A bridge too far and a bar too high

Giving is something you love to do. You give of your time, your money, and yourself.

This is a wonderful thing, as you love to bring joy to those you care about.

Whether you realize it or not, every time you give, you set the bar and pay a price. This may go exactly as planned, or you may have set your sights on a bridge too far.

Company for dinner? You spend a whole day cooking a gourmet meal fit for a king, from amazing appetizer to delectable dessert, served with a side of indigestion and weight gain.

Family for holidays? You clean and prepare for days, and then become a one-woman wait-fest, followed by a major crash from the stress and the effort.

Christmas gifts? You plan and plot for weeks to purchase a marvelous mountain of presents, only to be crushed by credit card bills.

I am not saying that every occasion for giving ends this way. However, I have heard too many times from women who are just feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and resentful because of their giving.

It does not have to be like this. There is a better way that will leave you a more joyful giver.

 

Why do you give?

 

Oftentimes, you are so eager to please that you lose sight of the reason why you are giving. Instead, you just may have subscribed to the equation of more equals better.

If dinner with friends is good, then a magnificent dinner will mean you’ll have an even better time.

If a clean house is good, than a home with a floor you could eat from will create a more enjoyable evening.

If having friends over once a month is good, having more of them over every week will equal more joy.

 

What motivates you to fall into that trap?

 

You have scripts—about cultural mores, peer pressure, guilt, one-upmandhip—running behind the scenes in your mind, possibly without your knowledge or consent. Somewhere, somehow, someway, these scripts were laid down as the the playbook for how things are done.

It’s not a perfect dinner unless everything is made from scratch, it’s a seven-course meal, or there are ten desserts.

It’s not the perfect holiday unless you do it just the way mom does, have the entire family over for the week/weekend and wait on them hand and foot, or until every square inch of your home is covered with lights and decorations.

It’s not Christmas unless you buy everything on your child’s list, snag the hottest toys, or spend thousands of dollars of gifts.

These examples may make you laugh because they seem ridiculous, or because you’ve been frustrated by someone who lives by them, or because you recognize them as your own.

 

You need to pinpoint the scripts and rewrite them.

 

Take some time to journal what it is about giving that makes you feel anything but joyful. If you don’t keep a journal, grab a pad of paper and start there. The answers will come.

Be patient as you work to figure them out. You can ask your loved ones for their opinions as well. Just request that they be truthful and gentle with their responses.

Once you have pinpointed one or more of these scripts, write out what you would like instead. Be sure to include the benefits of the new script.

For example, let’s assume you make enough food to feed an army when you are only feeding a gathering of eight. Benefits would be a financial savings, less time and stress in the kitchen and more time with your company, and fewer guilty feelings from your guests about all the money and time that was spent on the food that went untouched.

Recognize that this can feel like a big change, especially since this script may have had years to carve out a well-worn path. Give yourself permission to take baby steps and embrace the benefits to a more positive script.

 

Living by your freshly revised playbook

 

Lean on your Why Power

One of the most important supports for where you will now set the bar is understanding and leaning on your Why Power, a phrase I picked up from author Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect.

I quoted him in my free ebook, Practicing Gratitude Discovering Joy:

Forget about willpower. It’s time for why-power. Your choices are only meaningful when you connect them to your desires and dreams. The wisest and most motivating choices are the ones aligned with that which you identify as your purpose, your core self, and your highest values. You’ve got to want something, and know why you want it, or you’ll end up giving up too easily.

He goes on to write about your core motivation:

The access point to your why-power is through your core values, which define both who you are and what you stand for. Your core values are your internal compass, your guiding beacon, your personal GPS. . . . In fact, psychologists tell us that nothing creates more stress than when our actions and behaviors aren’t congruent with our values.

This goes to the heart of why you may have been unhappy with your giving: Your choices were not connected to and congruent with your desires, dreams and core values. Everything has to align for happiness to blossom. Connecting with your Why Power will give you the courage of your convictions and the strength you need to maintain these new scripts.

 

Let others know about the change

Many people don’t react well to surprises, so this is important to handle as soon as possible with grace and love. For example, if you are going to change how you cook for and feed your visiting family, let them know. I know a mom who did this, and although she was nervous, she said the holiday was so much more relaxing and enjoyable. She had lots more time to spend with the family and far fewer leftovers to deal with when the kiddos all went home. If you find yourself wavering at all, remember the benefits of the change and hang onto your Why Power.

 

Focus on the new script

Think about your script as a new branch off the old, established stream. As you dig out the new path for the water, the old way will eventually, naturally dry up. You don’t have to pour a lot of energy damming up the old behaviors. Just put your energy into making a new path for what you want instead.

 

Encourage yourself

Remind yourself of the reasons behind the change and what you hope to gain. Remember as well you are human, and a work in process.

 

Pray to let go of the old and embrace the new

I know I encourage you often to pray. There is a reason for that: Prayer works. :-)

 

Now you know more about what has been driving you to set the bar where you did and why it made you feel worse instead of better. You also now know that making the switch to a more positive script is not a bridge too far, but just a matter of digging out a new path, one small step at a time.

 

Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.  ~2 Corinthians 9:7  (CEB)

 

Questions: What is the script you would like to change the most? Have you successfully changed a script? How did it work out? Do you need some help getting through this? Jump into the comments and join us. Many minds make good conversation and great support! Click here to comment.

 

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Comments

  1. love this, Kim! i am the one who plans big then spends all my prep time in a very foul mood! getting my expectations in touch with reality in order to better enjoy the time–the gift!–would benefit me greatly. great, practical tips here on how to do that.
    i always love how you break things down and make them very doable :-) and a blessing.
    have a blessed day!
    steph
    HopeUnbroken recently posted…letters from God–E is for enoughMy Profile

    • I hear you on that one, Hope! This is partly where this post originated-from my own struggles with resentful giving. Thanks so much for your kind words. I am so grateful to be able to help others!

  2. I love this, Kim! The content is great and it’s so well-written… Sounds like you share my Guide to Life principles of “examine yourself” and “know your rules!”
    Auntie Em recently posted…Whatever…My Profile

    • I think we share a lot in common, Melinda, especially our love of helping and teaching others. I really appreciate your sweet words!

  3. As always, you give us such rich and deep words of wisdom, Kim. I especially agree with the need to journal. It brings truths up from our souls that we didn’t even know were there. I have to believe it is one way, among many, that God speaks to us. I also really enjoyed your e-book. You did a great and thorough job of researching and presenting it!

    • I am humbled by your words, Beth. Thank you so much! Journaling is so incredibly powerful, isn’t it? I think the results—those words that just flow out of your scribbling pen—can really take you by surprise when you first begin the practice. I know I am still in awe of what shows up on the page!

  4. This is great, Kim. I was eager to click at the shortened part of the post, where you wrote: “There is a better way”! Your advice to look more closely at why we go beyond (to the point where it’s not helping anyone) is wise. I will pay attention to my scripts!
    Dr. Ann recently posted…How To Get Calm And Stay Connected During A ConflictMy Profile

    • You make me blush with your words, Dr. Ann! I hope you find this information and encouragement useful!
      Your series on conflict is great, btw!

  5. I love how you bring motivation and intention to this. I am learning more and more to give for the love of giving – with no ulterior motives. This has freed me up in many ways to give what I can and really enjoy it!
    ilene recently posted…The Sisterhood of the Traveling Manpants {It’s My SITS Day!}My Profile

    • Loving how you give is such a powerful blessing, isn’t it Ilene? I often am amazed at how humbled and joyful I am when I give from the heart for reasons that line up with my dreams, desires and values. I am so glad you have found freedom in giving that aligns with who you are!

      Congrats again on being featured at SITS. Woot, woot!!!!

  6. Kim, this post is AWESOME and I think it’s my favorite one of yours. Would you be willing to share this in a guest post on my site? I’ll email you :)
    Thanks for sharing such a GREAT message!
    Susan Stilwell recently posted…Frazzled, But Thankful (and Compassionate)My Profile

    • Wow, Susan. You bring tears to my eyes with your generous words. I am so glad it resonated with you and I am tickled pink that you would like to share it. Got your email and have responded. Thanks so much, and you are very welcome!

  7. Kim great and very relevant post! I can definitely relate! I have changed some of my scripts and one of the most powerful things that caused me to rethink how I did things and why they had to be that way was when we went back to Tennessee when our children were young for a visit (we lived there when we were first married) and a neighbor invited us for dinner. She served Dominos pizza and sliced up a watermelon for dessert. For someone who always cooks from scratch, especially when entertaining – this was amazing to me. And it was a wonderful, relaxed, enjoyable visit! So I have learned to focus my attention on those visiting more than on how clean my house is or what I serve!

  8. What a great story, Ann! Isn’t it funny that we almost have to be given permission to do something so radical as to serve pizza and watermelon? I’m so glad you shared your example, and especially glad that you used it to change the way you give and where you focus your attention. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation!

  9. SOOO much freedom in this post Kim…I love it!
    I’ve been really working to let God help me rewrite those scripts and to remember that HE is the one I am trying to please! Great post!
    Kara recently posted…If It Was My Fish…My Profile

  10. I love that, Kara! Freedom, freedom. . .now that old rock song is playing in my head. :-)
    Ah, yes. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Why is it that we keep scribbling on the page over what he has written for us? We can behave like such little children so often!

    Thanks for adding your perspective and voice to the conversation! I appreciate you stopping by.

  11. Kim,

    Just the reminder about all of the extra requests for giving gave me some momentary stress. Somehow when people ask for donations, it becomes more of an obligation than a cheerful gift. I tried to make a new rule to give “something” even if it’s just change, but I admit I don’t always do it because I get annoyed that every time I go to the grocery store, the pet store, Walmart, etc. I get asked to donate to something. However, I still enjoy giving to my favorite charities — the things I’m passionate about.

    As for the other type of giving — hosting a party, etc. I’ve definitely stopped trying to impress anyone. I’m all about making it simple — burgers and paper plates, so we have more time to visit.

    Have a Victorious Day!
    Marianne

    • Marianne, thanks for sharing such a thoughtful response! Just reading your response made my blood pressure rise along with yours! I feel bad, but there are times I avoid folks who are asking for money. That obligation you note really takes the cheer out of giving. Thanks so much for taking the time to travel on over from 48 Days!

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