Most of us are raised to be caring and kind to others. However too often, people take advantage of others having a giving spirit. In time, generous individuals may become disheartened and depressed while feeling used and abused. Correcting the problem does not require venturing to the opposite end of the spectrum and becoming self-absorbed and selfish. Get in touch with yourself and set limits.
Take a quiet moment of reflection and figure out why you habitually give and give. Some fear being lonely, need to feel needed, resist confrontation or have little self-confidence. Consider starting a journal and write down the times that you feel the need to be self-sacrificing. You many see a pattern and the true motive behind your actions.
After determining why you feel the need to constantly give of yourself, your possessions or your time, think about the small steps that you can take to transform into a stronger, more assertive person. Set objectives on a daily or weekly basis. Include events that help build your self-esteem. Adopt a healthier lifestyle, take a class or whatever brings you satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Devote at least one hour every week to “me” time. When someone comes to you with a request and you cannot find the strength to say no, tell them that you will give the matter some thought. In this way you have time to decide whether you feel comfortable in cooperating.
The responsibility of transforming into a stronger person lies with you alone. It might be helpful to consider the times in your life when someone annoyed you or when you were determined to satisfy a natural need. Perhaps a younger sibling took joy in upsetting you by invading your space. You became angry and retaliated. Did you fear telling your parents when you were hungry, injured or needed comfort? In those moments you acted appropriately and obtained the desired results.
As you discover your self-worth, begin setting limits as to how much of yourself you are willing to give. Implement your newly found barriers with family members, friends and co-workers. Recognize that healthy relationships should involve give and take. While the first time you find yourself having to say no may prove uncomfortable, in time, being assertive becomes easier.
Your old giving nature will naturally try to surface and cause guilt when you stand your ground. However, you will learn that others will eventually accept the new you. After turning down a request, walk away and resist the urge to second guess your decision or allow guilt to prey upon your thoughts. Get on with your life and choose to focus on things that truly matter and make you a happier person.