Do, Be, Give

This came to me in mediation the other night. There are three types of people. Givers, doers and be-ers. Until I spoke with a psychologist friend to verify this, I had no idea I was on track with my information. It made total sense to me so I was grateful for the validation from a professional.

Which kind of person are you?

Are you the one always giving to others? The ones making the meals for the new parents and the shut-ins? The ones always willing to lend a hand or offer a shoulder to cry on?

Are you the one who’s always doing? You can’t sit still, you’re active, you have to always be busy. Your love language is doing things for others.

Or are you the be-er? Be-ers aren’t as overt and they often get “dissed” as less important or misunderstood because they’re not front and center giving to everybody or doing everything for everyone.  Be-ers just “are.”  That’s not a negative at all. It’s actually a gift because be-ers can be in the present easier because they’re not always rushing around doing and giving.

Over-thinking is a down-side for be-ers and its side-effect is not being in the present. Healthy be-ers can be in the present. The present, as we know, is where the “magic” happens because we can be aware and notice what’s going on. Be-ers are great observers. They notice. They contemplate. They have awesome insights.

If the givers and doers could slow down long enough to listen to a be-er they could learn a lot! In my experience, they don’t. They might take in the wisdom of a be-er but they won’t act on it right away. They may think they know better until they let it sink in. And then they may not admit the be-er was right, but it’s not about being right.

All Three Types Help

All three types help in different ways. If you need something done, call a doer. They’ll be right there with their tools to help you fix a leak or plug a hole.

If you’re upset and want to talk, call a giver. They’ll listen for hours. If you’re stranded on the side of the road and need a ride home, call a giver, they’ll come and get you.

If you want help with insights, wisdom or new perspectives, call a be-er. If you need a problem solved, call a be-er. Doers and givers generally can’t sit still long enough to figure out solutions. That’s not to say they can’t, but be-ers are better at it.  Their downside is just that – always taking action, not slowing down. They don’t think before they leap, unlike the be-ers who tend to be more cautious.

One is Not Better than the Other

As with other personality attributes, none of these are better than the other. They just are. Just like being tall isn’t better than being short (unless you need to reach something on the top shelf!). You just are.

These aren’t absolutes either. Doers and givers can listen, but generally they’re too busy talking, doing or helping to listen.  Be-ers can give, they just give in less obvious ways. They give with their presence.

In our western society we’re taught to do, do, do. More action is better. (That’s a myth BTW but that’s a whole other topic.)  Giving is also highly valued. Who doesn’t love a giver or a people pleaser? They’re always there when you need them and they can’t say no!

But be-ers? Well, they’re the under-rated type. Westerners, particularly Americans, aren’t taught to slow down and just “be.” Asian cultures highly value that trait, but western society does not.  Eastern philosophy often talks about, “let it be,” “just be” or “be in the moment.” Be-ers can excel at that.

My Discovery into Be-ing

Currently I have a friend who has stage four cancer. We’ll call her Anne. When I first found out the news, I was completely devastated, shocked and sad. Before I could even think about it the givers were arranging meals (for her care-givers) and the doers were out buying things for Anne. I started to feel guilty that I wasn’t doing anything. She wasn’t up for visitors yet, she wasn’t talking on the phone. What could I do?

When I finally got the chance to visit her, I realized my value. I’m not the bossy type. I don’t come in and take over like some of her giver and doer friends would. I also don’t tell people what to do. I have known my friend long enough to know that even if I gave her advice, she’s probably not going to take it.

So, what do I have to offer?

While I brought food and other things when I visited, I realized it’s not about bringing stuff. It’s about being there for her. Just being.  She had a lot to tell me about her recent ordeal in the hospital so I just listened. I let her talk. I was just being.  My presence was helping her.

Just being didn’t stop me from giving too. I helped her get comfortable, rubbed her sore legs, brushed her hair. For once I could be the giver in our relationship. She even admitted she’s never allowed herself to receive as much as she has during this ordeal. I laughed and told her she’s right! I was pleasantly surprised she allowed me to give as much as she did.

Anne is a giver. Everyone loves her, she is always there for you, she gives.  And gives.  Now it was my turn to be and to give.

The Hidden Gifts in Be-ers

Through my meditation I also realized I am a be-er. Givers and doers don’t always value us be-ers because they’re too busy giving and doing as I said earlier. If they can be quiet long enough and go back and think about what we said, they can appreciate us be-ers. And some of them, like my friend, Anne, I think appreciate us be-ers because we’re always there to listen to the chatty givers.  We’re just there. We give them space. We allow them to be who they are.  We don’t challenge them, we just let them “be.”  

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most of us be-ers aren’t bossy. That’s not one of my traits. Givers and doers can be bossy because they’re always fixing things, making things right, accomplishing. Be-ers sit back, hold space for others and execute for themselves.

After I had this major insight in meditation, I realized I gave a great gift to Anne by allowing her to be who she was. I never threatened her with my overwhelming presence. I never challenged her firm beliefs. I respected them. Knowing she could be rigid and stubborn, I let her be. When my Spidey sense said something more was going on with her physically, I ignored it and allowed her to do it her way. To “be” her way. To die her way (when that times comes). Which is what she wanted.

That’s when I realized there’s real value in that.

Givers like to give and aren’t used to all the attention of others giving to them. When they’re sick and dying they’re really not used to it. And that’s where being a be-er came in handy. I stood back and gave her the space she really wanted. She wouldn’t have wanted me to be in her face every day telling her to go to the doctor. She would’ve rebelled against that suggestion and I knew it. So, I let her “be.”

And that, my friends, was the greatest gift I could have given her, a giver.

If any of you out there reading this are be-ers, please don’t downplay your presence. Don’t think you are less than because you aren’t a giver or a doer. I’m sure you give and do at times. The subtle, under-valued gift the be-ers give is being there. Listening, helping on a mental level, finding solutions, giving insights, holding space. Aren’t those worth something? If the givers and doers could slow down long enough to appreciate those qualities, they’d agree.

And Then There’s Takers

Just because you are not a giver does not mean you are a taker, either.  Technically there could be a fourth type – the takers. You know the saying, “Every giver needs a taker.” Takers suck energy. They don’t give back – ever. One thing they don’t take is the advice of the givers or the be-ers. They continue to ask for more and more of the givers and the doers. They suck you dry and see what they can get next.

Remember, one type is not better than the other. They all have their strengths, they all have their gifts, they just look different. The gift of the givers and doers is obvious. The gift of the be-er isn’t so obvious, but it is there if the other two are willing to slow down and see it. Or they may see it, they just don’t know they see it. As a result, they may never tell you that they appreciate you because they don’t realize how much.

It takes all types to make the world go ‘round. What would the world look like without all the givers and the doers? The answer is obvious. What would the world look like without the be-ers? Well, they’d miss us! They might not know they would, but they would.

Know who you are. Know your type. Embrace your value – whatever it may “be.”

P.S. If you’re not sure how to recognize one of the three types the givers will ask, “How can I help you?” The doers will ask, “What can I do for you?” and the be-ers will ask, “What do you need from me?”  The infrequently used question, “How can I ‘be’ of service to you?” takes on new meaning now.