There are two types of giving. Unconditional and Conditional.
- Unconditional is Spirit given and Conditional is man made.
- Unconditional feels good immediately and Conditional has the promise of delayed gratification.
- Unconditional is from the heart, Conditional is from the mind.
- Unconditional is a connection with soul, Conditional needs connection to others.
- Unconditional pleases both the giver and the receiver.
- Conditional needs conditions to be met to feel better.
- Unconditional Giving increases our energy and Conditional depletes it.
Difference Between Unconditional Giving and Conditional Giving
The difference between Unconditional Giving and Conditional Giving, is the intention. Unconditional giving has the intention of ‘giving because it feels good’. There is no other agenda and no thanks required. On the other hand, Conditional Giving is as the name suggests. Giving to get a return, whether praise, appreciation, acknowledgment. These expectations don’t seem so bad except that if those conditions aren’t met, there are negative consequences.
My Early Experience
This difference between the two types of giving was illustrated to me many years ago when I was a Promotion’s Manager for a charity organisation. I had both paid staff and volunteers to manage and one of the Fundraisers that came under my portfolio was a Thrift Shop. It had only a couple of paid staff, the other dozen or so people were volunteers. Each time I made an appearance, I was amazed at the amount of bitchiness, theft, resentment, complaints and numerous dissatisfactions from the volunteers. In a nutshell, they were complaining that their needs hadn’t been met.
This came as shock to me because I was witnessing people that said they wanted to help but it turned out there was a price, even if it wasn’t money. The price was much more difficult to deal with than finances as it was an unknown quantity. Everyone of them had different needs. If you’ve ever worked with volunteers before, you will understand that most tend to need a lot of praise and appreciation. Now I’m all for thanking people, but this is when I had a huge moment of clarity.
Conditional Giving Is A Crowded Path
I could see that the way I was brought up was the same as these people. I also needed that praise to make my giving worthwhile. They gave because they either thought they had to or because they expected others to fill their cup. This was two-fold. They didn’t realise they were doing it and it was making them miserable. This was a reflection of my life. That’s when my turning point came. I decided ‘no more’. I would choose to give just because it felt good, or not at all. I felt immediate relief and that’s how I knew it was right for me. I really, really did not want to be like the people I was witnessing. They just weren’t happy campers. This was why I had the realisation. I had thought that if you were retired and could afford to give your time, you would be happy to do so. But I was wrong. If you gave conditionally in the past, retiring is not going to make any difference.
The advantage of Unconditional Giving is the absolute freedom it provides. There is no expectation and nothing needed to feel fulfilled. The act of giving is the reward. It is satisfying, fulfilling, connecting and energising. And I decided I wanted that.
Are You An Emotional Caretaker?
A Caregiver is different from an Emotional Caretaker. A Caregiver is somebody who looks after a person in need, be it the elderly or a disabled person. This giving can either be conditional or unconditional. It’s your choice.
Not all people who give conditionally are Emotional Caretakers.
An Emotional Caretaker is a person who gives because they think that it will please others. They are one part of a relationship triangle. They feel guilty if they don’t help out, yet resentful when they feel they should. A Caretaker will give of themselves in an effort to make another feel good. It seems selfless until you understand that you really have no control over how another person feels. The condition is, that they must feel good and be grateful so that the Caretaker can feel good too. An Emotional Caretaker has an agenda that can be well hidden, even from themselves. When expectations aren’t met, there’s a negative emotional result.
How do you know if you’re an Emotional Caretaker? Caretakers focus on another’s pain so they don’t have to notice their own pain. They focus on another’s needs so they don’t have to look at their own. Always finding others to ‘help’ so that they don’t have to notice what’s going on in their own home. However, the giving is conditional. An Emotional Caretaker needs the receiver to be grateful, so that they can fill their own cup, otherwise they feel rejected and resentful. You can often recognise an Emotional Caretaker by their verbiage. “I give and give and feel drained at the end of the day”. Or “I have to learn to set boundaries” and criticisms like “You’d think they would be grateful”. I can hear you say “That’s me!”
What Are Emotional Caretakers Searching For?
We are taught to be Emotional Caretakers when we are young. It’s how we fit into the family unit. It’s not that anybody said to us “You must be an emotional caretaker”, but our mother or someone we admired probably did it, so we adopted the behavior from them. It had its own rewards. Society thought we were caring and loving. We were validated temporarily so we seemed to fit. However, this is hollow praise as it is outside of us and you can’t fill a cup by tipping water on the outside.
Not everyone wants to give unconditionally and that’s ok. There’s no judgment on how you choose to give. Many people are so accustomed to this style of gratitude that they either think they’re entitled to make others respond to them or they’re afraid to give it up for fear of feeling unloved. Conditional Giving requests praise and adoration. It’s a condition of the Giving, even if it is unconscious. Needing to feel accepted by others lies deep within the psyche, so if we don’t love and accept ourselves, we’ll look for it from others. Here lies the paradox in that acceptance. If we have a need to please and others don’t accept our giving graciously, then we feel resentful. If we give because we feel we have to, we feel drained.
Unconditional Giving fills you and Conditional Giving drains you.
Imagine Unconditional Giving as an unlimited source, such as a flow of electricity. The electricity is the power source and we are the lamp through which it flows. When we are plugged into the power source, we shine brightly. Our light shines for us and others are able to see because of the glow. Our light is unlimited as our power is unlimited. When we detach or unplug from the power source, we are limited in how much light we can give. Our power drains quickly, and even if we have reserves, we are soon depleted with no more to give.
When we understand how giving flows, we’re no longer limited by having to create boundaries as they become natural. Our priorities shift from how much can I give, to how brightly can I shine?
So how would I change the situation I found myself in with the group of volunteers at the Thrift Shop? I would change me and make sure I was plugged in to an energy Source. I would set my intentions to ‘feel good no matter what’, and I wouldn’t step out of my front door until I was plugged in. It just wouldn’t be worth it. I would much rather feel energised at the end of the day than drained.
The only difference between Unconditional and Conditional Giving is the Intention.
6 Steps to Unconditional Giving
If your Giving is Conditional and you would like to change it then follow these steps:
- Begin setting intentions to feel good, often.
- Take notice of your moods and
- What the expectations from others are.
- Notice the shift in your mood when something hasn’t gone as expected, especially if there wasn’t even an awareness of expectations in the first place.
- Note the way you enter that relationship triangle; by feeling sorry for someone or being manipulated in some way, feeling trapped.
- Keep a diary of these thoughts and emotions, it can help to extract them from your mind.
We have taught others we are Emotional Caretakers and now they expect us to act in a particular way. So be ready for the transition to freedom. It can be a bumpy ride but hang on, it’s worth it!
Continue your Journey with 6 Dimensions of Healing – Handbook
Gayle Maree is Life Engineer, Counselor, Mother, Entrepreneur and Eternal Optimist.
She runs a healing centre Stewart Natural Health, in Australia with her husband and Natural Therapist Allan Herring and has over 20 years of Personal Development Coaching behind her.
Gayle is Director and creator of 6 Dimensions of Healing, and designs bridges for people to build to get themselves from where they are now to where they want to be. Her book 6 Dimensions of Healing – Handbook is available now.