Giving and receiving is one of the greatest pleasures in life. It makes us feel good to give to others, knowing that it helped them to grow. It makes one feel wonderful to feel they have given to themselves and have grown and developed inner strength from it.

To give to others, we must ask ourselves, "Where is our heart?" Some people give and sacrifice all their energy to others until they have no energy of their own remaining. Many people give totally based on the pleasure they receive by giving, with no consideration whether the recipient wants the service. Others may give so that the recipients will become dependent upon the giver.

To truly give from the heart is to love, and love is helping oneself or another to grow spiritually. So when we give, do we just give and give until we can give no more, basing our amount of pleasure in proportion to our amount of sacrificial giving? When helping a child to grow, some parents will give them everything that they ask for, no matter what it may be. This usually produces a grown adult who expects to be given everything in life and has not learned how to acquire things for themselves. Where do we draw the line with how much we are to give?

To give effectively, one must give as long as the service is helping someone to grow. A parent should provide service for a child to the point that it is helping them to grow, learn and become dependent on themselves. Sacrificing beyond that is doing you and others a disservice. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." When we give to others, we should ask ourselves if our service is helping the effected parties to grow. Is it teaching them how to fish, or is it just giving them or us short-term satisfaction?

Before we begin to give to others, we must first ensure that we have serviced ourselves. We must make ourselves number one. We must become selfish. Though this is contrary to religious teachings, we cannot freely give to others until we feel good about ourselves and fulfill our own needs. If we have needs to be fulfilled within ourselves and we spend all of our energy trying to give to meet people’s needs, our feelings become dependent upon the reaction of the recipient of our giving. It is known as being co-dependent when your feelings are dependent upon how much someone else needs you or likes you.

Some people will use the business of giving to others as their excuse to not give to themselves. Their whole life is wrapped up in everyone else’s problems to the point that they don’t have the time to deal with their own problems. Many parents live their lives to give to their kids, only to find that when the kids grow up and leave home, they have not taken the time to give to themselves or their relationship. They come to the very scary place of being middle aged and not knowing who they are or what they want. Many spirits marry very young and spend their early years giving to a marriage, family and home – but not to themselves. Then when they reach the age of 30, they want to leave it all to give to themselves and discover who they are.

Once we give to ourselves and find our own strength and fulfillment within ourselves, then we can freely give to others for the right reasons. Then when we give to others, we can ask ourselves if this service is helping the recipient grow and become more of who they really are. Is this service teaching them how to fish – or is it just giving them a meal for one day?

Giving to others and ourselves is a great pleasure. It makes us feel good to know that we have freely chosen to help others to grow. It makes one feel wonderful to have grown and developed inner strength from providing service to oneself. It makes one feel good to think that they may have freely given to others to help them grow, through writing this article.

Michael Underwood is a spiritual teacher, healer, minister, psychic and professional musician. He performs public speaking on spiritual principles, positive motivation and team building for spiritual and corporate organizations, and conducts individual and group sessions on how to balance and use spiritual principles. Michael is a minister for the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community and an executive for Mid American Energy Corporation. Contact him at mcunderwood@comcast.net Copyright © 2006 Michael Underwood. All rights reserved

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