Giving To The Last Drop
I’m a giver and a caretaker. I am also an empath, someone who is very good at sensing others energy and emotional state. So I am very responsive to people’s moods around me, which is wonderful and often draining. As a woman, a person in a healing profession, and someone from a family that emphasized giving to others I have been conditioned to give until I can’t give any more. In fact, when I feel I can’t give any more I should give any way. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely enjoy being a healer and aspects of taking care of others; the part I don’t like is the expectation that I give all that I have. That expectation is both from the world around me but most importantly part of me believes that as well.
The other week I was feeling particularly depleted from work and needed to take a Friday off. It was a really great decision, I felt more rested and I was able to get some things done that I had been putting off. As soon as I felt the extra pep in my step I instantly started to think of ways I could reach out to others and care for them. It really surprised me how instant it was. I laughed at myself because it’s like I had been starving and I took the first bite of food and all of a sudden I felt that I needed to share it with others, how ridiculous is that? Really what I needed was to keep that nourishment for myself. That moment really drove home the fact that I give it all away and don’t remember to keep what I need for myself. So, I did not reach out, I kept that energy for myself and my family. Do you know what I realized? One meal was not enough, I’ve been running on empty for a long time and it’s going to take a while to become fully fed and ready to expend my energy elsewhere. Are you giving too much too often? Below are four signs that you may be chronically giving too much.
You are often exhausted at the end of the day.
There can be many reasons you come home feeling exhausted, but I’ve found there is a certain quality to my exhaustion when it is because I gave too much. It’s an exhaustion that reaches my soul. I joke that I feel like a toddler that needs a nap and wants to throw a tantrum. My partner will tell you that sometimes I do throw that tantrum, but enough about me :). What is your version of soul exhaustion? It is important to be able to identify what your version is because often you won’t just need physical rest to recuperate from this type of tired, you will likely need something for your mind, body, and soul.
You feel “put upon” by others if they start sharing their struggles with you.
This is an especially important cue if generally you enjoy being a support for your friends. All of us are built differently and some of you may not be as interested in playing this role in general, that’s ok. However, if you are the type of person who prides themselves on being the go to person for support and you are starting to feel resentful, it may be time to start setting some boundaries with others and with yourself.
You start experiencing feelings of dread when your phone rings or when approached by friends.
This is similar to number 2 but I think it’s worth emphasizing; texting, social media and email can be just as draining as in person interactions. During a particularly stressful time I kept forgetting my phone at home, I did this several fridays in a row. I started to jokingly call it “phone free friday”. I chalked this up to being tired and busy, my therapist did not let me get away with this explanation. I realized that I was leaving my phone at home because I was feeling overwhelmed and wasn’t setting boundaries with friends, so instead, I was “forgetting” my phone at home. Be intentional with yourself and with others. When you are feeling strain perhaps take a social media break or place your phone on do not disturb during the evenings.
Self-care feels like a foreign land that only yogis on instagram get to visit.
That massage you get for your birthday once a year and that yoga class you go to once a month is not going to cut it. There is no 100% foolproof way to take care of yourself but I do know that taking care of yourself cannot be at the bottom of your to do list. It cannot wait until you “have more time”. The reality is that you will likely always be busy and if you are a person who almost always puts others before yourself, you are going to be hard pressed to find time. Self-care does not have to be elaborate or take up all of your time. Self-care might be treating yourself to a body scrub you really like but usually don’t buy because it feels like a splurge. Or it might mean getting up 15 minutes earlier to prepare a hot breakfast for yourself. Whatever your self-care baby steps are they need to be something that makes you feel nourished.
It really is a beautiful thing to be a giving person, I truly appreciate all the empaths and healers in my life. My wish is that all of you take the time you need to nourish your soul through play, movement, connection, and stillness. I think I will always be on a journey of finding better balance and care for myself. I’m not perfect at it, but I don’t have to be, and neither do you. Be as gentle with yourself as you would be with your favorite person in this world.
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