Save a part of yourself for yourself. Always. You don’t have to give every single ounce of yourself away.
I once lived under the delusion that I owed everybody everything. I gave 1000% of my effort, energy, and attention to everything because I thought I was only as good as what I gave to the world outside of me. I did this to the complete and absolute abandonment of the world within me. I kept nothing. I left it all on field with everything I did. My purpose was in everybody else’s purpose.
The result was a very surface-level existence. No reservoir. No sense of self. Nothing going on that everybody didn’t already know about. I was only what the person or situation in front of me required. This would have been a recipe for resentment, restlessness, and depletion if I was paying any attention to what my body was feeling. The life I was leading was taking a devastating toll on my body, but I sure wasn’t aware.
Until I was…
I’m not even sure what the final straw was. I don’t remember what happened to finally wake me up to what I was doing to myself by giving everything I was away. I just remember being done. I remember wanting to run away from everything and everyone. I knew I was in deep and I didn’t know how to back out of all of the commitments and relationships I was in where I found myself suddenly completely disinterested. My intuition was screaming. These weren’t my hopes, dreams, and desires! I was hemorrhaging energy. The feeling came back to my body and it was all fiery exhaustion and anger. My body ached ceaselessly and my frustration at everyone depending so much on me and taking advantage of me was difficult to manage at times. I wanted to keep every part of myself for myself. I needed every minute, every movement, and every thought to be mine. How could people use me like this?
This was the messy beginning of my look inward. I rested. I sat with myself (avoiding everyone) and started being extremely mindful of my time usage. I needed to figure out what I wanted instead of what everybody wanted from me. This was really difficult coming from a place where movement is synonymous with productivity and productivity is the basis of all worth. How did I get to this place? How did I manage to believe that I needed to give every aspect of myself away?
By paying attention to my habitual responses to situations that I would find myself in, I established that I was the problem. I was trying to broker worth by offering help before help was even requested. People didn’t even have to ask me to do anything because I would hear their story, determine what they should be asking for in terms of support, and offer it to them. Of course nobody turned me down! What an Angel! I knew exactly what everybody needed all the time! But by doing this, I was giving myself away. One offer after another after another. I was resentful and the only person I had to blame was myself. By offering help like this, there was no value placed on my work by the person I was helping. It became a transaction where they were doing me a favour by letting me help and be involved. I felt so used, which was never my intent. This was supposed to make me feel worthy!
I’m so embarrassed writing this. I feel so guilty for being so angry. I can’t believe that this was me and that I invited everything in. Of course people started asking me for help and support with things on top of the help I was already offering. Why wouldn’t they? I would do anything to help. I needed so badly to feel productive, worthy, and useful… the only issue is that I didn’t. I had to experience all of this so I could look within and make the shift towards myself.
The old patterns are so deeply ingrained. I still literally have to bite my tongue sometimes to keep from immediately blurting out an offer for the obvious help someone needs as they’re telling me about their dreams and the trials on the path to realizing them. I have to make abundantly sure I’m being mindful and present in my body during conversations where I am specifically asked for or to be a part of something because I found as I’m saying “yes,” my body is often tensing up and recoiling over the very idea of the upcoming energy expenditure. I still love to help and be included in things, but I’m absolutely following Derek Sivers’ advice about things either being a “HELL YEAH!” or a “No.” I find that his concept is profoundly useful in helping me save myself for myself.
Despite all of the hardships along this path, the situations I found myself in were necessary for helping me grow and define my purpose. I was meant to live this way for as long as I did. I was meant to be part certain projects and situations to discover that they were not mine and not part of a path I was meant to follow. It all helped clarify what the direction of my path actually is by showing me what it absolutely isn’t.
With my practice of keeping a part of myself for myself, I have learned that no matter what is happening around me, no matter what situation I am in, I always have a place within me to return to. I have a space that energizes me because I remember who I am from this place… what I want. By feeling deeply within myself, I can access my intuition which guides me towards what it is that I need. Sometimes that means staying and helping, sometimes that means walking away and conserving my energy so that I can do what I need to do elsewhere.
My purpose exists in this space. I had previously given my purpose away to anybody who even suggested they might need my support. I gave myself so willingly to help other people achieve their dreams not realizing that I was robbing them of the experiences of hardship and trial that will make the stories of their goals so fascinating to hear. I was ecstatic to be a part of their journey without having any journey of my own and in retrospect, that feels like cheating.
Life is about the journey, but it’s so important to differentiate between what belongs to you and what belongs to someone else. I love to support people, but I also love my new boundaries between what is their work and what is mine. I have to protect my energy and tread my own path because nobody will ever really care about me the way I care about me.
Plus, I want to have some really cool stories about my own dreams to tell.