The world is full of possibilities to be “of service”. Just open up the newspaper or your newsfeed and one story after another will make you want to open up your heart…….and your checkbook. During this very difficult period that we, as a collective society are traversing, I have spent a lot of time wandering around the creases and folds of my being, searching for answers. More succinctly, searching for “my” answers. In attempting to answer those questions, I have come up with the following conclusion…….it’s different for everyone. So, with that in mind, I am listing a few thoughts that might help someone else find out best where there answer might reside.
Flattery could get you nowhere. Being approached for a “service” opportunity does not necessarily mean it will be appreciated. Check in with your “heart of hearts” and see if the opportunity speaks directly to you. If it does, go for it! Don’t let anything get in your way of helping, assisting and generally getting your hands dirty. It’s good for the soul, your own sense of self respect and someone else’s mission. However, if the opportunity doesn’t resonate deep within you, gently decline and walk away. I can assure you there will be more requests where that came from.
Hitching a ride on the “Guilt Train.” If you have a sneaky feeling that someone is attempting to guilt you into doing something for the “greater good”, they probably are. Don’t make any sudden movements. Breathe deep, realize what is happening and find an opportunity to give that doesn’t involve making yourself feel bad to make someone else feel better.
Servitude is NOT being of Service. Getting a little distance from a situation, even if it’s been a mess and blown up in your face as well as all over your clothes, will give you the insight that you just may have been used. And it’s ok. Any loving, giving, kind hearted person has been there. Some situations hurt more than others – usually because we were unable or unwilling to see the wolf in sheeps clothing. The take away from these types of situations is this – at least you did something. Yes, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted but it turned out the way YOU needed it to. We are given the lesson until we learn the lesson.
If you have to make yourself smaller in order to give – it ain’t giving. The feeling that the situation or person that you’re giving to is just so much more important than you are is mostly a smoke screen. There ARE important venues and values that are very worthy of your efforts – but they shouldn’t be making you to feel small. Healthy giving opportunities raise everyone up, not just the recipient. If you are feeling like a “minion”, yeah you guessed it, you’re probably being perceived as one.
“Give, but give until it hurts.” Mother Teresa. Giving, even in the most purely authentic ways, can damage the giver. It is wise for each one of us to check-in with ourselves, getting very quiet, and realize what are limits are. You may need to take a break from being a “giver.” And it’s ok. That break may last years. And it’s ok. I can assure you, there will be many opportunities to give of yourself. Time and time again. The act of giving is best served in Joy – not in obligation.
Include yourself. There may be long stretches of time that giving to others is just not an option. We all have a right and a responsibility to handle our own lives. Sometimes, that means a period of self reflection is warranted before any additional “outflow” can occur. If the well dries up, the possibility of water doesn’t exist. Fill-up your own soul, whatever non-malicious way that means for you, before you go trying to fill someone else’s heart. Giving while in a state of resentment, lack or anything less than whole heartedness isn’t just unwise, it’s a crime against oneself. Perhaps you may want to look at it this way; if you take the time to truly give to yourself, you are not the only recipient of your graciousness. Everyone you touch, talk with, work for or love will be the beneficiary of that grace. You will not be able to contain it. It will seep out of your pores and encompass those that you hold most dear.
And then, you will be ready to give again.