When you are little your parents, if they are the nurturing and loving sort, try to warn you from all the ills in life that will bring you pain. They tell you, “No, sweetie don’t touch that hot pot you’ll get burned.” “Don’t climb so high you’ll fall down.” And sometimes you listen and stayed safe and sometimes curiosity killed the cat or at least curiosity burned your hand, as you learned the hard way that it hurts to touch a hot stove.
People that give and give of themselves, never setting boundaries with others that gladly take from them, are like that small child, that heard the warning yet still took the chance of being burned.
Sure, everyone knows that you can’t pour from an empty cup. But no one explains how to break the cycle of feeling as if we have to please people in order to feel love. Or how gratifying it can be to give to yourself what you so freely give to others.
From the time we are young, we see examples of our mothers giving of themselves to take care of the children, the home and their mate/husband. We see single moms that make things happen when there is seemingly no way they should. We see adults tired, working day in and day out so their families can survive. So, we absorb that mentality that you give to those you care about even if they never have anything to give you, you just keep giving. Even to the point of defeat and exhaustion. Working and giving of themselves sometimes straight into early graves.
It’s a seriously flawed concept. One that often leads to couples staying together to raise children only to divorce later once the kids are “old enough,” often feeling they lived a life unfulfilled. And single moms feeling as if they wasted all their good years on their grown, ungrateful kids. While sometimes that is the case, oftentimes these feelings are a result of extreme burn out. Of having your soul depleted to the point you have nothing to give, not a thought, worry or care, not even for yourself.
We have to change the mindset that is is better to give than to receive. Let’s say, it’s better to give just as much as you get, even if those things you get are a result of your own doing. We have to learn to refill our cups. We are solely responsible for maintaining our inner peace and happiness. Can other people lend to those feelings? Absolutely! But they are not the driving force behind those feelings. That is an inside job.
People will tell you “No” is a complete sentence. Yet, you will still worry your nerves over saying it, feeling as if you need to expound on the reason. You do not have to feel guilty for using your excess on yourself. Whether that excess is time, money or energy. You are not obligated to give so much of yourself to anyone that it leaves you with nothing left for you.
You have to learn to schedule and set aside time for yourself. Give yourself gifts, write yourself notes affirming how amazing you are. Buy yourself those flowers, or that pretty dress. Dress up just because you like the way it makes you feel. When you start treating yourself right and ensuring your cup stays full. People will reap the benefit of your overflow. You’ll be so full, you can’t help but to give that overflow to others and it won’t even be as noticeable.
Stop allowing yourself to be burned by the expectations of others. Stop equating your acts of service as fair exchange for love, affection and appreciation. Those things should be given freely and not contingent on what someone can get from or out of you.
You are too amazing to keep allowing your soul to be exhausted. Guard yourself and set those boundaries. People that truly love you will never want to see you get burned.