When I started researching this topic, I was astounded by how many quotes, pictures and memes there are about this. Since when has it become ok not to take care of ourselves? Why should we have to sacrifice anything? Sacrifice implies loss when helping someone. I think we have been so distracted by our generosity that we lost sight of why we do what we do. We are so fascinated by the idea of being a hero, that we forget to help just because we want to. We feel almost guilty for not putting ourselves first. There is no wonder there are so many people who find this sort of thing normal. My research tell me this attitude is known as unmitigated communion. Help should not be associated with sacrifice, it should be rewarding! We should never feel depleted because of it, we should feel invigorated.
What can be perceived as doing the right thing can often be really bad for ourselves. There is a general feeling that “doing good” or “helping others” requires us to sacrifice something, or even let ourselves be hurt by the process.The tricky part is when it comes to loved ones. Having to “sacrifice” is commonplace in close relationships. This however, does serve to better ourselves in the long run. ( to an extent of course) So it should be considered investment or trade instead of sacrifice.
As someone who has been in the service of others for more than a few years,I can unequivocally say that service to others should not be a sacrifice. It should be done in pursuit of self improvement. In the hunt for our own happiness. To make ourselves better people. As soon as you start seeing it as a sacrifice, your motivation should be questioned. Any negative feel you get from doing the right thing, should be a warning, that it’s not the right thing for you.
Is it sacrifice when you give up time and get spiritual satisfaction? Is it sacrifice when you give up energy and get emotional reward in return? Is it sacrifice when you give up money and receive enlightenment in return? NO! That’s a trade. If you feel you are sacrificing, then there is a problem, you need to address. Usually the problem is lack of reciprocation and you are being taken advantage of… or your motivation is questionable.
Too often I see people are so afraid to be true to themselves, they actually put others’ needs before their own. How this is good for anyone is beyond me. You want to help someone, by all means… help. But don’t do so if it means you will be hurt in the process. That is just self destructive. I have always told my trainees to think of themselves as a kettle. If you keep filling others’ cups without refilling the kettle, eventually there will be none left to give… not even for yourself when you need. Whereas, if you keep filling the kettle, what overflows will be more than enough to fill any cups that matter.
Never do something to avoid hurting someone else, if it means you will be hurt in the process. Always be true to yourself. Always do what you need, to educate yourself, better yourself, improve yourself. Taking care of yourself is definitely not selfish, if anything, it is logical. It only makes sense to make sure you are strong enough to help when it is needed. Instead of being burnt out helping everyone, for the wrong reasons.
Misguided assistance can often do more damage than we realise, to ourselves as well as those we are trying to help. Because I’ve been so involved with Kids Haven, I’ll use street kids as an example. It’s seems logical to ease your guilty conscience by giving a few coins, but those coins are better spent by contributing to an institution that will help get the kids off the street. Teaching them a skill. Giving them an education. The same can be said for you. Instead of wasting your energy on those who are merely taking your coins, save it for something that will really matter… the institution of YOU!
What it boils down to is… change yourself! Change your reality. Change your perception of helping others. Instead of helping because it’s the right thing, help because it’s the right thing for you! It’s a monumental challenge, I know, but if we can change ourselves… and everyone we know can change themselves…and everyone they know can change… before you know it, the world is changing, and all we did is change 1 person…ourselves.
As always, I am open to discussion, new ideas and views.