Friday, 6 October 2017

Are the happiest people really those who do for others?

For me this a very interesting idea and for the most part I believe it is true… for the most part.  When we are doing for others we feel connected and that makes us feel good about ourselves.  I am all for that but I think there are circumstances where it could become a burden.

I have personally struggled with the concept of being of service.  I have spent many hours being of service to my Shamanic community.  The concept is that when you are of service that give-away will be returned to you three fold.  Well I don’t always feel that way when I am standing outside in minus 10 Celsius mid-winter and everything I touch is frozen. However I know that it is worth it because I also feel connected to that community and I know that I am an integral part of it.  The same goes for when I stand with the Salvation Army Kettle in December offering my time to help raise funds to support those less fortunate than myself.

I feel that this type of altruism truly makes you feel happy, connected and allow you to feel deep gratitude.  Volunteering for the greater good of your community makes you smile. However I believe there can be a dark side to giving.  There is a different expectation when you are supporting people you don’t know and it can be quite different when you are doing for people you do know.

So many people have spoken to me about being depleted by doing for others.  They have given their all only to be left feeling used and taken advantage of.  At times the consequences can be quite devastating.  So why is it not the same? 

I think that there are a couple of reasons it isn’t the same when you are doing for people you know:


Often our personal relationships are complicated and we could be acting out of guilt or an attempt to manipulate.  We also want to feel as if we are getting something in return and that the other person appreciates all we do for them.  When we are always giving without receiving something in return there is a good chance that we will end up feeling resentful and that doesn’t make you feel happy.


With the people we love we often don’t have healthy boundaries and we don’t always know how to create them.  It is usual for us to do things for these people and when we either can’t or no longer want to we don’t know how to draw the lines so that we can support ourselves and not end up feeling depleted.  Saying “NO” to the people we love is difficult for many.  Feeling depleted in any way, whether it is energetically or financially is so bad for us that the consequences can have a negative impact on our health.  When we realize this and start to build healthy boundaries there is always push-back form the people who were benefiting from our generousness and we end up feeling disappointed and miserable.  

So, how are we able to give to those we love and still feel happy and not like a martyr? In my opinion it can be done in the following ways:
  • Create healthy boundaries so that you are not depleting yourself.  Decide what you will and will not do.  Communicate these boundaries clearly and from a place of neutrality and then stand your ground!  No good setting boundaries and then not honouring them.  Mixed signals are the worst especially if you had to battle to set those boundaries.
  • Care for yourself and your health.  It should be obvious but it is not.  You can only help people when you are healthy and strong.   Remember when you travel they always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others – think about it.
  • If you have expectations that have to be met by the other person – then don’t do it!  This is especially true if these are “unknown” expectations.  If you have not voiced what you need in return and want the other person to “magically” know – stop and look at your own motives.  Perhaps they are not as clear as you believe them to be.
  • If you believe that the person you are doing something for will “owe” you something in return you should once again check you motives.  Are you trying to be manipulative?

The idea is not to discontinue giving but to do so with healthy boundaries and with known expectations so that everyone in the equation gets what they need, the feeling of being supported, appreciated and loved…

Love & Light!