Little effort…

Yesterday someone came to help me to take the bed apart that was in the bedroom of my new house. Even though I didn’t know the guy who came to help (he’s a friend of the owner of the bed), we worked together as a good team. I let him take the lead, tell me what to do and assisted where and how I could, which worked out really well.

This morning I realised this is one of my strengths, but also my weaknesses: I’m good at adjusting to any situation, offering help and support, while staying in the background and don’t ask too much attention for myself. Looking back I can see how this has evolved over the years.

It probably started when I was not liked that much by my classmates in primary school. Staying in the background and not drawing attention to me helped with not getting bullied as much. Later learning at home to help out even when I didn’t feel like it, being told “little effort, lots of joy” (“kleine moeite, groot plezier”) – it’s not that much effort for you, but it brings a lot of joy to another – certainly helped in enhancing the behaviour of putting someone else’s needs before mine. And when I started working in hospitality (as a waitress/hostess) it became even more enhanced, as “client is king”. Here I started to enjoy staying kind and helpful to even the rudest clients, so they would go home with a good feeling. And I would feel good as I did what I was supposed to do in my job, bringing hospitality into practice, even into the smallest details and to the rudest clients.

Still I love taking care of others, I love helping out, I love supporting and assisting where I can. Not only in my work (now supporting in the background of communication and of course helping and supporting through my healings, coaching, meditations and retreats), but also in all of my other relations. I’ve realised now that this strength becomes a weakness when I’m overdoing it, and I haven’t found the right balance yet.

Looking back at my recently ended love relationship, I can clearly see how I went into this role of giving, helping and supporting and placing myself in the background. And ending up losing myself. It’s not that my boyfriend expected me to do that, or even asked it from me, I did it without realising it all too much, until I felt out of balance, empty, tired from giving so much. I tried to ask for help (which I admit I’m not really good at) and tried to change it, but the balance was lost.

The thing was (and still is), now if I DON’T do something I know I can do to help or support someone else, I feel bad about it, maybe even guilty. As “little effort, lots of joy” – I could just do it, not a big deal for me, I know it will help the other and helping the other makes me happy as well. So adjusting this part in our relationship on my own didn’t really work. It looks like I’ve lost the balance somewhere along the way and it’s very difficult to really feel when I’m over-giving, because I love giving and helping so much, I truly do! So where is the balance? When do I say ‘yes’, when do I say ‘no’? Where and when do I offer my help? Or how long do I wait with asking someone (as I know it might be easier for them if I wait a little longer) to help me?

With a lot of things I don’t really mind if it goes one way or another, so I can always easily adjust to the other person. I’m happy to help, to make the other person feel good. But of course often I have a (slight) preference. So now I’m learning to become aware of the preference and to voice it, even to acknowledge it to myself is already a huge step! I’m becoming aware that I actually do have a preference and then I’m finding out how to express that to others. It’s an interesting journey!

I’m really curious to hear if you have a similar experience and how you are handling it! We can always learn from each other. Thanks!

PS: in the picture my new bed, which I put together all by myself, as of course I didn’t ask for help… Learning in progress!