If you have been reading my blog posts you know already I am kind-hearted, polite, friendly and love people. My goal in life has been and still is to help people (and living things, including nonpoisonous bugs).
Because of these characteristics I often helped others without assessing my own ability, energy, needs, cost of time and my present obligations. Even though I know we are called to help the weak and help others out of love, we need to assess our own resources. Otherwise, more often than not we will say, “yes” instead of “no.” Then later, too late, we realize those “yeses” frequently came with no thought to the cost on our lives and often on our families.
As we get older sometimes our lives become full of responsibilities that we are obligated to fulfill first. For instance, if you promised your child that you would take them somewhere special but was frequently unable to fulfill your promises because you had not thought of your promise to your child before you said, “Yes” to someone else. How do you think your child will eventually feel if you constantly put your promise to them on hold? I often helped others without assessing my ability, situation, time and other factors. In many situations, this is wise.
Ironically a gift of time, money, or effort loses some of its value, in my opinion, when the personal price is not first considered. The personal price includes the things you had already committed to; but now do not have time to do. The value comes when we look at what we are doing for someone else and consider the value of our offering and then give the help the person needs. The value is in the knowledge that we are giving up something of ours (time, effort, money, a gift, or volunteering, even) to help another person.
Imagine that a dear friend tells you they need a thousand dollars. There are several questions to ask yourself to evaluate before your helping them. But you are so moved by their dire straits that you hand over the thousand dollars without even thinking. (You big hearted person you!) After you give the money to them you decide you had better be sure you have more money left over for other bills and necessities. OH, NO, you don’t have any more money! OR…
You tell them you need to check your bank account to see if you can afford such a big “amount.” Then you decide, based on what you have and how much you owe other businesses or companies whether you can afford to give them $1000 or even a lesser amount. OR….
You help them do research on how to get a loan, make the money, sell something they have or figure out which of their relatives could help them with a loan. OR…
You tell them you are unable to help them at this time. You assess your funds and if able to do so, give them a fraction of what they asked for as a token of your true concern for them and your desire to help as much as you can.
The first time I realized I needed to say”no” more, was when I was a young adult. I was showing a little girl some of the glass figurines I had collected as a child. One was a small, porcelain, gray, tabby, kitten lying on his back, with paws in the air, looking playfully sweet. The little girl fell in love with it and without thinking I gave it to her. She was elated.
Later it struck me how much that little figurine had meant to me as a memento of my childhood. I felt sadness that I would never see the memento again. Yes, this is generosity which is good. I thought of her excitement first before my own feelings and whether or not I should or should not give it away so easily. In some ways I decreased the value of my gift though by not considering its value to me. On the other hand, I did it from the generous nature of my heart.
Even though the gift was given freely I could have conveyed to her it’s value, if I had explained how much the kitten meant to me. The girl’s age was 5 or 6 years old. I could also have demonstrated to her how to take care of the kitten by putting it in a safe place when she wasn’t playing with it. And from my own perspective I would have given a better gift if I had stopped to tell her how much that kitten meant to me as something to treasure when I grew up, instead of just saying, “Here, you can have it.”
The point is, it is good to be generous. But because we are important and our needs and desires are important too, we should always consider what we give away before we give something to someone. Sometimes it is alright to say, “No.”
I tell this story because when I grew older I gave away pieces of myself to others. I was and still am somewhat of a giver and people-pleaser. I want to make people happy because so many are not happy. I want to share some of the happiness I have so others can have a bright spot in their day if they have a lot on them.
Later I realized no one can make someone else truly happy. Happiness comes from within. We have to realize that we deserve to be happy, in spite of the past mistakes or incidents that were not of our making. We have to want to be content enough with our lives; to foster and grow a seed of happiness by trying to see the good things in our lives and in ourselves. We cannot make ourselves happy but we can find a source of happiness from within ourselves.
Some find happiness/joy by finally seeing that they have worth; they are important in their world; their opinions have value. Some are so weighted down from the past they cannot get out of the pit of despair without help. Everything that happens can serve as a trigger to relive something from the past.
You are important too. Take good care of that which you have or were born with. Help others to value their lives too. Sometimes it is good to help someone walk through their own problems; give them options; then leave the decision to them. This kind of help enables them to trust their own judgment and ability to make decisions.