“It is up to the GIVER to set limits, for the RECEIVER never will.”
If you’ve ever ended a personal phone call and just wanted to take a nap, you know the feeling of depleting yourself physically or energetically at the behest of another. Daily demands often require that we be present for any number of things: families, friends and jobs mean spending time tending to things beyond the borders of our skin. And while these regular tasks may not cost much in the moment, how much damage is done over time when that energy is not replenished?
Sometimes it isn’t even regular obligations that cost us… but voluntary exchanges of time and money and information. Those who seek help (financial or otherwise), direction and counsel (for personal or business reasons) will take up as much of your time as you give them. How much you actually give is up to you. If you exceed the limits of what you can actually afford, there could be measurable repercussions down the line.
“You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Giving often comes with a sense of benevolent satisfaction; we are just happy to be of use… of service to others. Many of us are taught to share at an early age, and as we grow that idea evolves from sharing personal trinkets to actually sharing ourselves. While sharing and giving is noble in all of it’s gilded glory, the inability to strike balance with just how much to give, might do both the giver and receiver more harm than good.
The best way to determine whether you’re giving too much of yourself begins with identifying those who receive your time and energy.
The Energy Vampire approaches you with a problem (often with flattery and the assurance that you are the only one who can help). It might be closer to the truth that you are simply a vessel of convenience, but that’s beside the point. This person will present you with the dilemma that you might attempt to solve or advise… but eventually find yourself in a circular conversation with no real conclusion in sight. That’s because the point of the entire exchange wasn’t to seek help or glean knowledge; rather is was meant to siphon your efforts and energy in some form of validation for said problem. The Energy Vampire only seeks to take. Please note that a particularly malignant personality, if you attempt to ignore or distance yourself, might ‘bait’ you into reactions simply for the sake of exchange. Energy is energy to the vampire. Negative or positive… it makes no difference.
The Information Pimp sees you as a means to an end. This person is interested in furthering a personal or professional agenda, without much consideration of what it will cost you. Consider the person who is always ‘curious’ about things that are really (really) none of their business, dismissive about the intrusion, and accusatory about your hesitation to share. Often an information pimp will lecture you about the dangers of secrets and declare themselves an open book (while not really sharing much). Information pimps can be ambitious, both personally and professionally. Once the layers are stripped away, it comes down to the simple truth that they want what you have, and are unwilling to the work (or pay the money) themselves to get it.
The Hard Luck Case always needs help. Always. The phone rings at odd hours, and there’s always something. It’s always someone or some thing else’s fault. Life has given them a raw deal, and it just happens to them through no fault of their own. They have plans and schemes and grand ideas… but they rarely follow through on much of anything. They are intelligent and capable, but somehow life just always gets in the way. Every exchange is rife with complaints and declarations about the unfairness of things. And no matter how much time, energy and money you throw at their problems, those problems adapt, mutate and persist.
These are sweeping generalizations of personality ticks and disorders that you might recognize someone else… or even yourself. If the latter is true, know that you can be your own worst enemy, and are doing your spirit just as great a disservice. It takes courage to disconnect from people and things that wear on or diminish your spirit, even if internally that person is you. If you find that you are your own worst enemy, have courage to face yourself, and the determination to balance it out. It is perfectly okay to look in the mirror and not like what is looking back at you. The more you are honest about how you deplete (and replenish) your spirit, the more likely you are to actually protect it.