How often do you give something to someone without expecting anything in return?
Most of the time, people are expecting to get something in exchange of the time and effort they spent helping someone else.
Do you know what happens when you start giving without expecting anything in return?
In this article I will show you why unconditional giving is your way towards more freedom.
The Limits Of Reciprocity
Have you ever bought a product you didn’t need because someone gave you free sample in a supermarket? Have you ever been tricked in giving someone something you didn’t want to simply because he gave you a something and get the whole reciprocity thing moving?
While reciprocity is a great thing to ensure that we all help each other and cooperate, it can also become a problem if you don’t know how to handle it.
Here are some things that may happen to you:
- You feel obliged to help someone even though you don’t have time
- You feel obliged to help someone while you could have done something more valuable for society and for yourself
- You do something that is not in line with your values or go against your standard of ethics in order to help someone
- You feel bad if you don’t help someone that helped you
Unconditional Giving As An Alternative Mindset
So far we mention the traditional mindset that most people take for granted: I gave you something so you are expected to give me something back in some ways. Or, you gave me something so I should give you something back.
What if there was another possibility? What if you could decide that each time you can think of a way to help someone, you will help that person without expecting anything in return?
You could contact someone because you found a great book that would help that person in his or her career. Maybe, someone you know is working on a project and you have the right skills to help him or her. Or perhaps, you’ve just discovered a great French restaurant you thought your colleague would love to take his new girlfriend for Valentine’s day.
You Don’t Owe Anyone Any Interaction!
When someone helps me in any way my train of thoughts is as follow:
I didn’t force them to help me, they chose to help me. Therefore, whether they expect me to help them in return or not is their problem. I have nothing to do with that. Sounds cruel?
Well, if people help you because they want you to help them, I don’t call that help, I call that manipulation. It’s like people who give you a free sample in the supermarket expecting you to buy the whole product because you feel the psychological need to reciprocate. That’s non-sense.
Similarly, I don’t want people to feel like they owe me something because I did something for them. I value freedom more than anything and I want people to reciprocate only if they really feel like it.
You don’t owe anyone any interaction and nobody owes you any interaction.
Free Yourself Through Unconditional Giving
Now, imagine that your mindset is: I help people without expecting anything in return, and in exchange I expect people to act the same. Are you going to feel guilty about it? Well, if you sincerely help people around you whenever you can you are likely to feel less the need to reciprocate in a mechanical way, that is: you gave me something so I need to give you something back soon and it should be of the same amount or value. Instead, you become more flexible and allow yourself more freedom.
Here are some benefits that unconditional giving will provide you with:
1. You Will Feel Less Obliged To Help Someone
Because you are constantly helping other people you have a broader view on giving. You stop seeing giving as a highly codified contract between two people. You see it as a flow going into any direction and coming from any direction. You help someone but you don’t expect him or her to help you in return. You have no expectation in term of what or when they should give something back to you, or even whether or not they will help you in return.
Also, because you help people around you as much as you can, you feel less the need to reciprocate when someone gives you something or helps you in anyway. You know that sometimes you will help people that won’t reciprocate in any way, but it is also true that you will also receive help from people that you may not help in return.
2. You Can Focus Your Time On What Really Matters
By giving unconditionally, you allow yourself more freedom in term of how, when, to what extent, and also whether you should reciprocate. You feel also less guilty about not reciprocating.
As a result, you can focus your time on what really matters to you. However, in order to do this, it will help you a lot if you are clear on your core values (See Step 3: Identify Your Core Values).
Well, I believe that it allows you to better focus on what you are good at and help as many people as possible rather than getting stuck in helping people with things that you are not good at, that are not in line with your core values or that are against your standard of ethics.
Thus, I believe that overall it is a better philosophy than to constantly worrying about whether you are reciprocating enough or even refusing to receive people’s help by fear of not being able to reciprocate.
3. You Can Receive Help More Freely
Often, people really want to help you and want you to succeed in life. However, for various reasons like pride or fear of disturbing other people, you may be reluctant to accept their precious help. Giving unconditionally to people will help you feel more entitle to receive their help.
Personally, I like to think of help as a gift people want to make you. Have you ever refuse a Christmas Gift from someone? I haven’t. How do you feel when you genuinely want to offer your help or give something to someone, and that person refuse it? Not so good do you? So do people who are trying to help you!
Start giving more and it will be easier for you to receive.
4. Giving Makes You Happy
I believe that we are designed to give. Studies actually show that spending money on others makes us happier than spending money on ourself. Giving makes us happy, but it must be a choice, not a duty. Unconditional giving allows you to tap into this natural instinct by freeing you from a rigid agreement or contract between two people that we tend to impose on ourself. Through unconditional giving, you gain more freedom in term of whether you should give something to someone and you can start choosing to give rather than just feeling obliged to.
Unconditional giving goes beyond the traditional concept of reciprocity. It sees giving and receiving as a flow and prevents us from getting stuck in rigid relationships that are neither beneficial to us nor to society as a whole.
What about you? Are you practicing unconditional giving? If not, how do you think unconditional giving could help you in your life? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
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