of “if it wasn’t rude to say yes right away I’d eat it in seconds,” try asking again. They’ll probably take it.
There isn’t a science to knowing when someone is feeling one way or another, but if you really listen you can probably tell. As long as your mind is clear enough to hear them…
But Stress Is So Loud!
If you’re too worried, anxious, or stressed about the person you’re with, it’s a lot harder to really listen to them because there’s so much mental chatter going on in your own head.
It’s hard to hear through all that stress! It’s surprisingly loud.
Try taking a deep breath and notice what your personal thoughts/concerns are, and try to differentiate them from what you think you’re seeing.
If you’re really worried you didn’t make enough food, you might see hunger on your guest’s face even when it’s not there.
Take a beat and talk to yourself about the fact you’re just worried about the quantity of food, and you are most likely seeing that problem as a result, even if it’s not there.
You’re looking through a colored lens. Try to see past that and double check that you’re really trying to give to the person, and not just make up for your perceived concern.
Chances are, the other person doesn’t even know you’re worried, and probably isn’t even aware there might be something to be worried over.
If you’re unsure of whether they want to receive your offering or not, or you’re having trouble reading their signals, try offering once and leaving the offer on the table. Let your friend know they’re welcome over tonight.
If they deny the offer it, just let them know it’s theirs if they want it, and just let it be. If they really do want to come over, they probably will.
Helpful Tools Won’t Change Your Impulse
Although this may solve the immediate problem and stop the effect on the person you’re with, it won’t necessarily give you more energy or protect you from giving more of yourself than you need to.
You may keep wanting to pay extra for everything, and lose a lot of energy trying to stop yourself.
What you really want to do is try getting down to the root of the problem and figuring out why you want to keep giving more than necessary.
Are you afraid of other people’s judgment? Do you feel like you’re never given to enough? Do you feel like you have something to make up for? Figuring out why you feel the need to over-give will allow you to find a greater sense of peace in these situations.
Try journaling what you’re thinking and feeling and using that to help you uncover what’s behind your desire to over-give.
You deserve to hang onto the energy you have. You don’t have to give it all away to be a good person.
Giving is meant to be a gift, not a depletion of your life force. You have a right to give to yourself, just as it’s kind and right to give to others.
Or It Might Not Be YOU At All…
Finally, there’s once last reason you may be over-giving.
The person with you might be over-taking.
It’s possible you’re not even at the root of this problem!
Which is exactly what we talk about in our article, “Sometimes Your Friend Turns Out To Be A VAMPIRE!”