Many empaths and beginning intuitives have fallen into the trap of giving too much of themselves away. We believe subconsciously that the way to receive love is to earn it by doing loving things. As children we may have been taught that doing loving things and making others happy is what it means to be a good boy or good girl. If we believe this, we may ignore our own needs, or we may come to believe that we have no personal needs, that the only need we really have is to make others in our lives happy with us. When we have taken on this Giving Persona, we are hypervigilant to the needs of others, and always ready to please. When healthy, people with this personality type can be very generous and loving, but they have figured out how to access their own inner needs and honor those needs before and sometimes instead of the needs of others.
Most giving persona people are easily manipulated by the people around them by their using the standard guilt trip—“I will be unhappy if you do not do this,” or, “How can you do that when you are making so many others unhappy?” Because the Giving Persona genuinely feels that his value in life depends on if he is loved by others, if it ever appears that someone is unhappy with him, he will work very hard to placate the other. This type of person can find themselves trapped in situations in which they can’t make everyone happy in their lives, and therefore they blame themselves, see themselves as failures, and feel like they have no value. (See the essay, Forgiveness:Setting Boundaries for a description of how a client set aside his Giving Persona and was able establish good boundaries with his family members.)
While a person with a Giving Persona is easily manipulated by others willing to use guilt and emotional pressure, the Giving Persona can also be manipulative and unhealthy. One example is one who tries to please so much that he doesn’t bother asking what is actually pleasing or wanted by the other party. When the other becomes smothered enough by so much “help and support”, and tries to leave the relationship, the giving person will complain with, “But I gave you this,” or, “I did that for you,” not comprehending that he cannot buy someone’s affection and loyalty with loving deeds, and not understanding that his deeds come with expectations attached. They may think of themselves as selfless and completely loving, but in reality they are needy and dependent.
Empaths tend to fall into Giving Personas because they are trying to function in a world in which most of us do not honor our emotional bodies. For the empath, the emotional plane is a reality. By controlling this reality by making everyone happy on the outside, the empath can feel very safe. Pleasing others is a way to win safety, stability, and love. It’s a way of belonging and finding order in a chaotic emotional world that most people ignore and suppress. A person with a Giving Persona tends to avoid conflict and any emotional discomfort as often as possible. In fact, if there is conflict in their lives, they are sure to feel that it is their fault for not being able to resolve it somehow and will do anything, even at the cost of themselves, to make the people in pain around them feel better.
When empaths move toward maturity and awareness, the first thing they must do is learn to set boundaries with the very people to whom they have been giving their emotional energy away. This can feel to the empath like a betrayal of the other—the empath is literally picking up on the other’s emotional state. The other has likely become dependent on the Giving Person’s loyalty and support—losing that support can mean having to face themselves. (The classic co-dependent is a Giving Persona) But by acknowledging how much of the Giving Person’s power and life force is invested in pleasing others, and by learning what pleases themselves separate from others, they can finally embark on what they are meant to do in the world as individuals.
Most of my clients suffer in some degree or other from a giving persona. They do not realize that by over-giving, which means by not receiving as much as they give, they are at least subconsciously trying to feel valued or even feel superior to other less selfless beings. This over giving prevents them from feeling the pain of their deep belief that they are unlovable unless they earn love. By freely giving with no expectations of any appreciation or love, they are stepping into full maturity. By allowing others to be responsible for their own emotional reactions, and by trusting that those people, whether they believe it or not, can handle their emotional reactions, they give back power to their love objects. Most of these love objects are not happy at the new change in the relationship, and some will not adjust. This is the critical point in which the healing person with the Giving Persona must stand firm and not placate the other, in spite of the pull to do so.
People with the Giving Persona, once they begin focusing on their own needs, discover themselves as individuals, separate from the needs and feelings of others around them. This self-discovery can be horrifying as they realize that everything that motivates them in relationships has had strings attached. The meaning in their lives (earning love and appreciation) has to change from the external interaction with others to the internal one with their essence. Many people with the Giving Persona suffer greatly as they move through this phase of individuation. They will at first berate themselves for being unloving toward others, (and those others will tend to agree with them) and then they will usually fall into a depression around the meaning of their existence.
Once they are able to forgive themselves for previously unseen manipulative and subtlely arrogant behavior, and offer themselves the love they had been offering the people around them, they heal and become some of the most self-loving and tolerant people on the planet. In the end, they are finally able to receive as much support as they tend to give away. They are able to experience reciprocal loving support, which always comes with no expectations or strings attached.
In the end, people with a Giving Persona can become very loving human beings. But, the whole key is to go down to that subconscious level and realize that their worth does not depend on how much they please others, how much they give to others, or how much joy they bring to others. Once they start valuing themselves and their individual needs, they become a whole person. Once they are whole, they are truly able to support the others around them.
Want to know more? See Riso and Hudson’s Personality Types, and their description of 2’s.