This past week has been a lesson in Self Centering for me. Sometimes the lines between being “of service” and being expected to do something can look similar on the outside, yet they are very different energies on an inner level. When does helping turn into a disservice to others?
My big clues were that I was beginning to feel resentful and angry towards some people in my life circles, I’m usually a down to earth, level headed kind of gal, I have an easy going nature, and generally have a positive outlook on life. When bitterness creeps in I know something is very unbalanced and I need to take a good look at where the roots of these feelings originate. It’s not a pleasant or easy process to dig through the stuff, fortunately I am blessed to have a counsellor who is not connected to my life in any other way, and she provides a non partisan view that helps me out a lot.
Exploring the layers of emotion I realised that a pattern had formed, and that there were two parties involved, my conflicted self and the persons related to the issues. For an event to recur all the participants need to agree on some level to keep it going, the scenery and the players may change yet the general theme becomes persistent, it may play out in a hundred versions until you notice what’s happening. For me, the production goes like this. Someone asks for my assistance, I like to be helpful so provide the help, the first time I don’t expect compensation because it’s time freely given. The person asks if I can lend a hand again and promises to pay when some money comes in, I oblige because I think everyone deserves a break. The same individual requests me to help out again, often has not compensated me for my time and effort and continues to promise to pay at a later date, I say okay. This continues on, the help becomes expected or the person feels entitled to it, I have conditioned myself to keep repeating and the other person to have expectations.
I acknowledge this awareness is part of my personal growth and it can be tricky to really see what is happening, blaming others doesn’t work, what am I doing that contributes to the cycle? I got to thinking how the Goddess is the Mother of all, and how her law is love; the only thing she asks is for me to embrace what is best for my life, and to work towards creating the life I desire. So what is best for me?
Allowing people to take advantage because I feel empathy is in no way respecting me, it actually devalues my worth. My first step was to look at the areas of my life that were generating these feelings. One continual annoyance is around transportation issues, I don’t mind offering a ride depending on the circumstances; however it has morphed into an exercise in frustration on some levels. There are people who are regular passengers, in some cases for over three years, they promise payment whenever some money comes in. In time I do receive some money and am thankful, however the amount paid and the true cost of providing rides has no relationship and I am the one who absorbs the expenses. I decided to take my power back and stop this cycle by changing my behaviour, so I informed my regulars no gas money, no ride. As you can imagine, I sure got some waves of resistance, everything from guilt trips, I was being unfair, I was preventing participation in events, it’s my job as a priestess, you are punishing me, its not my fault I am broke, you are driving there anyhow…yada, yada.
I did feel guilty and unhappy at first, and wondered if I was being unnecessarily cruel towards these folks; the incoming responses really enforced that. When I felt really vulnerable to caving in, I let myself feel the emotions and recited the Charge of the Goddess, especially the part about “keep strong your highest ideal and strive ever towards it, let naught stop you nor turn you aside” it gave me courage and strength. I was able to close my eyes and meditate and I found what I needed within.
I understand it is not my responsibility to keep bailing people out, in fact by continually helping all I am doing is providing a band-aid; my actions keep the cycle repeating, and the resulting feelings of resentment at the expectations do have powerful potential to damage some friendships. I also know each person needs to learn how to manage their own resources whether financial or not. It’s also clear it’s all about choices, with taking the action of buying a product or participating in an event I am agreeing to the consequences of that act, even if it means peanut butter sandwiches are my staple food for a while. If I know something like full moon ritual occurs every month, and that I need gas money, and it’s important for me to attend, what is my priority? What do I prefer, those takeout coffees or going to ritual? We all need to choose what is important to us personally.
You probably have heard the saying “The Universe Provides”, yes it does! However, if the Universe continually provides through the generosity and at the expense of other people, the scales are not in balance for the giver or the receiver. The out breath and in breath are both important to the continual flow of life, one cannot exist without the other, and so it is with all things. It’s good to take a look at your life and see what is working and what isn’t, and by honouring yourself you also honour the Gods.
May you all have a Blessed Beltane!