Are you one of those people who gives so much of your energy to others that you have none left for yourself? Are you the shoulder that everyone cries on? The person all your friends come to for advice and help? Do you take care of everyone else’s needs before your own? If so, you’re headed for disaster. You’re actually hurting yourself and all of the people you’re taking care of. I’ll explain.
Imagine you had a car and it was your job to give people rides in your car, to help them get where they needed to go. You invite someone into your car, take them where they need to go, drop them off, and pick up the next person. You do this happily. It gives you a sense of purpose, contribution, connection, and love. And you do it without expecting anything in return, not even gas money. Even when people offer you money for gas, you turn them down, because to accept the money would cheapen your service, it would devalue the gift.
Then what happens? You run out of gas. And since you collected no money from your rides, you can’t pay the gas station attendant for more gas. People still need you. You’ve set up a system, they’ve come to rely on you, and you can’t let them down. So you keep inviting people into your car, but now instead of driving them where they need to go, you’re pushing the car instead. They’re uncomfortable because now they can see you suffering on their behalf, and you’re uncomfortable because you actually are suffering. How long can you keep that up before you keel over from exhaustion?
You know who you are. You’re emotionally drained. Physically exhausted. Spiritually tapped out. You’ve got nothing left to give. And why? Because you didn’t fill up your gas tank so you could keep giving people rides. There’s nothing wrong with giving rides to others if that’s what you want to do, in fact it’s an admirable way to go through life. But when you disallow others the opportunity to give back to you, the system eventually fails and everyone suffers.
Somewhere along the way you were taught that to give is divine and to receive is selfish. This is false though. To give is indeed divine, but to allow others to give back to you is divine also. If you don’t receive it means you’re blocking someone else from giving. Yeah, that’s not cool is it? When you give but do not allow yourself to receive you are molding yourself into the role of martyr. What’s going to happen when you’ve got nothing left to give and you’ve conditioned people never to help you? They’re going to move on and get help elsewhere. Then how will you achieve that sense of purpose you attached to giving without receiving? If you’re tapped out, the people who rely on you have to seek help elsewhere.
The solution is to allow people to give you fair value in return for the value you’ve given them. This could be in the form of money, a service, emotional support, good will, or a material possession. It doesn’t matter. You must be energetically open to receiving, otherwise you’ll eventually run out of juice and be so depleted you can’t give anymore.
I frequently see this syndrome among mothers who give all their time, attention, love and support to their families and get nothing in return. I also see it in people who have limiting beliefs like, “I should help people with my gift and not expect anything in return,” or “Money is evil, I’ll just learn to live on less and less.” This helps no one.
So how do you restore yourself? How do you fill the tank? Here are some ideas:
- Accept monetary compensation for the value you provide (I know, what a concept!)
- Take a day off to restore your energy by doing what YOU love
- Mark off time in your day where you work on your own life goals instead of helping everyone with theirs
- Learn to say “no” when you are depleted and just let others know you’ll be back when you’re restored
- Graciously and sincerely accept praise when it is bestowed upon you
- Ask for love when you need it
- Learn to stop feeling guilty for taking care of your own needs
- Learn to accept assistance from others when you actually need help
Being a martyr is a dead end path. Instead, give and receive equally to keep the gears turning and the spice flowing. The more you have, the more you can give. Don’t restrict the energetic flow of abundance or you’ll end up taking yourself out of the game. And then who is going to help everyone you’ve been helping?
I could sum up this entire concept with the oxygen mask on the airline example. Put your own mask on first and then assist the others around you. If you go down who will help all those people who need assistance to get their masks on?