Why can some people not overcome greed?

Avarice is not cool - this is how you become more generous!

Capitalist cultures in particular encourage stingy behavior, while in many religions it is considered immoral. Ragnhild Struss reveals where stinginess comes from and how you can make it easier to share with others. Small spoiler: we can live happier with more generosity.

Roommates who insist on the heating switched off even in the depths of winter. Friends who remind you that you owe them 31 cents for the apple you brought with you. Colleagues who never share their own snacks. Partners who prefer a dinner from the discounter to a restaurant on their joint anniversary. What some people even perceive as sensible, economical and sensible behavior, for others clearly falls into the category of "hedgehog in your pocket". As one of the seven deadly sins In classical Christian theology, greed was condemned in the strongest terms, while it is now almost "in", especially in capitalist countries. How are avarice and greed related, why are some people more stingy than others, and what can you do to develop more generosity?

What does avarice actually mean?

According to the definition, avarice stands for an “exaggerated thrift” with an unwillingness to share goods. In Christianity, the "root sin" of avarice is directly related to greed (lat. "Avaritia") - they represent two sides of the same coin, as it were: the avaricious accumulates more and more resources without giving up any of them. It can be material goods such as money, possessions or food act, but also about the immateriallike time, love and attentionthat are not shared with other people.

On closer inspection you can see different kinds of avarice distinguish. Some people are just like that generally extremely economical and reject all waste, whether to yourself or to others. They can be wealthy (also as a result of their avarice), but live in poor conditions and hardly spend any money on other people either. Other types where the Greed component More emphasis is placed on wanting to have everything that is good for yourself: you appear stingy on the outside while you pamper yourself with a luxurious lifestyle. And finally you meet martyrial peoplewho deny themselves all comfort and instead give all their resources to others. This group is seldom seen as stingy in the classical sense because of their generosity towards their fellow human beings. However, constantly “neglecting yourself” can have motives similar to the more obvious avarice forms.

Why do some people develop stingy traits?

As depth psychological justification for the emergence of a stingy character Sigmund Freud considered the so-called anal fixation. According to this theory, at a certain age the child experiences the feeling of control, autonomy and power if he does not share but keeps everything to himself. Some people “get stuck” in this phase because they have felt that too much is being taken from them. Even as adults, they tend not to want to give up control - which can ultimately be expressed in stingy behavior. Incidentally, extremely stingy people also often suffer from Obsessive-compulsive disorderwhich are also associated with anal fixation.

Another explanation for the development of avarice is provided by the behaviorism: The greedy behavior is simply that Result of learning processes in childhood and adolescence. It depends very much on how your parents deal with money and other resources and what values ​​they convey to their child in this regard. If a young person is praised every time he dutifully throws another coin into the piggy bank instead of spending his pocket money, this acts as a positive reinforcement for the learning process. Likewise, criticism as a result of “wasteful” behavior can lead the child to avoid such a thing in the future in order to avoid the negative feeling of reprimand. The “avarice affinity” of a family is often reflected in Beliefs that will be passed on to future generations: "Whoever does not honor the penny is not worth the taler." or "The clever one takes care of it." support a long-term mindset in which all spending has to be well thought out.

In any case, stingy people think they are in an uncertain world in some way and are characterized by doubts about their own self-efficacy. So you're insecure and out Fear of the future or of being exploited constant feeling of having to take precautions and hoard. They want to feel in control and security through a lack of generosity - property serves them as a kind of protective shield.

Negative effects of stingy behavior

Straight up Relationships avarice can have clearly negative effects. If someone does not share or give nothing, the other person does not feel valued. Worse still: This behavior makes others feel as if they cannot be trusted - because the stingy person shields everything from himself and does not allow any “insights” into himself and his material or immaterial world. At the same time, people who do not give often cannot take well either: if you give them something, they often do not thank them properly because they basically feel guilty - knowing that they will not "return the favor". If there is no balance between giving and taking, it strains every relationship, because human connections flourish when balanced. Avarice also has a disadvantageous effect at work: Someone who cannot give is firstly not really liked and secondly is reluctant to be promoted.

Three tips for more generosity

Stingy people often do not even notice that they fall into this category. You may just think of yourself as very frugal and may even be proud of this trait. One indication that one should develop more generosity is to listen to oneself: Do I really feel happy and fulfilled with my thrifty manner? If the answer is no, the following will help Tips in the process of overcoming your avarice tendencies.

1. Questioning one's own beliefs

Think about where it comes from that you live a certain stinginess. What do you expect from it? What would happen if you were more generous? What is it that scares you? Security may be an important asset in your life and you see stinginess as an adequate way to achieve it. "Better safe than sorry." Or "The world is full of unforeseen dangers." Could then be beliefs in the back of your mind that encourage you to be conservative with money. Or maybe you have experienced firsthand what lack means through hardships in life and you never want to let it get that far again. “I am prepared for anything.” Or “I will not let others take away what I am entitled to” are then perhaps guiding principles that induce you to hoard all your resources. Whatever beliefs your actions are based on: Question whether they really still serve you today - or whether they are outdated, previously adopted settingsthat actually no longer apply to your current self and your current situation. You can also actively acquire new, more positive beliefs by reformulating your previous ones: for example “The world is full of opportunities and there is a solution for everything” or “If everyone shares, there is enough for everyone”.

2. Filling the inner void

Now it gets even more personal: What deeply unfulfilled need would you like to satisfy with stingy behavior? And: is this path really successful? A person who suffered as a child from distant parents who showed no respect for their own things and their privacy might use greed as an adult to compensate for this: by isolating themselves from others and their thoughts, material resources, time and even today Not sharing love with others, he can finally define his own limits. And if you don't need anything, you don't have to ask about anything, creating more or less independence. In such a case it is worth considering how this person could establish autonomy in other, healthier ways in his life - for example through martial arts, which strengthens his self-confidence, or through fixed times in the week that he spends alone. Another example of greed: was a child always showered with gifts while their parents barely had time for them? Then it probably learned that material wealth equals love. By later hoarding all kinds of possessions and still wanting more, such a person is actually expressing his longing for affection - which he seeks in an unfavorable way. Here it can help build and strengthen real relationshipswho are much more likely to give the feeling of social affirmation and security.

In the case of greed, self-esteem is usually too weak: possession should act as compensation in order to create protection and strength. The right strategy would be to work on more self-love. Avarice is always associated with some form of fear, and therefore no hoarding, accumulating or saving will ever make the feeling of lack go away. Instead, one has to work on inner abundance. In many cases, psychotherapy can also support this process.

3. Actively train generous behavior

Think about the areas in which you would like to be more generous from now on and with which concrete measures you can achieve this. For example, do your colleagues at work take turns bringing a bag of candy for the whole team while you have abstained so far? Then get something for everyone this week. Or spend a round with your friends on the next pub crawl - just like that. You find out that a good friend is sick in bed? Then give it to her a piece of your timeby offering to do the shopping for them. Has your partner already told you that he wants "more love" from you? Perhaps you will be able to express your feelings more openly and give him a word of solidarity or a tender gesture more often. Or possibly you could be a little more generous to yourself and, for example, replace an old, worn jacket with a new one of good quality - despite its high price. In all of these situations, you may initially encounter internal resistance. Because your previous pattern was to conserve resources - doing the opposite of that seems counter-intuitive at first. Nevertheless, give yourself a jerk and note how you feel afterwards. Is it nice to make others (or yourself) happy? Does it make you feel more connected to them? And maybe nothing bad happens that you were afraid of so far - for example, that you no longer have time for yourself or that you are noticeably lacking money at the end of the month? Repeat generous behaviors until they become more natural to you.


The opposite of avarice is not waste. Nobody says to adopt irresponsible use of resources in order to overcome your stingy traits. However, there is one between these two extremes healthy middle ground where you let others share what you have to offer - without throwing any measure, reason or security overboard. The benefit: more closeness, connectedness and joy in social relationships and a feeling of fullness instead of lack.

The most important basis for professional success and personal satisfaction is a lifestyle that is in harmony with your personality. Knowing them is the first step. With our free Trial test we offer you the opportunity to walk it and get a first glimpse of yourself.