You build your wealth and wellbeing by being in service.
When you are in service you find your joy, your mission and you make your money.
But what if your efforts to be in service are leading to you being shafted?
What if you are focusing your time, energy, effort and money on helping other people and that is leaving you broke, drained, overwhelmed and confused?
We promised to write a blog specifically for all of you who feel that you are over-extending yourselves in service of others and yet are gaining nothing in return, and grinding to a halt.
This is this blog.
And what better way to start it than with a controversial statement that may ruffle your feathers?
Whatever you are doing is NOT service if you are feeling drained, exhausted, resentful, overwhelmed, and burnt out.
Those feelings are actually an indication that you have stepped off the path of service!
Work with me here.
Think about a time when you thought you were doing something because you were being helpful, responsible… you were being a good person, and it left you empty…
Like that time when you:
- Spent all evening baking gluten-free, nut-free, yeast-free, vegan muffins for your son’s school bake sale, and then worked on your sales pitch until 3 a.m..
- Flew across the country to attend your friend’s wedding in your busiest business season.
- Brought your mom to live home with you after her divorce – indefinitely.
- Took that extra shift at work because the company needs you and no one else can do it when you desperately need that time to recharge.
- Took the day to help your friend move places, when you’d taken it off to work on your startup launch.
If I were to ask you: “Why’d you do it?”, perhaps you’d tell me:
- Because I have to / I have to / it is my duty / I am obligated.
- Because my parents are my responsibility.
- Because if I didn’t do it, who would.
- Because I am the kind of “parent”, “friend” who shows up for my kids EVERY TIME.
Let’s unpack a few things, shall we?
#1 Context is KEY
The core reason we do things that we do not want to do is because we feel obligated; we feel that we have to. We feel that we would be bad people if we didn’t.
- We have to protect our children from pain or ridicule.
- We have to provide for our parents when they grow old.
- We have to show up for all the important events and milestones in our friends’ lives.
- We have to swoop in and save the day at work.
ABSOLUTELY. EVERY TIME.
Our success and failure as parents, friends, children, employees, partners etc. depends on it
ABSOLUTELY. EVERY TIME.
In fact, our very identity depends on us succeeding in meeting every “should” and “have to”.
I get it. Believe me, I set a very high standard that I aspire to meet in all my relationships.
What this way of thinking is missing though is this:
These things we measure ourselves against meeting are not happening in a vacuum!
In an ideal world, yes, we’d like to be the person who shows up for our friends every time. In an ideal world, we would also like to be the person who takes impeccable care of our business.
In the real world, the standards we want to meet, and the things we want to show up for are often happening all at once and competing for our time and attention.
In the real world, we have to weigh two (or more) things that are important to us against each other. And THAT IS NOT ABSOLUTE.
And while it is important to have guidelines that govern the kind of person we want to be and how we want to show up in the world, it is not enough to have a “rule” that we want to live by.
One main reason why people burn out is because they cage themselves with rigid rules. They build a concept about the person they want to be about each thing in isolation.
And when all things happen ALL AT ONCE, they are screwed. Instead of choosing wisely, they do it all until they are done and cannot do any more.
Instead what is needed is for them to consciously make decisions that take account of context:
- What do I have on my plate?
- Where am I with my energy?
- What is my bandwidth and capacity?
- What is “more” and “most” important?
- What needs to take a backseat?
- How can I still show up for someone else in a way that honors me?
In other words, people who successfully take on responsibility while honoring themselves are always asking themselves:
In this context:
- Is this the right thing for me?
- Are these the right people?
- Is this the right time? And is the time right?
- What is the right amount or effort?
People who do service right understand that they have consciousness so that they can take stock of context.
#2 Your Compass is EVERYTHING
“Many of us feel stress and get overwhelmed not because we’re taking on too much, but because we’re taking on too little of what really strengthens us.” – Marcus Buckingham
Here’s the thing:
When presented with what seems like a choice between showing up for someone else or showing up for themselves, people who overextend themselves almost always choose someone else!
I was listening to Glenn Lundy on “The Science Behind a Powerful Morning Routine” (Episode 331) as he shared this concept of taking care of himself first and responded to the comment: “This is selfish. I gotta take care of everyone else!”
He nails the principle behind putting yourself first in an unusual and powerful way…
Through telling the story of The Three Little Pigs.
- The one who built his home the fastest with straw.
- The one who built his home from wood.
- The one who took the time to build a solid foundation – a stone home.
And when life’s storm came (taking the shape of a big bad wolf huffing and puffing), the pig who built a solid foundation had the ability to support and contain those he loves.
Taking care of yourself means ensuring that you have a solid foundation to stand on physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially.
We make our physical body a priority by focusing on investing in our physical health and vitality.
We make our mental-emotional health a priority by pursuing our joy and prioritizing taking the actions we need to be grounded, be at peace, and be loving.
We make our spiritual health a priority when we make consistent time to connect with the divine, and our own inner divinity.
And we make our financial health a priority, when we make choices that allow us to build stability and flow in our lives, and cushion ourselves against life’s adversities.
And nothing takes precedence over that!
What my Mystery School guide Christina Becerra always says is: especially when you commit yourself to living a life of service, it is vital that you “build your Camelot”.
And you build it, not only for yourself first… and then for all the other people in your life who are depending on you. So when the storm comes “huffing and puffing” your way, you can weather the storm.
You can protect those you love, who perhaps have built homes of straw or wood and need somewhere to go.
You can be a rock, for yourself and for others, when adversity inevitably comes.
You can create a sacred safe space – for yourself and for others.
If you are feeling over-extended, ask yourself, how is my foundation? And what am I doing to build a solid foundation?
- How am I making my physical health and vitality THE PRIORITY?
- How am I making my mental-emotional state THE PRIORITY?
- How am I making my spiritual connection THE PRIORITY?
- How am I making building my financial foundation THE PRIORITY?
#3 What are you Avoiding?
Let’s face it. Sometimes we overextend ourselves because…
Well, we would rather pour our energy and attention into anything other than…
The thing that we need to do in our lives that we are really resistant to.
- Spend hours on end counseling our friends through their relationship troubles to avoid tending to our own relationship that is slowly and silently falling apart.
- Take on pro-bono client after another to avoid dealing with our insecurities about money and charging for our services, and God forbid, getting rejected.
- Volunteer our time to help friends and family with everything to avoid sitting our behinds down for the tedious and painful hours, writing and deleting our novel’s first chapter.
This way, we are busy.
And when we are busy, we don’t have time to sit with discomfort.
And so long as we have no time for the discomfort, it will never build sufficiently and push us towards higher ground – a new, better, more aligned foundation.
Other times, we overextend ourselves because the moment we imagine putting ourselves first, we begin hearing the disapproving voice of someone we care about complaining about our lack of consideration.
And while that may not be as obvious, when we comply, we are betraying our own needs because we are avoiding the disapproval of others.
So if you find that you are constantly helping other people, and the moment you have a quiet moment to yourself, you are feeling a nagging discomfort, or dissatisfaction, it is time to ask yourself: what am I avoiding?
A Final Note – ON MARTYRDOM
I feel that as a woman, the comments I hear the most from other women – especially mothers – invariably come down to: “I’m a mother. When presented with the choice between providing for my children and protecting them from pain, and building my foundation, I have to choose them”.
To this, I would like to share one perspective, in the words of two people.
The first is Ipssismus Dave – one of the three lineage holders of The Modern Mystery School. And his words embody the hermetic principle: you cannot give that which you do not have.
He says: “I’m a father. You would think I’d say that my child would be the most important thing. Right? That is a misunderstanding.
Everything that you do that moves you towards joy gives you a greater abundance to share that joy with others.
If I want my child to understand that their life can be lived from a state of joy, then I need to experience the joy so I can share that understanding and experience with him directly.”
The second person is Glennon Doyle, the author of Untamed who describes how today’s motto in raising our children: “never allow anything difficult to happen to your child” is “why we feel exhausted, neurotic, and guilty”. It is why “our kids suck”
“Because people who do not suck are people who have failed, dusted themselves off, and tried again.
People who do not suck are people who have been hurt, so they have empathy for others who are hurt.
People who do not suck are those who have learned from their own mistakes by dealing with the consequences.
People who do not suck are people who have learned how to win with humility and how to lose with dignity.”
– Glennon Doyle
If you are a mother, if you are a provider. If you are someone who has people who depend on them, please build your foundation.
Don’t be a martyr.
Be a rock.
Be your divine inspired self.
Until next time,
Mike & Lulwa
Other content that might interest you:
- Understanding Stress and Reactivity – Part 1 of 2
- The Counter-Instinctive Way To Manifest Wealth & Wellbeing – Part 1
- The Counter-Instinctive Way To Manifest Wealth & Wellbeing – Part 2
- The Counter Instinctive Principle to Achieving Audacious Goals & Building Habits that Stick
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Blog collaboration: Mike Popovici & Lulwa Saffarini, Blog written by: Lulwa Saffarini
- Main photo licensed form Adobe Stock
- Joe Pesci Feathers GIF – from Giphy