You know how sometimes you keep hearing the same thing from completely different sources? That has happened to me recently with the following phrase: "You can't give away something that you don't own." The first time I heard it something went "clunk" into my brain. I though a little bit about it and then forgot it (of course!). The next couple of times I heard it, I thought that I'd better do some further thinking around it.
The context this statement is, of course, life; and the healing arena. If I don't own something for myself first, I can not give it away to others. Ownership implies cost doesn't it? I have worked hard to purchase something I desired. For example, if I desire peace in my crazy busy life, this (unfortunately) isn't just going to fall into my lap. I have to be purposeful about the pursuit of peace. I have to de-clutter my schedule. I have to make time to relax and unwind. I have to deal with my anger and my anxiety. I have to work on the negative thinking that robs me of my peace. Basically, my peace is going to be totally worth it - but it IS going to cost me. BUT, once I am an owner of this peace, I am now freely able to give it to others. I'm aware of how much it cost me, so I am gentle and patient and encouraging with others. In fact, because I am now, by nature 'peaceful' I unwittingly share it with others everywhere I go. By my reactions, by my words and actions, by my presence in the room.
But what if I tried to give peace away to others when I have not first attained it myself? Have you ever been told to do something by someone you know full well hasn't done that themselves? Been told to 'cheer up' by someone who is sad? Been told to 'get over it' by someone who is obviously 'not over it' themselves? Or been helped by someone that obviously needs help for themselves? How does it feel? Fake right? Or confusing or annoying or sometimes downright manipulative; (like it comes with a cost).
It reminds me of the Rescuer role in The Drama Triangle (just follow the link for more info on this). The Rescuer gives and gives to others but it is always from a deficit; from a feeling of being 'not good enough:' "If I can make someone else feel better, or help them in some way, then I will feel better about myself." When our good acts are self-focussed rather than others-focussed they often ultimately end in further wounding for everyone involved. The Rescuer ends up hurt, angry and burnt out. The Victim is further disempowered and stuck in their cycle of hopelessness.
So my challenge to myself, and my invitation to you is the following question: "Are you smoking what you're selling?" Is what you're asking your friends / family / colleagues to do or be, something that you're prepared to do or be yourself?
Here's an example from my own life. I am a counsellor. It's my job to help people learn to look at and move through their pain. To be honest though, to me it's much more than a job, it's who I am. I'm naturally one of those people that look out for others - the "See a need, fill a need" type. This brings me a lot of joy, but it also costs a lot. Physical energy, emotional energy, spiritual energy. I have learned, and am still learning that I can not love and care for others until I have first learned to love and care for myself. I've been in these situations, and it's not good. I've been so unbalanced that I'll come home from work and snapped at my husband and kids because I've expended all my emotional energy on "helping" people all day. I've talked to people about having to face their pain or look at their anger; while the whole time subtly avoiding my own. I've teetered on the brink of burn-out. I know what this feels like now. I have learned the warning signs. I know I'm saying all the right words but the heart, the love isn't there. It kind of feels like a whole lot of bees buzzing around in a jar - trying to hold myself together so I can 'help' others. Not Good!
So hearing this phrase has been a really good 'check in' for me. "Is the thing that I'm trying to give away something that I own for myself?"
My invitation to you, dear reader, is to ask yourself the same. Do an emotional, spiritual, physical check in: How is your body feeling? How is your "stressometer?" Are you pushing yourself too hard? When was the last time you checked in with what your own needs are? When was the last time you did something really nice for yourself? Is your input matching your output? Are you feeling connected and loved?
If the answer to any of the above is in the negative, how about doing something about it? How can you learn to live out of a overflow rather than a deficit?
By the way, there is another side to all this: the "Fake it till you make it" side. But we can talk about that next blog.
Have a fantastic week, and I'd love to hear your feedback or comments!