Back in my caretaking days, my “Oh-I’m-here-to-save-the-world-so-let-me-help-you-by-taking-care-of-you-and-relieve-you-of-your-burden-and-misery’ (aka, carry your cross for you), I would have immediately jumped at every and any opportunity to help and to ‘serve.’
I would have made myself completely and readily available and made ‘helping’ others my priority. Anyone. Everyone.
I would have given everything I’ve got — and I mean, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g — without being concerned or ensuring that there’s a balanced and fair exchange of energies. Such a concept, after all, was unheard of to me for a very long time.
Giving — myself and everything that I have or I know — was my concept of a purpose-led driven life. Giving ceaselessly was my definition of ‘helping,’ ‘serving’ and ‘being of service to others.’ Each time I had the opportunity to give, I was being called to ‘help’ and ‘carry out my mission.’
I used to subscribe to such a belief — that an individual who is self-less, who forgets about one’s self and thinks only of others is admirable. Noble. Someone to emulate. Their way of living is something to aim for. After all, aren’t we supposed to ‘give until it hurts?’
Ooooh….Now that hurts.
Just writing those words now so hurts me to the pit of my stomach. A clear indication from my body of a false teaching. Something that no longer rings true to me.
The focus of my journey in recent years has been mastering the art and skill of discerning — to whom to give, how much, to what extent.
When am I giving enough? When is it too much? When do I pull back? When do I not give at all?
Wait a minute.
Not give at all?
Isn’t that being selfish when I do not give at all, especially to those who need my help? Am I not being selfish when I keep to myself what may benefit others who are in need? How can I be carrying out my mission when I do not give? Besides, isn’t it ‘in giving that we receive?’
It took a long time — and I mean, a very long time — for me to know the difference when to give and when not to.
It took a while for me to even know that there is a difference — and the difference lies in determining whether the party in need can receive or simply take.
There are those who do not know how to receive….
When what I give goes unappreciated, ignored or rejected, it isn’t serving me well to continue to give to that particular individual or organization.
And why do people reject or not appreciate what’s given to them?
Some people have very low self-esteem that they do not believe they are deserving of the gifts and blessings that are coming their way. These people do not know how to receive.
They think so little of themselves. They see themselves as not worthy — of anything. They see themselves as worthless in all aspects and areas of their life. They “play small.” And they play it very well. They are the epitome of false humility.
Their distorted view of their self-worth has led them to reject — unconsciously, unintentionally, unknowingly — whatever comes their way, especially blessings.
They have also come to believe — brainwashed — that they need to work hard for something before they can receive any blessing. They are not used to receiving. They have been programmed otherwise. They do not receive. They do not know how. Instead, they reject.
These are one breed of people. I can probably have more compassion for them and give them some leeway. I can probably cut them some slack, but I would still practice caution and some restraint when I give to them. Again, all in the spirit of fair and balanced exchange of energies.
And there are the “takers”…
There’s another breed who don’t know any better than to take and take and take. To suck from others. To suck until others run dry. Much as that sounds a bit harsh, they’re out there. The needy. The clinger. The suckers. The energy vampires.
Again, these “takers” may be doing it unconsciously, unknowingly, unintentionally. They may or may not be aware of all the taking that they’re doing.
But aren’t they the ones “in the dark” and who need “light” the most?
But their lack of awareness doesn’t earn them the privilege to continue taking. Being in the dark doesn’t give them the right to do so. It is, to me, simply inexcusable and unjustifiable. And non-permissible.
And with me being the one who has the awareness of such energies and how these dynamics play out, I have the responsibility to set the limits.
To determine when and how much to give and to whom — and when not to. More so, not to — especially when I know fully well that the other party’s sole intention is only to take.
All these, again, in the spirit of fair and balanced exchange of energies.
Am I not being “picky” or “discriminatory” when I set limits — aka, ‘unspiritual’ for being ‘selfish’ and ‘uncaring’? (Ok…there goes the trap of ‘spiritual bypassing’ again…)
On the contrary, I am still being of service (and not less ‘spiritual’) even as I set healthy and appropriate boundaries and limitations. It is, in fact, a necessary practice.
It takes a wise and discerning soul to decide when, what, how much and to whom to give. (The gift of heightened sensitivity to subtle energies comes very handy here.) Setting appropriate boundaries when it comes to giving is an area that I’m still gaining mastery on. It’s a major focus of the current phase of my journey.
To not give is not being selfish. It is not withholding the love or the gift.
It is, in fact, giving love — to the self which is where it all must begin and from where true giving emanates.
Something on which many who are called to ‘be of service’ miss out. And self-love includes enforcing boundaries and managing how to run one’s energies.
I’m loving myself when I give only to those who know how to receive what I’m giving —those who know how to acknowledge and appreciate the blessings coming from and through me. I’m valuing myself when I do that. I’m teaching them how to value me.
I’m giving love — to myself and others — when I do not give to those who do not know how to receive or know only how to take by not enabling their selfish and self-serving ways.
I’m sending the message that I love and value myself enough to share myself only to those who uphold a similar principle of valuing one’s self and others.
There will be “users,” “abusers” and “bullies” for as long as there are “victims” who allow themselves to be used, abused and bullied; There will be “takers” for as long as there are “givers” who allow themselves to be taken from.
May we all give to those who know how to receive, and may we be appreciative recipients — and not self-serving takers — of what others are giving to us.
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