Self Sacrifice: Are You Giving Too Much?

self-sacrifice: are you giving too much?Recently, I heard about a horrific event that happened right next to my home town.  A family was walking in a park and a man suddenly opened fire, killing the husband and one child.  The mom basically threw herself in front of the gunman, telling her two other children to run and get help.  She did live, but this story is a perfect example of what self-sacrifice is, pure love, unselfish, unwavering, unconditional love.

Most of our daily sacrifices are not this extreme.  We make sacrifices in our relationships, with our children, or at work.  It may seem so natural, that you may not even be aware it is happening.   It has been instilled in us that it’s our duty as lovers, wives, husbands, employees, children, spiritual beings etc. to sacrifice for the greater good.

to give up one’s self, interests or well-being for the sake of someone or something else. 

Society praises this type of sacrifice, often at the expense of the individual.  Self-sacrifice can be a very powerful act of love, if done correctly and with the right intentions.  But in today’s society when do you know if you are sacrificing too much of yourself?

Ask yourself these 4 questions:

Do you feel depleted and exhausted after helping others?

Giving should come from a place of love.  It should fill you with joy.  The act of giving should invigorate you and give you a type of energy that makes you want to keep on giving.  It makes you feel good.  When this is the case, giving doesn’t really feel like a sacrifice at all.

However, If you find that after helping others, you’re feeling drained and exhausted or resentful, you are giving too much of yourself.  Or not giving of yourself in the right fashion. Remember, you need to take care of yourself first.  We can only truly help others when we are well nourished: mind, body and spirit.  We are no help to anyone if we are a mess ourselves.  If you’re feeling this way, it may be time for some serious self-love to recharge your batteries.

Are people expecting you to give and no longer appreciative of your sacrifices?

You have a kind heart and want to help others.   I get that, but do you find that people are beginning to take advantage of your generosity?  The money you loaned them is no longer enough and now they expect more?  You are now expected to work all Saturdays, after agreeing to fill in for someone once?  Are you standing up for yourself?  Your time, money, services and love are all valuable.  People should be appreciative of that.  If they aren’t, re-examine how and when you are giving of yourself.  Beware of the leeches.  Those people who will suck you dry.  All they do is take and take.  If you don’t put a limit on this, they completely deplete you.

Are you now enabling someone’s behavior or causing them to be dependent on you?  It is OK to set boundaries with people.  Just because you helped them once or twice does not mean you need to continue to help them.  Or maybe the avenue of helping needs to change, for example, can you help with your time instead of shelling out your hard earned dough?

Are you feeling anxious or stressed?

Every time your phone rings your stomach turns and you are just praying it is not that one person.  Are you secretly hoping they are not going to ask you for something?   Giving should make you feel good inside, if it’s giving you the opposite effect, it is time to evaluate whether you are able to give in this situation anymore.

Helping others should not make you feel more anxious or more stressed out.  If your needs are consistently not being met because you are always worried about others, reconsider your giving.  You shouldn’t be going into debt or not finishing your own projects at work because you are always helping someone else out.  At some point you have to realize that their problems are not your problems.  Be empathetic, be a good friend, but don’t take on their mess.

Are you giving for the right reasons?

Giving should come from your heart, from a place of love.  Sometimes we fall into the trap of giving for unhealthy reasons.  They tend to fall into two main categories, approval and manipulation.  Those of us who are always seeking approval may overcompensate in this area by constantly giving of ourselves to try and make someone else happy.  They are giving from a place of fear.  Usually what ends up happening is that they feel like they are never good enough, never quite reaching the bar.  They feel like they’ve failed.  This can lead to a whole host of struggles such as anxiety and depression.  Do what you can do, but stop trying to be perfect.  You’re just setting yourself up for failure.

Another unhealthy reason for giving is manipulation.  If you give of yourself, are you expecting something in return?  Have you done something for someone in order to use it against them later or to get your way?  Or do you play the martyr role, expecting people to feel sorry for you?  Either way, this type of self-sacrifice never ends well.  Generally people become irritated and angry with you.  You no longer seem genuine and your intentions no longer seem pure. In other words, people can see through the BS.  Save yourself the trouble, just don’t play that game.

The next time you are in a position to give, examine your motives, do it from a place of love and only give as much as you can.  The other person will be grateful and you’ll feel amazing.

Do you ever give too much?  How do you know when you are beginning to sacrifice yourself?

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