Since it will never be enough, there comes a point in the day, hour, month, year, moment, or whenever, when you just have to say, “all done,” and walk away.
This means that if your child is needing another story read, your boss needs another something or other, your loved ones--be they family, friends or honey pies--need just another phone call, five dollars, meal, or back rub, you can give them as much as you can and then you can, you must, stop.
Because the truth is that it honestly never will be enough. When we fail to make our own boundaries, we will become burnt out to the point of absolute exhaustion and end up not being there for ourselves or really, for anyone else after awhile.
Women who give too much, love too much, and try and please others too much are the subjects of thousands of articles and essays, books and research. Yet we still find ourselves putting out more effort, energy and love than we can ever hope to redeem; and that’s okay – we don’t always put it out there to have it come back.
What is toxic, though, is getting taken advantage of or even abused due to the generosity of spirit which compels us to give in the first place.
Being strong, loving, giving, generous, kind, loyal, helpful and brave are important and incredible character traits. But we also must be adult, mature, realistic, grounded, healthy and whole, so that we have something left to give, so that we are actually living some of our lives and not just giving every precious moment of it away.
I would assert, too, that if you often find yourself falling into the trap of having to compulsively give wherever you may find a need, there may be something more to it than a simple generosity of spirit. Perhaps you get your self esteem from feeling needed or wanted? Maybe complaining all the time about how much you have to do makes you feel you are productive? Maybe you are afraid of what there may be in store for you if you’re not giving to others all the time?
These are important questions to think about if you’ve come to a crossroads and decided that maybe you want to create some good, strong, solid boundaries in your life. Asking yourself what you may get out of giving when you know giving everything may never be enough is a great first step in figuring out how much you really can give and how much you may want to begin pulling back.
Aimee Boyle lives and writes in CT. She is a regular contributor to EmpowHER.