Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How to Give Without Expectations and Overcome the Need for Acknowledgement & Praise

Do expectations get in your way when giving?

Although I aspire to give without expectations, I know I’m not able to do so fully at the present time.

There’s so much I give freely without a second thought.  For example, each year, I carefully write 40,000 – 60,000 words on Always Well Within as a gift from my heart, nearly an entire traditional-length manuscript.

But other times, after giving, I go into an emotional nosedive when I don’t get the response I unknowingly craved.

Does that happen to you sometimes too?

A recent epiphany, after a bout of giving, uncovered how deeply I wanted to be seen, heard, and acknowledged in return for all that I shared.  Of course, that’s not my sole motivation. But I acknowledge there’s an unresolved wound that sometimes drives me, without my knowledge, until I feel a sting.

Here’s the remarkable piece.  The  willingness to be present to this insight and the pain it engendered, freed a piece of my soul from my aching for love.  Such a great gift my giving brought back to me, but only because I opened to the pain.

As a result, my funk dissolved. I picked myself up and carried on happily. In the next days, I let go of the need for attention, acknowledgement, or praise.  A friend even remarked that I seemed more confident than ever before. And, although it wavered momentarily, my commitment to giving without expectation feels stronger now than before.

Giving Without Expectations Helps You Too

As you can see, I know how challenging it can be to give without expectations, but I still think it’s important to try.  Here are my four reasons why:

  1. If you are giving to be liked or loved, you’re dependent on others who are erratic at best.  Thus you’ll never feel whole, complete, or satisfied.  Like drinking salt water, the more you drink, the thirstier you become.
  2. Difficulties, which is what often comes up when you don’t get what you expected, serve as our spiritual teachers.  If you’re able to stay open and look within at your own emotional mechanics, the blessings will heal your wounded places one by one.
  3. If you only received praise, you might get fatheaded.  But eventually, because the nature of everything is to change, your bubble will burst and you’ll be on the floor again.
  4. Most importantly, letting go of expectations reduces ego attachment, the constant whirl of “I, me, and mine” that creates all the suffering in this world to begin with.

That doesn’t mean you should strategically give just to benefit yourself.  You give simply because it is the right thing to do and in the recognition that we’re not separate from one another at all.

You have to go beyond the need for praise, if you want to find satisfaction and peace, don’t you?  If your intention is to be an expression of goodness and light, the path is not necessarily easy – that’s just the plain truth.  Selfless service does not necessarily bring prestige, recognition, immediate gratification, or even a “thank you” in return.  Sometimes, it just brings criticism.

So always examine your motivation for giving.  Naturally, being human, at times your motivation may be clouded by the hunger for attention, acknowledgement, or praise, as mine was.  When you notice this, open the door for healing to take place.  Realize that all the love that you need exists within you.  Pour your own love into you.

Then, when you feel ready, give to others as freely as you can.

Do expectations trip you up when you lend a helping hand?  Would you feel better if you could let go of the expectations and give freely from your heart?

Thank you for your presence.  May you  be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

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26 Comments

  1. As as artist who works in an open-to-the-public studio, I am always on display, so to speak. This is a form of giving —–inviting anyone in to visit while I am working—- and most people are very appreciative and respectful of my time. Occasionally there are folks who walk in and don’t say anything and walk out quickly, saying, in essence, that they don’t like the work. Yes, I KNOW it is all a matter of personal taste, but I always like for a visitor to at least say thanks—-and some, not many, do not. I am working on this in all areas, Sandra, and the best I can do right now is to notice it and try to release it. But by no means am I free of the need for recognition for giving. I tell myself it is better to give and to have to deal with these feelings than to not give at all 🙂
    Love to you!

    • Hi Jean,

      That would be very challenging for me too. That’s why I wrote this piece! This is so courageous > “I tell myself it is better to give and to have to deal with these feelings than to not give at all.” This is exactly how to heal the wound, isn’t it? But I understand, of course, that feeling the feelings is painful for awhile, during the healing process and that it can take some time to get to the other side. My heart s with you. This is exactly what I’m working on too. All my love to you. Thanks for sharing so honestly.

  2. I am a counted cross stitch designer and blogger. I just started blogging this year. In trying to grow my readership, it gets discouraging when I get no feedback. Thank you for reminding me about giving without expectation. I write because I enjoy writing. From now on when I hit publish, I am going to release it to the universe and think about how much pleasure it gave me to write it!

    • I so understand this, Anne! It’s very difficult to not feel discouraged in the face of so little feedback. I love interaction and it’s not easy for me either (that’s why I wrote this piece). The blog world is so different in these times than it was 3-4 years ago. I remember how heavy my heart felt when the comments began to drop off a few years ago as people shifted their attention to creating and interacting on their own social media platforms.

      I think you have a good solution for this! Also, know that people are reading and enjoying even if you don’t hear from them. One good way to get reader feedback is through a reader survey using a service like Survey Monkey or Typeform. That always fills me up with inspiration. I wish you the very best and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Like you before your aha Sandra, I haven’t thought much about giving with/without expectations. It’s wonderful that you caught what was happening in your consciousness and allowed it to be released in the way you did.

    Now that I am thinking about it…I suppose there came a time when I began to believe that everything I gave, in whatever way, would always come back round to me. Not necessarily in the same form, or from the people to whom I gave.

    And now I’m not sure if that’s giving, expecting to receive!!!!

    • That’s so interesting, Elle. I never thought about it specifically that way, but I do believe in karma and good eventually comes back as good thought there might be bumpy places in between. You have a beautiful heart and I have no doubt that you give very generously.

  4. Thank you for such a wise post, Sandra. Giving without expectations is a hard lesson to learn, but so important. As you say, having attachments is not really giving freely. It’s giving to get. That’s not really giving. In the end, it’s taking.

    I’m still working on that one, but so much better than I used to be. 🙂

    • I’m still working on this too, Debbie. I find it encouraging though that we both feel we’re better at this than before!

  5. Suzie Cheel

    Yes Sandra I relate exactly to what you are saying. Once we totally love and accept ourselves unconditionally I think then we can give without expecting in return. I think Elle has it , by believing what we give will come back to us, often not in the way we expect it to. Love Suzie xxoo

    • I think these two are connected too, Suzie. If we don’t love ourselves, we’re more likely to live with strings attached. So much depends on healing ourselves, but not getting overfixhted on ourselves either! Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. This has really made me think Sandra, and try to be more conscious of some of my underlying thoughts and beliefs. I would definitely agree that the more love you can create for yourself from within, the less that external appreciation becomes necessary, but I can also see it’s a very challenging thing to do. Something for me to meditate and journal on this week.

    • I appreciate how you are taking this to heart, Ellen! I hope your contemplations and journaling will prove rich and beneficial. Yes, I think this is hard to do! Certainly for me, that’s for sure. I feel it’s more like something we grow into with awareness over time.

  7. This is such a great reminder, Sandra. When I give of myself and don’t consider what is behind it, I can find myself disappointed because my expectations were not met. My shift has been to give and think of it as a gift with no strings attached. That way if there is a pleasant response, I’m grateful, but if not, I’m not disappointed.

    • You’ve really found a helpful key, Cathy. I think the trick for me is to keep this thought in my conscious awareness so I don’t get caught unawares. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. I have come to believe that expectations are the root of all negative emotions. And expectations assume that we can somehow control other people or circumstances (which is impossible in almost every circumstance). Once I got comfortable in my own skin, gave up my incredible control habit and stopped caring so much about what other people thought, I found it very easy to give without expectation. It may sound selfish, but I generally give because it makes me feel good. I can’t control how others react so I don’t worry about it. I think there’s a bit of Elle’s view in there too.

    • Your thoughts on expectations are so on target from my perspective, Paige. I feel the same way. The more we can let go of trying to control everything, the better. Congratulations on the huge leaps you’ve made. Sounds like you are so much happier and feel well in your skin.

  9. I very much relate to this post, Sandra Sophia. Like you, I am a person who is always willing to give freely…sharing my experience, my ideas and my help with others. Although I don’t expect anything in return, I sometimes wonder if I am selling myself short, as I don’t often ask for compensation for things I do, that others believe deserve compensation. One area I have been looking at in myself is my attachment to “Yes”. I put myself out in the world and am not very good at getting “No” answers. I do know that when you put yourself out into the world, whether you are giving to another or going out on a limb with a request, being attached to an outcome, leads to disappointment. I appreciate you sharing the points you did in this post. Food for thought to look deeper and to make adjustments to how things are perceived at my end. Thank you.

    • Dear Beverley,

      I appreciate how deeply you’re looking into this. It seems there’s always more we can learn about ourselves. This is so wise – recognizing how it’s all about attachment to outcomes. There’s so much we don’t control in this world and I feel too that we can relax when we accept that. I admire your willingness to look within! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Great subject. For the most part, I can honestly say I give without expectation. In fact, I give a lot anonymously for that reason. Where I faltered was when I was coaching. I put so much of myself into trying to help my clients and eventually I did find myself resenting it when someone didn’t notice that effort. Thankfully, I eventually realized the error of my ways and was able to engineer an attitude adjustment. 🙂

    • Giving anonymously, what a great way to let go of expectations, Marquita. Thanks for adding that thought. I can see how that would easily happen in a coach session. So good you could see this and make a shift. That takes insight and willingness. I admire that.

  11. I’m a kindhearted person by nature, Sandra, and tend to give without expecting anything in return. Fortunately, my parents taught me that giving comes from the heart and true generosity comes without caveats like expectations which dilute the act of kindness. Tough teaching to a human who has emotions and feelings. 🙂

    What I have discovered by detaching myself from the reciprocity aspect of giving is that I often receive more from the Universe when I need it. So its worth working towards building a good karma balance.

    • How beautiful that your parents showed you this precious gift of being able to give without expectations! I’m so happy for you. I think what you’ve said is so true. What comes back is often what we least expect, but someone how something does return. I’m a true believer in karma too.

  12. Sandra, this was a great post. When I continuously give I ask myself is it too much. However if it makes me feel good that I am helping others then it’s OK. I also need to detach myself of my thinking about it at times.

    • That’s a great yardstick, Tricia. I also get how thinking about anything too much can get in our way. Thanks for those perspectives.

  13. Thank you for the post! Giving without expectations is certainly something that more people need as a theme in their lives, including myself. If anyone out there needs a positive message to get the day going or just before you fall asleep, please don’t hesitate to follow my instagram @mygoodrisings (https://www.instagram.com/mygoodrisings/)

  14. This is a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! I hope to read more of your post which is very informative and useful to all the readers. I salute writers like you for doing a great job!

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