Here at The Little Shaman, we are fond of saying “Life is love.” Well, we’re more than fond of saying it; we believe it is the absolute truth and the sole reason for existence. We believe love is the axis upon which the world turns. That means loving yourself, too, though. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help others and with putting their needs before your own but if that is something you find yourself doing all the time – especially if you are getting nothing in return, it might be time to put your foot down and love yourself a little.
So how nice is too nice? Let’s say that you are in the middle of something pretty important. Your friend calls and she needs you to help her. It’s not an emergency or anything, she just needs your help with something. What would you do? Would you tell her that you’d love to help her and you will, as soon as you’re done? Or would you simply abandon what you are doing without ever even mentioning it to help her? If you picked the second choice, you are too nice. If it is not a dire emergency, your friend can wait while you take care of what you need to take care of in your own life. If she does not understand this or gets angry, maybe she isn’t that good of a friend. A real friend cares just as much about your life and problems as you care about theirs, and they would not want you to abandon something important to help them with something that can wait.
Another example could be if you find yourself always available for a friend or family member who is not available for you. You’ve moved their furniture, you’ve babysat their children, you’ve given them rides, you’ve kept their cat while they went on vacation but somehow, they are always doing something else when you need them to come through for you. Now there are situations where people genuinely are too busy to help, but if it happens every single time, it might be time to ask yourself if this person values you as much as you value them.
People can get into the habit of depending on someone who is always there for them and that is a great thing; it’s wonderful to know who you can always rely on. But if it is not given by both parties equally, it’s taking advantage and that is not true friendship. That is not how family works. That is not how love works. Anything that makes someone feel resentful, unappreciated, marginalized or used is not love.
It’s important then, to ask yourself why you would allow yourself to be taken for granted, if you find that you are. Does it make you feel good to help? Do you fear the other person/people will not like you if you don’t? Are you afraid to say no? Will you feel guilty? Instead of focusing on their reason, focus on yours. Their reason is their problem. It’s their lesson and their journey. People treat us how we allow them to treat us, so focus on why you are allowing it. This is the lesson you are meant to be taught, and it is important to figure it out.
If you find such a person in your life, it’s up to you to decide how to deal with it. We all have to walk our own paths in life. However, if the situation is not addressed, it is unlikely to change and if you find yourself angry, resentful or sad over the situation, that’s a pretty bad thing. Many times the person taking advantage does not even realize they are doing it, so they are not likely to stop if you never say anything. It is important to remember that you don’t have to allow anyone into your life who you don’t feel respects or appreciates you and there is no reason to feel guilty for this. Ever. Remember too, that love is all-encompassing; that includes you! You’ve got to love yourself as much you love your friends and family, because we are all one. We are all part of the great tapestry that is life. You are in other people’s lives to teach them, as they are here to teach you. Remember that it is not love to simply give somebody everything they want. It’s enabling. Love is strong as well as soft.
Sometimes the greatest gift you can give somebody is to point out where they are going wrong. This includes yourself.