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Authentic Giving

It’s the holidays and the expectations around giving go way up. These expectations live inside of us and exert a not so subtle pressure. They are also outside of us in the form of people (family and friends who depend on us to make things awesome) and in the culture with 24/7 advertising telling us the meaning of family.

Add to this mix the fact that women are hardwired to give and are forever getting out of balance playing the giving game. It is a constant, internal tug of war for women between what we want for ourselves vs. what others want from us. Not to mention what we demand of ourselves in relation to the people we care about.

If authenticity is the name of the game, how can we give authentically? What is it that will guide us so we don’t “shop till we drop” and volunteer all of our time away? Let’s go back to our trusty Game Board. (Click here to read Part One of the Game Board).

On the left side of the Game Board are emotions like frustration, guilt, anxiety, fear and anger. On the right side of the Game Board are emotions like joy, care, appreciation and peace. To give authentically, you must be on the right side of the Game Board. Sound easy? Not necessarily.

You want to make your loved one happy and you know exactly what gift would send them over the moon. You imagine seeing the surprise and joy on his or her face when it is opened. There is one little catch. This gift costs a lot of money. It would break your budget and then some.

Where are you on the Game Board in relation to this gift? If you think only of giving the gift you are on the right side in joy. If you think about spending the money you are on the left side in deep anxiety. What do you do? What is the authentic choice?

Authenticity is always on the right side of the Game Board.

Now that might make you say, “OK, then I get to buy the gift.” Not so fast. To be authentic you must also deal with what is happening on the left side. It’s valuable information that must be considered. You have two equally viable points of view; “It’s the perfect gift and I want to buy it” and “It costs too much money and I am out of integrity spending this amount of money.”

The process of reconciling these two truths (one will ultimately dominate) allows you to move toward your authenticity. It’s all about you and your values. At the end of the day, when all is said and done you do want to be solidly on the right side of the Game Board with your choice, not split. You don’t want to buy the gift and carry the anxiety. You don’t want to skip the gift and carry resentment and regret.

Authentic giving is guided by the heart. Of these two compelling truths which one is your heart telling you to stand in?

Years ago, there was a workshop I really wanted to attend. It was very expensive. I could feel how much I wanted it and I could feel my anxiety about spending the money. I decided to sit with the inner conflict for the whole day and see if my anxiety dropped. All day I checked in and all day the anxiety was glowing like hot coals at the bottom of a barbeque. By the end of the day I knew I could not attend the workshop. My anxiety was my warning sign, letting me know I was out of integrity. I felt so good saying no to myself and keeping my integrity. What is more authentic than living in integrity?

This holiday season pause frequently. Check in and ask yourself, “Where am I on the Game Board?” If you are on the left side, don’t take action. If you are conflicted, don’t take action. Wait until you are solidly on the right side. That’s the authentic you, the place you want all your giving to come from!

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