There’s love, satisfaction and joy present when we contribute in a positive way to someone’s life. Whether it’s helping a stranger with directions, being a powerful listener for a friend, a caregiver for family, or setting safety for our crew on the water.
Then why, you may ask, does helping or being of service sometimes (or often) feel frustrating and tiresome? Why do feelings of resentfulness creep in? Perhaps you even ask yourself why you bother helping that person/people anyway?! The love is clearly gone.
If you feel this way then…
Ask Yourself These Two Questions:
It’s the simplest question. Why are you choosing to help or be of service?
Believe it or not, ‘because it’s the right thing to do’ isn’t a good answer. Nor is ‘because it’s my duty,’ or ‘no one will if I don’t.’ These answers will lead straight to frustration, resentfulness and fatigue, guaranteed.
That’s because these answers don’t come from a place of power, they come from a place of powerlessness.
The only reason to be of service is because it’s important to you, because you want to do it. That’s a powerful choice.
Helping others out of a sense of duty, martyrdom, wanting to look good or wanting to be acknowledged will create a cycle of unhappiness. In yoga there’s a teaching to focus on our actions, not on the fruits of those actions. Focusing on a certain outcome creates suffering, focusing on the actions themselves invites mindfulness and joy.
If you want to spread love and receive love then choose powerfully and authentically. When you say yes to helping others, make it an authentic yes. If it’s not authentic then say no.
Women especially have a difficult time saying no, but the truth is, if you say yes when you really mean no then you’re creating more suffering for yourself and for others. Where’s the service in that?
What if I can’t say no or didn’t choose?
If you’ve committed to something that you don’t enjoy, but don’t want to say no to then change the context. Recognize that it was your choice to say yes, and now that you’re committed, commit fully and find the gem in it. There’s always something to be grateful for, sit quietly with it and you’ll see it.
Even when we feel it wasn’t our choice, remember that we can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to what happens. As I said above, change the context and find a powerful way to engage with the situation that doesn’t continue a cycle of negativity.
Who’s the Most Important Person in a Rescue?
In the safety and rescue portion of my SUP and whitewater kayak instructor certification courses I always ask: “In a water rescue, who is the most important person?”
Their immediate answer is almost always: “The victim or person in trouble.” When I tell them that it’s not the victim, the initial reaction is shock. How can the person who needs help not be the most important person?
The number one rule in water safety and rescue (really in any type of rescue situation) is that the rescuer is the most important person. That’s why those pre-flight airline safety videos tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. If the rescuer isn’t healthy and on point then everyone is in trouble, not just the victim.
Now, when we’re being of service we don’t want to think of ourselves as rescuers – that’s another way to go down the rabbit hole of negativity. The point I’m making is that if you love being of service then you’ve got to take care of yourself first.
If you feel crappy how can you expect to help others thrive? You may think that you’re helping, but they’re not fooled. Your frustration, resentfulness and fatigue show through, and probably in ways that you’re not even aware of.
Women especially have a hard time taking care of themselves and pursuing what’s important to them. Our culture has shamed women into believing that our desires are bad and selfish. Frankly, this is BS.
If you want to share your awesomeness with the world and be a contribution to family, friends and community then you’ve got to take time to do the things you love and care for your wellbeing. Go paddling, take that trip or retreat, take time for yourself in the morning – whatever is important to recharging your battery.
Just like the rescuer, you are the most important person because the world needs what you can give with full energy and love, not half ass because you aren’t sleeping enough or feel guilty about spending money doing the things you love.
And speaking of money, women tend to feel guilty about taking money out of the family budget to invest in their health and wellbeing. The truth is that money well spent now can save you multiple thousands in the future.
Putting your physical and mental wellbeing on hold can create real health problems down the road that can end up costing way more than the trip you really want to go on or the piece of gear that’ll get you outside and in your happy place more often. Remember to keep the big picture in mind.
Take Action and Feel the Love
Knowledge doesn’t make a difference until you take action. It’s time to take out your journal and write down reasons why you’re choosing to help, be of service and/or share your gifts with the world. Especially write down the whys for the situations that leave you feeling frustrated, resentful and fatigued.
If you’re struggling with a particular situation then try changing the context. Write down 3 things that you’re grateful for regarding this situation. Note: It can be really small stuff like I love the view on the drive over, or I get to see so and so smile, or this gets me out of my own head for a little while.
Next, write down 3 things that you can do right now to take better care of yourself. The healthier and more joyful you feel the more love will circulate in your life!
If you’re ready to take on you health and/or do something to nourish yourself here are some ideas: