“We give, give, give, give, give, give, give…”

10 Apr 2012

If you’ve ever had a child, or been a child yourself, you probably know the song “Heigh ho” from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.  Strange as it may sound, emotionally abused women have a similar work ethic to the Seven Dwarfs. Remember these lines?

“We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine
the whole day through
To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we really like to do

It ain’t no trick to get rich quick…”

As you and I both know, most of the time, emotionally abused women don’t feel like singing.  But if we did, we might well sing our own version of “Heigh ho”.  It would go something like this:

“We give, give, give, give, give, give, give, in our life
the whole day through
To give, give, give, give, give give, give, is what we really like to do

It ain’t no trick to get happy quick…”

We see our give, give, give, give, give, give, give, giving is playing a long game.

Sooner, or later, it will have to pay dividends.  Won’t it?  Sooner or later, Mr Nasty,  he who is so unappreciative (and downright ungrateful) will have to be won over by our relentless generosity, and selflessness.  Well, won’t he?  And, maybe, so will a few of the other ‘takers’ in our life.

It’s a great theory.

It’s wrong… But it’s a great theory.

It’s a theory that appeals to our sense of fair play.  It reassures us that our  (obsessive) generosity will, one day, have its just reward.  We base our (wrong-headed) theory on how we would behave, if someone showed that degree of selflessness and generosity towards us – or any degree of consideration, at all.

That person would have our undying gratitude.  That person may well already have our undying gratitude for doing something so small and ordinary as to be negligible.  Or else, that person may enjoy our gratitude because he went through the motions, and then banged on endlessly about ‘everything’ he ‘does for you’.

We might react like that, but our theory is still wrong.

According to “Yes! The Science of Persuasion”*, Benjamin Franklin worked it out, rather a long time ago.  He speaks of “… the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which says, ‘He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”


When you stop to think about it, Benjamin is spot on.  We just hadn’t noticed.  Maybe being male – as well as a person of exceptional stature – enabled BF to be light years ahead of the game…  Well, our game, anyway.

Like me, you were probably brought up to be “nice”.  What that really meant was you had to “do” nice.  You had to prove to the world that you were sweet, and generous,and selfless, by falling over yourself, and doing back flips, to please people.

It didn’t work, did it?

“Doing Nice” didn’t impress them – and it certainly didn’t inspire them to reciprocate.  Although, on a good day, they might just have been inspired to make the right noises, or go through the motions.  Half-heartedly.

“Doing nice” doesn’t work.  Getting other people to “do you a kindness” does.

There’s a fantastic learning in Franklin’s words for us.  If a person won’t “do you a kindness”, or two, or three, what does that tell you about them?  And why would you want to associate with them?

The Seven Dwarfs were strange; likeable enough, but strange.  They enjoyed working their socks off, and other people reaping the benefits.  You’re not strange.  You aren’t one of the Dwarfsand you don’t enjoy working your socks off for little or no return.  You’re simply an inherently nice woman, who’s been misled by the misinformation you’ve been fed.

You’re an adult now.  You’re allowed to make your own choices and judgements.  There’s no way they can be half as wrong as the choices and judgements other people have made for you.  Benjamin Franklin got it right.  Your parents, most probably, got it wrong.

From now on, I’m incorporating Franklin’s wisdom into my life.  I hope you will, too.

* “Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion” by  Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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