I’m a total giver. A listener. I thrive in helping others figure their crap out. I get my mojo from offering a helping ear and being a sounding board. Which is of course awesome; I love that I can do this. But it comes with a cost. Countless times I’ve been asked whether working with clients in mental health drains me. How I manage to keep positive when I keep hearing sad stories. And the truth is it has not been easy.
To be completely honest, when I first began my journey in Psychology and for a long time, this was a major challenge for me. I was told I care too much. That I need to create boundaries and not let my feelings get in the way of my work. That I would not survive in Psychology if I don’t protect myself. But this advice, as helpful as it might be to some, was really brutal to me. I went into Psychology because I cared, because I wanted to use feelings to inform my work, not keep them out of it. It was a very confusing time because it challenged my view of what Psychology was about. I truly resisted creating a barrier, until I had no choice.
There came a point when I was running out of steam. I was running out of compassion, because I was not separating myself from my work in a healthy way. I was going home thinking of my clients. I thought that to be helpful, I had to feel how they feel. I confused empathy with sympathy. I had feelings of guilt for being unable to change people’s situation. I was totally burnout.
And it was not just in my work. This feeling leaked into my personal relationships so much so that I felt I could not show up for my friends and my family. I just could not face being asked to support someone in my personal life, because I felt I had given all of my compassion away at work. I felt I had little strength to be there for others, so I slowly but gradually withdrew. Instead of learning how to create healthy boundaries in my work, I built a barrier in my personal life. With this withdrawal came an additional wall, that of not being able to reach out to others. I noticed I struggled in turn to ask for help from the people close to me. What was meant to protect me became my own barricade.
When I realised this and with time and support from my mentors I learned how to set up healthy boundaries in my work that not only protect me, but also allow my clients to feel safe in our professional relationship. But it took time, effort and trial and error.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because in personal relationships, things are not so clear-cut. Boundaries are blurry and get overstepped all the time. Relationship dynamics keep changing, so you constantly need to adjust to the new balance. The child becomes the parent, the listener needs to become the talker. If you consider yourself a giver, or even a good friend, but you find yourself emotionally drained by certain relationships, you will need to refine how you protect yourself.
Do certain people suck your energy, or make you feel down even when you are at really good place in your life?
Do you notice that no matter how much you try to be positive, in the presence of some people in your life, you become defeated and overwhelmed?
Do you feel that you certain people steal your power away from you?
Or perhaps you feel you are unable to speak your mind when you around that person?
Can you identify someone in your life that keeps asking for your attention in unhelpful ways, yet although you recognise it, you just can’t stop yourself from engaging in this dynamic?
Do you find yourself being untrue to who you are in order to soothe someone else?
Do you often feel like you’ve lost yourself and totally drained after speaking to certain people?
Yep – we’ve all been there. The person who constantly complains about everything in her life and is never pleased with anything? The one who is always the victim? The one who needs to constantly ask for reassurance? In fact, we all do some, or perhaps all, of these sometimes. But guess what? It is not their job to change – it is yours. They have their own work to do and they might do it or they might not, but what you need to realise is that it is your responsibility to protect yourself. What is truly life changing is learning to create a protective sheet around you that does not weigh you down, but instead allows you to be fully present in your relationships without the fear of your energy being taken away from you. Knowing how to show up as a giver, maintaining your integrity and your wellbeing is essential not only for you, but for the long-term health of all of your relationships.
So my little giver, listen carefully.
You can be a good friend, in fact you can be the best-est friend, without draining yourself out.
You can be there for someone without needing to give up who you are and what you need.
You can be an incredible support to your person while respecting and staying true to your needs.
You can listen to someone’s pain, you can stay there and be with them, without needing to bathe your whole being in it. It is ok for you to keep a part of yourself safe from it.
It’s ok to hold someone’s hand, but refuse to be dragged down with them. It is more than ok; it is essential. What help will you be if you find yourself unable to meet your own needs? How can you be useful if you are depleted?
It’s ok to put yourself first, even when you take care of others.
It’s ok for you to be happy, even if someone else is not.
You do not have to play down your light not to offend someone’s darkness – it is with this light that you will help them recover and grow out of it.
It is with your light that you can shine a path of healing for them.
You might have noticed there is a little bit of an energy/chakra theme around here lately. This is all because I’ve been diving deeper into the chakras and working on my own energy and whenever I discover or I’m going through something that is valuable, I make sure I put it out there for you somehow.
Later this month, I am running my next Live workshop in London ENERGY FLOW: A Yoga & Meditation Journey through the Chakras. If you want to dive deeper into understanding how you can connect to your energy and learn more about the chakras, join me for an introspective afternoon of yoga, breathwork and gorgeous meditation all centered around the chakra system.
To book your space & for more information, check out the details here!
++ This is all from me my lovelies, thank you for stopping by. Now I’d love to know from you: Are you a giver? How do you protect yourself and your energy? Leave me a comment below!
Huge love to you xx
Image credit: Unsplash