I read somewhere recently of a great Chinese saying: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Over many centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested that: Happiness is found in helping others.
After some recent conversations with “over givers” I decided that we can probably categorise people into one of 3 groups:
The givers, the takers, and those in-between.
Many people fall into the third group, and let’s just say there’s nothing wrong about being a giver and a taker, so long as each action is given priority. However, without boundaries, the act of giving can become counterproductive and unhealthy!
You may know that feeling where you give so much of yourself — your time, support, energy, and maybe even your money — and the other person or people just take and take… and then need more? Remember that an empty cup is a stepping stone to burn out. If you don’t do things to keep your cup full, you have nothing left to give or share with others.
Let’s look at some warning signs when over-giving is becoming a problem:
- You continue to give in to situations that leave you feeling emotionally empty.
- You feel alone in your relationships and are barely able to take care of your own emotional needs.
- You are afraid that if you stop excessive giving, your friends, colleagues or partner may be unhappy, or drop their interest in you or even leave.
- It feels important for you to be the giver in almost every relationship.
- You put the needs of others before your own.
- You apologise excessively if you are not able to “give” the way you would like to.
- You find that you give because you want to feel loved, liked, or admired.
- You feel guilty when someone gives something to you.
- You avoid or are uncomfortable at the thought of asking for something.
- Always giving advice
- Saying yes when you have no ability to deliver what you just promised
If you identify with too many of these, it’s time to start filling your own cup first and figuring out what you feel you lack so that you have to give so much to feel whole. What are you searching for? Why are you giving so much?
Here are some tips to that will help you give not until it hurts, but until it feels great:
- Start the day with five minutes of total self-praise – recall compliments, shower gratitude on yourself and think about all the great things you are and do.
- Remember that you have the right to say no, with or without explanation. Keep your words short, polite and firm. (“I’m quite busy with this project. Hope you can find someone else.”)
- Do yourself a favour and schedule some “me” time every single day. If it helps, think of rest and relaxation as the necessary body fuel to be your best self.
- Turn off the phone and have some designated quiet space. Stop being everyone else’s therapist – you’re spread too thin already!
- Starting your day with yoga and a little meditation or mindfulness
- Take 15 or 20 minutes to go for a walk in the afternoon to clear your head and get your blood pumping.