To my fellow “Over-Givers,”
I feel your pain. I know what it’s like to give and give and give and get little or nothing back in return.
To give and not allow yourself to receive compliments, gifts, even money.
To “should” yourself into doing endless favours for others.
It’s not a great place to be and yet, when we try to say “no,” we feel guilt. And shame.
So how do you fix this? How do you give AND receive? Where should the boundary lie between giving and giving-so-much-you-become-the-world’s-doormat?
Should we be selfless? Or selfish?
The surprising answer: Both
Selflessness can be broken down into two words: “self” and “less.” You can interpret “less self” in two ways: 1) self-denial 2) self-transcendence.
Spiritual seekers looking to lead a more loving, conscious life, often take the self- denial route and give because they are expected to or because they feel they “should” always say yes when someone asks something from them. This is serving out of obligation, responsibility and guilt. So you may think that you’re serving your clients or your family by endlessly sacrificing your time and energy for them, but in fact, you are only denying the self.
We deny ourselves when we ignore our heart’s needs and desires in favour of doing or being what others expect from us. When we ignore what the heart wants and deny who we are, we are not truly serving anyone.
In order to transcend the self, you must accept and love the self for everything that it is and desires to experience. A leaf would never be able to have the consciousness necessary to see the whole tree if it didn’t first recognize and accept its identity as a leaf. You cannot experience true selflessness if you do not first experience selfishness. True service is done from the heart and is as rewarding to the giver as it is to the receiver.
To truly serve another, you must first acknowledge who you are as an individual and what you heart truly wants for you. This process takes deep introspection and listening to your soul. When you begin to see yourself as you truly are and act in accordance with your heart’s desires (not the ego’s desires) you will be able to serve selflessly.
How To Serve From The Heart
So when is it appropriate to say “no” to a friend, family member or co-worker? Short answer: When you’re denying the heart.
Giving from the heart feels effortless, natural and positive.
Giving from the ego it feels the opposite. Unnatural, forced and it can be coupled with feelings like guilt, resentment, anger, pride, or unhappiness.
Before taking an action, ask yourself, “Am I being selfish? Am I giving because it’s what my heart truly wants?” If the answer is yes, then move forward with the action.
If you still find yourself confused as to what decision to make, it’s an indication that you have some old belief patterns (i.e. “I need to please others”), stuck emotions (past heartache), or blocks (i.e. unworthiness) that are keeping you from attaining clarity.
As children, we know what feels good and what feels bad. Somewhere along the way, that gets muddled with expectations, responsibilities and experiences. Our job from there is to do the inner work necessary to clear the negativity, connect with the heart and make decisions every day on what our soul wants for us.
Only when we act in alignment with our heart’s desires can we recognize and accept ourselves as the “leaf.” When you repeatedly honour your heart’s desires, you’ll be able to serve others from a place of happiness, connection and unity. When you feel true unity, you transcend the self. You’ll know that you are not just the leaf, but the entire tree. When the leaf is healthy, happy and fulfilled, the tree prospers.
Do you ever feel like you’re looking everywhere for the answers?
Do you feel anxious and uncertain when you think about what you’re meant to do in this world?
Do you wish someone could teach you HOW to discover your soul purpose for yourself?
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