Are You An “Angry Giver”? John Page Burton


Hi, my name is John and I’m a recovering “angry giver”. This is how I introduced myself to the audience at a recent relationship seminar where I was privileged to be the guest facilitator. As a participant in the morning session, I couldn’t help but chuckle at all of the proclamations of “self sacrifice”, “tireless giving”, “putting life on hold for family”, “doing it all for the kids”, “having nothing left at the end of the day”, “this is what breadwinners do”, blah, blah, blah. These self absorbed statements were not gender specific, they were exiting the mouths of both male and female “angry givers”. What made it even more humorous was the fact that this had been my belief system and speech pattern for longer than I cared to remember.  I was the “angry giver” who never said NO. “Sure I’ll coach the ball team”, “no problem, I can fill in for you this Saturday”, ” yeah we can use my house for the party”, ” go ahead, take my car”, “wherever you want to eat is fine with me”, “here you go, pay me back when you can”. “Angry givers” tend to be masters of justification, I know that I certainly was. I could always come up with a justification for my need to be needed. Inside, I was worn out and pissed off! Let’s take a closer look at “angry giving” and where it tends to show up in our lives.

Defining “angry giver”. An “angry giver” is a person who routinely puts their needs on the back burner in order to “please” others. On the surface it sounds quite noble but in reality it is an emotionally destructive behavioral pattern.


The “angry giver” tends to go ten extra miles at work. They volunteer to lead projects, plan events, come in without pay on their days off and are viewed as the go to person for everything nobody else has time to do. On the surface the “angry giver” desires to be seen as the ultimate team player, however, below the surface they harbor resentment, feel guilty, cast judgement and regret never having enough time to get their own work done. When asked how everything is going they will smile and say…”I’m a team player, and this sure is a great team to be on”. Inside they are oozing pissed off because of their inability to say NO.

THOUGHT: QUIT VOLUNTEERING TO DO EVERYONE ELSE’S WORK! Prioritize your time in a manner that allows you to put your priorities first.


At home, the “angry giver” does everything for everyone. They work “tirelessly” to ensure that everyone’s needs are met. After all, “my family would be lost without me”. To the “angry giver” meeting everyone’s needs is an expression of “love”. In reality it is extreme co-dependent behavior. THOUGHT: “Feed a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. When we do everything for our spouse or kids we are failing to teach them self reliance. In essence we are saying to them…YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE. Children, especially, must develop a sense of self sufficiency in order to grow their self esteem. I have a client who still cooks all her son’s meals, does his laundry and drives him to and from school. FYI…He is scheduled to start college next fall. Is this extreme need to be needed helping or hurting her son?


The “angry giver” routinely engages in activities they really don’t enjoy in order to please people who could really care less. “Going along to get along” is a common way of being for the “angry giver”. In social settings it is not uncommon for an “angry giver” to smile and proclaim what a wonderful time they are having when in reality they would prefer to be doing something they actually enjoy. The “angry giver” is the undisputed champion of implicit communication. THOUGHT: IF YOU DON’T DIG IT, DON’T DO IT! In other words, start doing things that you enjoy, opposed to doing what you believe others expect you to do.

WE TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US!  4 Tips From A Recovering “Angry Giver”.

1. Learn to say NO. We must establish our boundaries and put OUR needs first. When we put OUR needs and priorities first, something interesting happens….WE HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME & ENERGY TO SERVE OTHERS IN A TRULY JOYFUL MANNER.

2. Become SELF CENTERED. It’s time to prioritize our desires and needs. During our time as an “angry giver” we taught everyone how to treat us. We taught them that our time was not valuable, that their needs were more important than ours and that it was all right to be taken advantage of at work or in business. We must now introduce these people to our new way of being. Trust me, you will meet a great deal of resistance in the beginning. Being SELF CENTERED means we are grounded in our authentic self. It has nothing to do with being selfish.

3. Delegate. There is no award given to the “sucker” who does everything for everyone at the expense of their own career or personal relationships. (This includes the relationship we have with ourselves) For example, when we learn to delegate household chores or assignments at work we are holding others capable. Most people, when held capable, rise to the occasion.  Try it, you’ll like it!

4. STOP over extending yourself. We don’t need to simultaneously be the classroom parent, HOA board member, fundraising chair and the social director at our church. In most cases, it is our quest for significance that causes us to over extend. Remember, the more activities we are engaged in the less time we have for ourselves. Over time this will cause many of us to become “angry givers”. I always encourage my clients to volunteer for things that they are passionate about but to set a limit of no more than two at any one time. This helps us keep our lives in perspective.

To quote Tony Robbins, “the secret to living is giving”. Our goal is to become happy, self centered, givers!
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback!

Living The Christmas Spirit…John Page Burton

As I share with you this morning, I am sitting at my desk gazing out a large window that faces the national forest. I feel privileged to be able to watch the snow as it gently falls from the sky. I appreciate the intoxicating beauty of the trees that are now wearing a new coat of fresh powder and I’m reminded that it has been several years since I have experienced a white Christmas. I am extremely grateful for this moment.

I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the word Christmas and also share some thoughts on ways each of us can continue to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas throughout the year.


Compassion. All of us were born into a different set of circumstances. No one is better than anyone else. Whenever we are presented with an opportunity to lend a helping hand it is up to us to reach out. We must refrain from judging other people or their current situation. Remember…”but for the grace of God there go I.”

Humility. Remaining humble. God has blessed each of us in different ways. God graciously provides all of us with the appropriate lessons needed for our growth. In our success, be grateful and when we fail, be grateful. When we express gratitude we leave little room for a “better than” attitude.

Respect. It is up to us to treat everyone we meet with dignity and respect. We are all children of God. In an instant our lives can dramatically change for better or worse. How we treat those who are less fortunate than we are will define our true character more than anything we can ever say.

Inspiration. We should strive to be an inspiration to the people in our lives. It is just as easy to speak words of encouragement as it is to deliver cut downs or criticism. We must seek to find the good in every situation, choose our words carefully, refrain from anger and always come from a place of genuine kindness.  Our children, family, friends, co-workers, service providers and numerous others are watching our behavior and it is our responsibility to set an inspiring example.

Service. Every day we have an opportunity to be of service to someone who needs our help. We must be willing to offer our time, treasure and talent. There are numerous people and organizations in every community that need assistance and they will welcome us with open arms. Remember… givers gain!

Tolerance. We live in a extremely judgmental society where far too many people believe that their candidate, religion, race, sexual preference, education, employment or zip code is superior to that of someone else. Tolerance in today’s diverse world is critical for the advancement and enrichment of our society. We must be willing to judge people at face value rather than relying on misguided perceptions.

Miracles. Life is a miracle. Everywhere we look we see miracles. The sun consistently rises in the east, our child is born, a family member beats Cancer, we meet our soul mate or we are able to land the perfect job. We must learn to appreciate the miracles in our lives and never take anything for granted.  Christmas is a celebration of the greatest miracle of all. When we find ourselves in a challenging situation we must pray for and believe that a miracle awaits us.

Authenticity. Each of us is unique. We are called to bless the world by being authentic. Many of us invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into being someone other than ourselves. We say what we think people want to hear, buy material things to impress people who really don’t care and eventually many of us find ourselves emotionally bankrupt. We must re-connect with our authentic self and embrace our own unique journey.

Sacrifice. We live in a world that features an abundance of material options. For many, the words instant gratification, have replaced the words hard work and sacrifice. Everywhere we look it seems that people are going deeper and deeper in debt to quench their insatiable need to “look good”. Many of us have lost the appreciation and sense of self that is a bi-product of sacrifice and hard work. We must share the concept of delayed gratification with the next generation or It may be lost forever.

In closing I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a very insightful NEW YEAR!!!