Sunday, February 3, 2013

Don't Over Serve

What does it mean to "over serve" those around you? I've had issues with "over serving" my whole life. Perhaps it stems from my abusive stepfather who taught me that I needed to overcompensate for my worthlessness. I was taught from a very early age that in order to gain love and acceptance, that I needed to work extra hard. Just being who I am is not enough was the message I internalized. I had to do more than what was asked of me, and I wasn't allowed to notice the unfairness of it all.

Generosity is a good thing, when it is balanced. Too much generosity is a sign of an unbalanced sense of self worth. Mother Teresa is a noble woman, but living her life is not everyone's calling. Some people give everything away, and fail to keep enough for themselves. This is not a healthy lifestyle. In fact, when you give too much away, it leaves too little for yourself, and can cause you to fail in other areas because of your inability to set limits on what you give.

Low Self Worth
Inability to Set Boundaries

Not only is one who overcompensates unable to set boundaries, but may also have difficulty knowing WHERE to set the boundary. In my case, I was abused as a child and my feelings, my person, my identity was not respected, therefore it can be difficult for me to determine where the boundary should be erected. It is only when it is too late and I'm overwhelmed and experiencing the consequences of over-serving, do I recognize the dysfunction. Once I recognize it, I often have to take drastic measures to solve the problem. It is easier to track your progress along the way.

I've always been good at going the extra mile, because as a child I was taught that I was unworthy and that I had to work to earn love. We all know that going the extra mile is good, especially when it comes to your career. However, there have been times in my life when I didn't just run an extra mile, I did an extra triathlon and asked if that was okay.

Consequences of Overserving
  1. You come up short on important resources in other areas of your life.
  2. You are sending a message to yourself that you are not enough as you are.
  3. and everyone else that your worth-less than you are.
  4. You are not appreciated.
  5. You are disrespected.
  6. People take advantage of you.
  7. You have to take drastic steps to remedy the situation, which can create rifts in relationships.
  8. You do everything less effectively.
  9. You are susceptible to being overrun by others who wish to rob you of your time, energy and attention.
  10.  You can lose track of your goals. 
Why People Over Serve

Why do people over serve others? Why do they give more than required, requested or expected? Remember, I'm not just talking about "going above-and-beyond the call of duty," which is noble and beneficial to your life if you want to be successful. I'm talking going way beyond necessity, and then STILL not feeling as though you've done enough. My observation is that people over serve because they feel fundamentally worthless. They feel shame for who they are, and instead of dealing with the problem internally, they work out there worthiness externally through the process of repetition compulsion.

Something inside their subconscious says, "if I can just do this enough, maybe they will approve of me and I will finally be enough." This causes one to do, do, do and do until they can't do any more.

Oftentimes, people who over serve justify their behavior with idioms and injunctions

Over serving is another example of the way a person who feels unworthy tries to compensate, or reconcile the "worth while" account.  The reason that it's dangerous is that it's hard to detect, because it is hidden in the virtues of generosity and hard work. Let's face it, there is a limit to the energy you need to exert in order to do a good job. You are not required to give every ounce of breath in order to do a good job. In fact, this is dangerous to your soul. You must ALWAYS, in relationship to people, places and things, save some of you back for you. Never give it all. Even when you hear the idiom, "Give it your all," don't take it literally. If you don't keep some of you back for you, then you will run completely out-of-gas. You are no good to anyone--including yourself--if you are theoretically stranded on t he side of the road, unable to go any further. Always keep reserve fuel for yourself.

Over serving is an injunction in your heart that says, "everyone is more valuable than me."
  • I am not as valuable as others, so I must give more.
  • What I do is never enough, so I must give until I have not one drop left.
  • What I do is never good enough. 
  • I'm afraid that I will lose something in my life if I set limits. 
 The psychological defenses to low self esteem, and a sense of low self worth is FEAR. This fear, as it is without analysis and without dissection, is wrapped up in FEAR OF DEATH or ANNIHILATION. It's true! The underlying driver of over serving is fear that you will die if you don't give enough.

The truth is, you WON'T die if you set limits.

No one will hate you .

What If You Set Limits?

One thing to help you understand the importance of setting limits in your own life, and to determine the reasons why you fail to set adequate limits, is to do the "worst case scenario thought string." In this case, I'm thinking about what my true underlying fears are for failing to set limits.
  •  If I set limits on what I do, that person will not like me.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may lose my job.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may lose the client.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may go out of business.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may go broke.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may starve.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may be desperate.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may end up homeless.
  • If I set limits on what I do, I may die. 

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