It’s so easy to give isn’t it? It’s so easy to constantly think of what others need.
Give. Give. Give.
That’s what our society conditions us to do. Otherwise, we would be selfish.
That’s probably one of the worst things that a person can be accused of.
Of course we want to be able to think about others. Of course it’s good to be altruistic. We can all agree that geneosity is a great and laudable thing.
But is too much giving getting in the way of taking care of ourselves?
I know I am guilty of this from time to time.
Growing up, my parents used to tell me how selfish I behaved.
It’s one of my deepest shames.
In trying to cover it up, I became someone who was all about rescuing others.
“Look at me! I’m so nice! Always helping others, always putting others first!”
And I ate.
And I ate.
And I ate.
I ate to cover up my own feelings.
I ate to comfort myself when no one was there to support or listen to me in return.
Instead of taking care of my own needs, I neglected them.
It didn’t help that the pounds started piling on, which led me to wanting to please others even more.
Yup, downward spiral! Woohoo! (Not!)
Of course, I never really admitted to my own need for support. I always portrayed myself as a confident, strong young person who didn’t need anyone’s help. What would people think of me if they found out the truth?
I was supposed to be the helper, not take up someone else’s attention. Someone else’s love.
That wasn’t for me.
Wanting that for myself was proof of my selfishness. Wanting love for myself was precisely the reason why I didn’t feel I deserved it.
So I fought against that.
I kept giving, giving, giving. Eating, eating, eating.
I’ve worked hard to get past this cycle. I no longer feel the need to rescue others out of wanting to prove my generosity and negate my o-called self-centeredness.
The drive to support others in their empowerment comes from deep within; a deep-seated urge to share the abundant joy that life has to offer.
It’s so strong that I cannot help but want to do this. As I mentioned in a previous post, I believe this is all there is.
But I’ve been going through some stuff lately that has brought to my attention that there is a part of me that, despite being 100% on board with giving, doesn’t feel like it deserves to be on the receiving end.
I’ve been seeing this manifest as a lack of trust on my part. For example, it can be hard for me to believe that someone wants to do something nice for me, just because.
My mind gets suspicious.
What’s their true motivation? What do they want from me? They couldn’t possibly just genuinely care for me.
Despite all evidence to the contrary (and my friends do laugh at me when I tell them about my struggle with this… Ha, ha, hilarious!), there’s still that part of me that believes I’m selfish. That I don’t deserve to be cared for or loved.
This is doubly interesting because I know I am capable of doing things just because I sincerely want people to be happy.
So why is it so hard for me to believe that others might feel that same compassion and love in relation to me?
I’m not sure of the answer to that question. I know it has to do with trust.
The real point, however, isn’t finding the answer. Too much analysis can lead to paralysis and confusion.
So let’s get practical: what steps can I take?
Well, first, I can find ways in which to learn to open up and receive.
And that starts with receiving from myself. Showing myself I am worth loving through my own compassionate actions towards my body, my mind, my feelings, and my spirit.
I’m not going to allow a fear of being selfish to rob me of being able to love myself up and take good care of myself.
After all, if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot be of much use to others. Not for long anyway.
If I don’t take care of myself, it won’t take too much for me to get irritable, exhausted, and angry due to all the stress I would feel being pulled in a million different directions, trying to please everyone.
So it’s not one or the other:
It’s not selfishness versus generosity.
It’s not me versus them, my needs versus their needs.
We are part of a synergistic system. When we take care of ourselves, we take care of others. When we take care of others, we also take care of ourselves.
It all comes back in a continuous feedback loop.
And it must be in balance for everyone to get all the love they deserve.
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
It occurs to me that this rule also works the other way around.
There’s many instances in which our compassion towards others leads us to treat them better than we treat ourselves.
My commitment: to be more mindful of where I put my energy, and not be scared of setting boundaries or ask for support when I need it.
In what ways could you be more generous to yourself?