Give of yourself. Give so much and so often that you’re not sure you can give anymore and then find another way to give. You find yourself when you give of yourself.
There is a point, a line, between giving so much of yourself that you are tired physically and emotionally but in a good way and giving yourself away to the point where you become a slave of giving and lose the will or desire to give. I know this because I have felt both sides of this line.
A few years ago, I became addicted to helping people. Literally addicted. I hardly ate or slept because I needed to make sure I was there in case someone needed something. My grades dropped as I could not study adequately for classes and often arrived late to class or missed it altogether because of what I was doing to myself. My health suffered because I cared so little about myself that I only found worth in helping others. I convinced myself that helping people was a good thing so it didn’t matter that I wasn’t taking care of myself.
The truth is that I wasn’t just giving of myself, I was giving myself away. What is the difference? When you give of yourself, you give your time, your love, your presence. You give because you are so happy that you can’t keep it to yourself. When you give yourself away, you give the same things but out of duty or need. Giving wears you down over time because you do it less out of love and more for love. You give to find purpose instead of out of purpose.
I’m not sure how I got out of that cycle. I am sure it took time and probably feeling somewhat selfish. I’m also not sure how I got to the point where I could give of myself fully and completely without giving myself away.
I believe in giving. I believe in getting lost in service. But I also believe in finding yourself by losing yourself in service. The key is not simply to give, but to give to yourself. When you give to others, you must also give to yourself. You must give yourself compliments for doing good. You must appreciate yourself for the good you do. There may still be days of feeling inadequate or tired of doing so much, but the days of feeling happy to serve and grateful for the good you do outweigh the negative thoughts you may have in your head.
Do good. Give of yourself. Give to yourself. And lose yourself in service to the point where you find yourself.