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Don’t you just love moments of synchronicity when the perfect quote, page in a book, song on a radio, or episode on a podcast speaks perfectly to what you are experiencing?
I had a moment like that this week.
With all the extra time on my hands, I’ve been working on small projects each day and decluttering my desk was on my list for the week. As I sifted through the bills, passport in need of renewal (one can only hope…), ideas for decorating, and lists of work projects, I noticed a cocktail napkin with a handwritten flow chart on it. In fact, this napkin had been sitting there for a few months. I couldn’t throw it away.
Because it held the key to freedom from my much of my emotional suffering… the magic solution to my “stuff”… the pinpointing of the root cause of conflict in my life! Phew. Thank goodness I didn’t throw it away… it also showed up in the perfect moment as I was struggling what to write about this week!
The napkin had a circle on it with four arrows going in a clockwise direction. Underneath each arrow was this:
You over give
You get overwhelmed
You become resentful and frustrated
You feel guilty
Ummm. Yes. That is me in a nutshell. Or maybe it used to be?
The thing is, like anything you become aware of, you can also change.
The moment this wise person who “read me like a book” and left those golden words in such a pure and simple fashion… I knew I had a choice. I could stay entrapped in the cycle or hop off the rotation that was not only draining me but was also confusing to others.
And I have to tell you… it’s been an interesting experiment.
You see, I have always been the one wanting to to help, inspire, step in, offer up advice, recommend a podcast, point you to a course, etc, etc, etc. … whether you asked for it or not!
Then, after I exhausted myself with loading you up with love and support and ideas and solutions and recipes and cleanses and articles… I felt overwhelmed with the information myself.
Next, you don’t thank me profusely for pulling you out of the depths of despair? You don’t react the way I think you should? The way I would? How dare you? How ungrateful!! My unconditional love and support has suddenly become… conditional.
That leads to resentment and frustration. Now I might lay awake thinking about what YOU did to ME. What I’ll say to you next time we talk. Or maybe we won’t talk at all… Yeah that will show her/ him!
Next morning. Oh dang. I feel guilty. I sent the text or said the comment or just even thought the thought.
How do I make this right? First on the agenda, self-criticism followed by negative self talk, with a dose of guilt ridden OCD thrown in, and then a game plan on how to make this “right.”
And making it “right” sends you right back up to over giving.
So I decided to do my best and simply… STOP
Instead of trying to fix the situation or the person… I decided to just listen.
How often do you just want someone to listen? For them to offer a space where you are heard. Where your own dysfunction isn’t judged or tried to be made “right” but instead is simply acknowledged and witnessed.
So I decided to try it in new little ways, that frankly might seem second nature to you! If so, you probably aren’t a fellow pathological giver. Lucky you! But for those who are, you know how I feel. You know what I mean when I say how difficult it was to simply reply to texts with “I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. I am here if you need me” rather than “Okay.. you SHOULD check out so and so author… and you NEED to forgive yourself and you HAVE to read this book….”
It’s interesting the amount of time and effort that goes into figuring out how to be your “best self” and live your “best life.” It sounds so enticing yet oftentimes unattainable. As is usually the case, your own default systems pull you off track and before you know it, any resemblance of joy is thrown out the window.
When well meaning souls like myself (hopefully my former self!) try and wrangle you in and figure it all out for you, we are most likely stealing a golden opportunity for you. A space for YOU to figure out you. A time for you to dig deep and inspire yourself with possibilities and tools that speak to you at a deep level.
So don’t be a thief!
Give others the opportunity to feel that sense of self-possession and strength. If they need you, they’ll let you know. And if they don’t and you want to help? How about just a “I am here to support you if you need me. Just let me know.”
In a way, breaking this cycle is an elevated form of love for yourself and others.
If you are like me, trying to be in control of everyone’s experience and happiness is exhausting. So just stop… and relax… and see how you feel. It might be uncomfortable but that is okay because that is a sign you’re making progress.
Also, ask yourself “what am I getting from the over giving?” What part of you needs healing to end the overflow of energy towards others? Maybe it’s a part of you that feels you aren’t worthy of love unless you are super useful to others? Whatever it is, bring it out of the shadows and spend some time with it so you understand it and can manage it easier.
As for the other person, what an expression of love to hold a space for them until they are asking for your tools and tips and help.
To help myself let go of this cycle, I encapsulated the wise man’s flow chart into what I call the Four O’s…
As you might imagine, the first step (in this case, over-giving) is always the instigator. Our thoughts create desires which create action. If we change our thoughts around the need to over-give, we can prevent the emotions of overwhelm and the actions of overreacting and the guilty overthinking.
If my default system doesn’t resonate with you, think about what cycles you are drawn into that create emotional overwhelm or suffering. The root cause of your cycle is probably also embedded in operating outside yourself, otherwise known as “up in someone else’s biz!”
I hope you liked this week’s content. As always, below is the Daily Devotion along with other Tranquility Treats centered this week around staying present and relaxed. I hope you enjoy.
Please grant me the strength to take a breath before speaking, a pause before responding, and a moment before offering. Let me listen to the person in front of me without trying to figure out my response. Allow me to relax and stay in my lane working on my path and purpose while allowing others to shine their light on their journey as well.
Create your own spa sanctuary. When my niece comes over, my bathtub is usually the first place she goes to. Bath bombs, neck rest, bubble bath, music, candles.. create your place to chill out and feed your soul before you feed everyone else!