Posted by: coachingparents | April 2, 2008


By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. 
There are two kinds of giving: one is manipulative, the other is 
freeing.   The manipulative giver is one who believes that giving is a 
way to get what he wants or needs.   This is truly selfish giving.   
Manipulative givers expect something in return for their gifts.   Not 
only are material gifts expected, often non-material returns are 
expected.   We all know the giver who, in return for their gifts, 
expects love, loyalty, emotional support or reassurance.   These are 
psychological gifts. 
A more subtle form of manipulative giving is the caring professional 
whose only motivation for care giving is to earn money.  This is the 
person who shares his/her talent or skill for a  purely selfish 
reason…to get money.   This singular motivation often results in 
their own emptiness or “burn out.” 
An even subtler form of manipulation through giving, is the person 
who wants to improve his self-image or “feel better about myself” by 
giving.   The most obvious giver of this type is the self-sacrificer 
who gives away that which he wants or needs himself.   The 
self-sacrificial giver also hurts or defeats himself by giving. 
Then there are the “people pleasers” who give to others out of fear 
of what others might think of them if they do not give.   These 
manipulative givers believe their giving controls what others think, 
or how they behave, especially toward them.   Their belief is, “If I 
give enough, they will like me, think more highly of me, or approve of 
Free giving is usually called, “generosity.”  The free giver has no 
concern about the outcome of her giving.   She is generous by nature.  
 Her way of being in the world is characterized by giving…for no 
You may be generous by nature, or you can develop a generous nature as you would any other skill.   If you become freely giving, the 
psychological rewards can be tremendous.   However, reaping those 
rewards is not the desired outcome of your giving.   They just happen 
to occur. 
Most traditional spiritual teachings describe the benefits of 
giving.   Examples include: When people are generous, others usually 
love them; when we give, we receive; it is better to give than to 
receive; people who are generous can enter any group without fear.   
Almost all religious faiths teach the benefits of “cheerful giving.” 
From a psychological standpoint, giving freely is in itself, freeing 
to the giver.   Giving freely is very powerful.   Generosity develops 
psychological qualities of “letting go” of greed, avarice, envy, 
grasping, clinging, dependency, guilt and self-imposed limits. 
The Buddha is to have said, “If you knew, as I do, the power of 
giving, we would not let a single meal pass without sharing some of 
it.”  Sharing of food is a metaphor for all giving.   When we offer 
someone food, we are not just giving that person something to eat.   
We are giving energy, strength, health, vitality, beauty, clarity of 
mind, even life itself, because without food, life does not continue. 
Figuratively speaking, when we have meals that fill and satisfy us, 
and we share them with others, we are giving far more than food.   We give knowledge, honesty, compassion, joy, peacefulness, caring, and love.   When we ourselves are full of these qualities, and we share 
them, what we are offering is the fundamental substance of 
psychological health. 
Buddhist mediator, Susan Salzberg, writes: “Generosity’s aim is 
twofold: we give to free others, and we give to free ourselves.   
Without both aspects, the experience is incomplete.   If we give a 
gift freely, without attachment [r to the outcome]s  …it celebrates 
freedom both within ourselves as the giver and in the receiver.   In 
that moment, we are not relating to each other in terms of roles or 
differences.   In a moment of pure giving, we really become one.” 
Remember, the most basic drive for every one of us, is a longing to 
be well and happy.   Engaging in an act of generosity acknowledges our oneness in this drive.   Practice the art of freely giving, and you 
experience the unity of all humankind.   After all, we are all in this 
life together.   We might as well share life as we live it.   In doing 
so, psychological health and happiness is assured. 
Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and 
Licensed Psychologist.  He is available for coaching in any area 
presented in “Practical Psychology.”  Initial coaching sessions are 
free.  Contact him: (970) 568-0173 or E-mail: 
Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life 
coach.  He serves on the faculty of the International University of 
Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams) 
the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and 
Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!” (W.W. Norton 2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on 

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