Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 16: Giving

I actually quite love to give - give time, gifts, talents, lessons, ideas, whatever I can give to make others smile.  There are so many quotes out there by wise philosophers that preach the importance of giving, and remind us that what we get out will come back to us.  Heck, there are songs written about this very topic!  So many people in the world "get" the message.  But do we follow it?

I've always been a giving person (unless you ask my family.)  Over the last seven or so years, I've become even more conscious of what I put out into the world.  I try to be a kind, giving person, that people can like.  I made the choice to give of myself selflessly.  I've spent countless hours helping colleagues and peers, friends and family, with everything from house chores to parties to technology to organizing to shopping - you name it.  And I've done so, most of the time, without complaint.  Would that be considered "good enough" giving to get good back?

No.  Why?  Because I gave everything I had, without boundaries.  While that *is* giving, it also trained people to take advantage of me.  People know that I never say no (unless you're my immediate family.)  People know I'll help them with just about anything at the drop of a hat.  This type of giving, that I lived for so long, taught people to take advantage of me.

It absolutely put good into the world, lots of it.  I made lots of people happy with my choice to limitlessly give.  But I wasn't feeling any of the "good" anymore.  I knew people were taking advantage of me, but I didn't want them to not like me, so I couldn't say no.  So things started feeling really bad inside.  Despite that, I continued to give.

Enter my incredible therapist.

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
It is through my work with her that I have learned how to truly give.  Yes, I was giving before.  Yes, I was giving without expectation of return.  But I was doing so in a way that taught people there was no reason to give back to me at all.  I taught people that they could happily take from me what they wanted, and leave me with little.  So my therapist taught me to set boundaries.  She taught me how saying no doesn't have to be the painful experience I once thought it was.  She helped me see that when I give of myself without giving up on myself, then, and only then, does giving feel light and freeing.

While I continue to give of myself to others, I now save some of me to give to me.  Not easy.  Worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

So? What do you think?