Too often, I have observed that giving is not especially heartfelt, but merely a control mechanism: "If I give to her, she'll need me, keep me around, and then owe me." That's hardly the way to give. Yet, I think that while the MOTIVE for giving should be unconditional, the REAL drive behind it is, indeed, exquisitely selfish in that it can make you feel really good!
Recently, I did some favors for a man I was just getting to know. Eventually, he surprised me by doing a favor for me, something I had not requested. When I told him how touched I was, he said, "Well, with all the things you've done for me, ..." I said that I had had no expectation when I did him these favors, and he sounded surprised. His reaction told me he was used to conditional giving, and this was something he had not experienced before. It made me feel good to be this kind of inspirer, and provide for him an experience refreshingly different from what he had known ...
For me, one of the best parts of my summer was the give-back I did with inner-city teen girls in Los Angeles. I spent a beautiful week on the beach raising their self-esteem. When we parted, they glowed. They said they had learned to be IT GIRLS, an expression I use in my book, Teen Talk with Dr. Gilda. They learned my lessons well, and when we were posing for photos, I directed them, "Pose like an IT GIRL!" The group levitated. How great I felt!
The experience made me wonder if there really is such a thing as total unconditional giving. There was something specific I was after when I embarked on this venture, and it was the joy of seeing these innocent flowers open brilliantly before my eyes. Was this selfish on my part? You bet! Would I do it again? Yes... and again and again and again.
See the growth in the girls yourself on this 2-minute KABC clip that recently aired:
I'd love to hear your comments.