Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

“To give and not expect anything in return; to give for no special time or season; to give, not for any particular recognition; to give, not for a substantial tax refund; to give for the sake of giving — often just between giver and receiver — has a life of its own — an elevated one.” ~Glaceta Honeyghan

They say there are no selfless acts, because when you do something nice for someone else, you get (at the very least) a warm fuzzy feeling–but there’s a difference between benefiting from “good karma” and benefiting because you only help people with conditions attached.

Earlier this month, a woman I know told me that she couldn’t afford to buy school supplies for her kids. As a single mom who was unemployed, she just didn’t have the money. She had done everything she could to try to procure the things her kids needed for school–even called several charity groups in the area for help, but she got nowhere.

So, I did what anyone would do–I offered to buy her kids the things they needed to start school.

She was grateful, and that made me feel good. She insisted that she pay me back, but I kept telling her it wasn’t necessary. I knew she couldn’t afford to do it, and I didn’t offer to help because I expected anything in return.

I offered to help because I could afford to help, because I care about this person and her kids–and because I have been helped myself along the way. No strings attached.

She felt so strongly about giving back that she came over and helped me with some things around the house, which was appreciated but again, not necessary.

When Strings Are Attached

I have been lucky in my life to have supportive people around me, and when I’ve fallen in the past, they’ve helped me get back on my feet. I’ve always felt grateful for those people and the help they offered me in my times of need.

But in some cases, there were strings attached–like, if I help you, you have to agree to do what I want. Whether the giver expects money, love, support or something else in return, these “strings” can cause a lot of stress and negative energy for both parties.

Dawn over at Frugal Life offers a perfect example of this–a friend of hers offered her a monetary gift, but when Dawn said she wanted to spend the money on a bill, her friend told her that she needed to spend it on something nice for herself instead.

“I was a little upset that she had changed the ‘rule’ on the ‘gift’ and now it came with a condition,” Dawn writes. “She might as well just keep the money and use it on herself. Well, that wasn’t a good response and things escalated into a war of words–me accusing her of being materialistic and having a spend, spend mentality; and she accusing me of being tight fisted and not having any fun.”

See what I mean? Bad energy for all involved.

Pay It Forward Instead

As for me, I work hard to avoid attaching strings to any generosities I extend to my family or friends. It is human nature to expect something in return, of course, so I have to be very intentional about it. When people insist on “repaying my kindness,” I simply ask them to pay it forward–because for me, that’s the best gift they could offer.

As I said before, I have been helped along the way by many kind people, both personally and professionally–and that’s why I help people whenever I can–to pay it forward.

How to Give Without Attaching Strings

It’s simple: only give what you can afford to spare, and don’t expect anything in return from the recipient of your gift. You can, however, expect to feel great when you do this–which makes your energy and general vibration more positive. That, in itself, can bring more good things into your life.

When you give with strings attached, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Even if you get what you expect from the person you help, it won’t be because that person really wants to give it to you–it will be because he or she feels obligated to do so. And that, my friends, doesn’t feel good to anyone.

So, next time you help someone, do it without expectations, without “strings” attached, even if your human nature urges you to do otherwise. You won’t regret it.

Have you been the giver or receiver of gifts with strings attached? Tell me in the comments!






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8 Responses to No Strings Attached: The Only Way to Give

  1. Great blog! I’ve always felt that true giving is a very spontaneous thing – if you think too much about it, it can become all about you (conditions) and not merely for someone’s benefit. YAY for you giving that woman the funds for school supplies. Indeed – pay it forward – and never think “what’s in it for me?”

    • It’s funny you mentioned thinking about “what’s in it for me.” This morning, as we were waiting for my son’s bus, he mentioned to me that he’d found something my daughter was looking for and had made her happy, and then he asked me what was in it for him. So we had a discussion about giving without expectation–and that was one of the things I told him.

      Thanks for your comment suZen! 🙂

  2. Jen–I LOVE your trick! I am going to have to try that next time I hit Starbucks. How great that they trusted you enough to give you your coffee and donuts too. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  3. I love a “feel good” post, Angie — thanks!

    There are SO many ways to give of yourself, your talents, your knowledge, your resources, and your time — unconditionally!

    I enjoy being behind someone in line at a store when they’re rummaging around through their pockets or purse looking for a penny (or some other coin they need to round out the dollar amount of their purchase). I like to reach in my purse and hand it to them. It’s such a small gesture but it always puts a smile on someone’s face and they’re so grateful. 🙂

    Fellow bloggers and online marketers have lots of opportunities to help one another succeed without expecting anything in return — offering advice, answering burning questions, providing a free report or tutorial, directing people to resources and tools they need, giving technical support — the list goes on and on.

    What I love the most about this post is the principle that “paying it forward” is the BEST payment of all!

    • I couldn’t agree more, Melanie, and I love your way of paying it forward!

      I live in St. Louis where traffic can be seriously tough in some areas, so one thing I like to do is let people turn out in front of me and save them from waiting another few minutes before they get an opening.

      It’s the little things–random acts of kindness feel good! Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

  4. Hi Angie —

    Anyone interested in giving should consult Moses Maimonides’ 8 Levels of Charity.

    The highest is to help a friend find a job or learn an employable skill, and permanently resolve their money problems.

    The next is to give anonymously, where you do not know who the benefactor is, and they do not know who gave. This obviously guarantees a lack of self-interest in the donation.

    This video by my rabbi’s son explains all the levels in a cool way:

  5. Might be exceptional to find qualified people who have this issue, nonetheless, you sound like you are sensitive to what exactly you happen to be posting concerning! Thx.

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