Passions are hard to find, which is why when you do, you put so much time and effort into nurturing them. Whether your passion involves a romantic relationship, your family, or your career, you find that giving as much of yourself as you could results in a sense of accomplishment and well-being. You feel that you affect lives, that what you do matters.

Then slowly you dole out more and more of yourself. You overextend by trying to do everything in your power to please your partner, your relatives, or your boss. You complain about being tired of being asked for so much, but you continue to go above and beyond what’s expected of you even when it's not needed. You end up spent and unsatisfied, and still you refuse to get out of the situation because without you realizing it, the situation has already defined you. You’ve lost your sense of self.

You’ve become an enabler —someone who allows others to shine by sacrificing your own light. “In truth, while apparently helping, the enabler tends to have poor boundaries, trusts too easily, has a poor sense of their own value and seeks validation through their actions,” explains integral life coach and self-development expert Michael J. Formica on Psychology Today. As an enabler, you often give too much even if you’re already being unfair to yourself. You compromise your happiness while thinking that it’s your burden to relent and be generous.

However, “over-giving is not quite the same thing as generosity,” says Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah.com. “Generosity is neither entangling nor aggressive, because the generous person doesn’t expect anything in return. The over-giver doesn’t expect anything in return either—except to be petted and feted and praised and loved unconditionally for the rest of the time.” When you lose your sense yourself, you try to find completion and happiness in others and become bitter when you don’t.

Before you can give a part of yourself to your passion, you should first be whole. A wise person once told me that before you ask others to drink from your soul, you should first hold a full glass, so full that it overflows. The overflow is what you give —you should never offer what’s in your glass and you should never allow it to become empty.

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If you wish to give happiness, you should first be happy.

Happiness and completion begins with and in you. Nurture your mind and your heart before anyone else’s, and never give that part of you that’s reserved for you and you alone.

“I’ve come to believe that when you give heedlessly or with an agenda, you actually can give until it hurts, and that the person who is most gravely injured in the exchange is the other guy,” shares Elizabeth. “These days, I try not to give anymore until it hurts. Instead, I only give until it helps.”

If you give yourself all away, what’s left for you or for the others that come later in life? Magtira ka ng para sa sarili mo. Never lose the person that you are, because you can never share what you don’t have. Stay full and whole, and you’ll find that you don’t need to rip your heart out to make yourself and other people happy.

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