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Excerpted from Give to Your Heart's Content by Linda Harper. Copyright © 2002 by Linda Harper. Excerpted by permission of Innisfree Press.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Outcome-oriented acts of giving lack soul because the giver’s fulfillment depends upon external events."

  Linda Harper
Give to Your Heart's Content
, Part 1

Most of us aspire to become more giving people. We want to be good and caring. We teach our children not to be selfish, to share and give freely to others. But too often we find ourselves saying "yes" to requests when we really want to say "no," and our giving becomes a forced act. We want to "do the right thing" but end up feeling exhausted as we try to squeeze one more act of giving into our busy days. Our ambitions become a set-up for feeling inadequate. Our strained efforts block the natural flow of giving from the soul.

When we give, we often evaluate the experience—consciously or unconsciously—with one of these questions:

Was my gift recognized and appreciated?

What did I get for my efforts?

What did I accomplish?

What we do not realize is that these questions contain a fundamental flaw: They focus on outcome, on the results of our actions. Outcome-oriented giving produces three kinds of unnatural givers: the TRADER, the MARTYR, and the CONTROLLER.

  • The TRADER gives expecting something back and feels resentful when the exchange does not seem fair.

  • The MARTYR ignores personal needs in order to please others and is disappointed when the sacrifice goes unnoticed.

  • The CONTROLLER gives expecting to see particular results and is frustrated when things do not turn out as planned.

By focusing on outcome, all three of these givers deprive themselves of the full meaning and joy of giving. Outcome-oriented acts of giving lack soul because the giver’s fulfillment depends upon external events. Most of us have experienced this loss of soul that comes from outcome-focused giving.

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