By Marc Hardy, Ph.D.
Sacrificing our own emotional, mental, spiritual, physical and financial health is counter-productive to helping others and does not make the world a better place. Let me reiterate upfront that I believe in paying forward to others the good that we have been given. In fact, I think helping others is what gives meaning to our lives. But I don’t believe it should be taken to the point of destroying our lives. Sacrificing our own emotional, mental, spiritual, physical and financial health is counter-productive to helping others and does not make the world a better place. The profound truth that we need to embrace is that, if we deplete ourselves, we cannot give to others what we no longer have. We need to constantly remind ourselves of this, because we givers are often not good at giving to ourselves. If we want to sustain a life of sharing our fire with others and leaving our mark on the world, we need to heed the following advice:
Don’t let your ego drive you to an early death.
If you are reading this, you are probably a person I consider a “philanthropic pyromaniac” – you share your fire with anyone in need, often to the detriment of your own well-being. A big part of this is wanting to do good, but another part, one that is more ego-driven than it is altruistic, is that we want to be loved, revered and respected for our efforts. We want people to appreciate what we have done and acknowledge it once in a while. It’s not that we want the spotlight, it’s just that we don’t want to be taken for granted. Yet we often give to those who least appreciate or acknowledge our help, which causes us to give even more to them in the hopes it might be enough to garner a “thank you.” Eventually, we become exhausted from our efforts, feel that we have failed in some way to help them. We burn out and become bitter against them and most of mankind. Worst of all, the experience negatively affects all aspects of our health. So learn to spot the “life suckers” and avoid them like the plague.
Next Time: The Second of Five Reasons: Why you should Share your fire only with those who want to be ignited.