Can you bake 300 donuts for my wedding at cost? Is it possible for you to work on this project over the weekend? Can you watch my dog again?”
We’ve all experienced the feeling of dread when someone asks a favor we don’t want to help with. Furthermore, we’ve all said “yes” when we didn’t want to.
When too many of these types of favors sit in-between us and a specific person, job or volunteer opportunity- we eventually become resentful.
Yet, our culture continues to applaud the self-less giving.
Look at Liz-she is such a selfless person. She volunteers to chair every single PTA event. Her kids are so lucky.
Amy never expects anything in return for her kindness. She would drop anything just to help She always says ‘yes’ when everyone else says ‘no.’
Why is our culture so obsessed with glamorizing people who ask for absolutely nothing in return for their efforts and is that even normal?
I would argue it’s not.
The number one reason your approach to boundaries is all wrong…
Because you are giving from a place of self-lessness and it is sucking the life out of you. All giving is a tad selfish.
I know, you don’t want to admit it, but you know it’s true.
While you certainly volunteer for every PTA event at school for your kids, would you continue to give if no one ever said “thank you” for your efforts?
What if your sister asked you to watch her dog for the third time in a month and then was too busy to babysit your cat during your last-minute weekend getaway?
Every form of giving requires some type of acknowledgement or a return on that investment. While many of us want to believe our giving is purely altruistic, most of the time it’s not.
So how do you transition out of this mindset that giving must be purely selfless? How do we make sure that resentment doesn’t creep into our giving efforts?
Here are some things that helped me:
1. Accept that giving can never purely be selfless and it shouldn’t be: Stop feeling shame for expecting something in return when you give to others. Even if it’s just the acknowledgement of your time-you’re human just like all of us. Expecting to give purely from an altruistic place is setting you up for failure. This is why you give from a place of depletion, because you feel shameful that you aren’t being selfless. You must let go of this unrealistic expectation. Once you do, you’ll be free to give with reasonable expectations. It will also keep you out of resentment.
2. If you’re struggling with saying “no”, find a way you can say “yes”: The transition into this mindset is hard. If you’re having a difficult time saying “no” and guilt creeps in, identify what you can say “yes” to. For instance, if your friend needs help moving over the weekend, but you’ve had a hell of week at work and need down time, politely pass. Then, offer to order the whole moving crew pizza.
3. Stop complimenting people for being selfless: Seriously, stop it. Instead of saying someone is self-less, compliment specific behaviors instead. For example, “It’s so incredible that Susie pulled off this incredible volunteer event. Look at all the details she paid attention to that created an awesome experience for everyone.” Oh, don’t forget to compliment people for having boundaries too.
Selfishly giving since 1982,