Are you an over-giving, emotional *hit collector?!
Updated: Aug 9, 2018
By Liana Allison
WOW… That is a interesting start to a blog article, but let me explain.
There are two sorts of ‘givers’ in this world and unfortunately, I see a lot of women falling into the disempowered sort. They are well intentioned and highly empathetic but they end up giving themselves away, their physical and emotional energy, their time, their resources, just to name a few.
They give it away to their families, their kids, their partners, their friends, their colleagues and their clients. They are empathy and giving on tap.
And they're wrecked.
So, hang on! Isn't being empathetic and giving a good thing?!
Well, no, not always. Not when the scales are tipped firmly in everybody else's favour. In that place, being empathetic and giving can become very, very draining. And eventually, honestly, unsustainable.
I ask the many highly capable and lovely women I coach, what do they get back for all this effort and care they put out? Quite often, they tell me they don't get a lot of genuine reciprocity, especially when they really need it. In fact many get treated pretty badly… hence the title of ‘over-giving, emotional *hit collectors’.
Many women I talk to therefore end up feeling burned out, physically and emotionally, resentful, depressed, anxious, stressed and never enough. They have trouble putting themselves first or prioritising their goals, what with everybody else's needs to attend to, and wonder why they never seem to be able to create the life and receive the love and care they really want.
Women have been taught that bottomless empathy and giving is a good thing
Now, don’t take this the wrong way… it's no criticism of women.
And if this is striking any sort of personal cord, it’s not your fault…. this is what many women in our culture have been taught - that their value is measured by how much they are needed by others and that their empathy and giving is a way for them to demonstrate their love or care for others.
It's a nice thing to do. And women have been taught to be nice. And supportive.
But all this over-giving and collecting of everybody else's emotional garbage doesn’t actually support women in being their best selves and empowering their own life dreams.
Do you ever want to yell, "What about me?!" "When is it my turn?" "Why do I always end up having to do this?" Well then sister, this is for you.
How does this empathy imbalance happen?
Being empathetic is when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes on an emotional and mental level. You see them in pain and you want to help save them from feeling that pain, anger and sadness, and anything else that you judge to be unwanted or unpleasant.
On the upside, in terms of relatedness to others, being empathetic can show compassion and build emotional bonds.
And yet, when you take on other people’s uncomfortable emotions, not only do they feel bad, you start to feel bad with them! So you are then likely to want to fix people or situations to make the uncomfortable feelings go away that you feel on their behalf. As quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, as much as it seems to be the loving thing to do, it can actually extend their pain and add to yours.
Because on the downside, misplaced empathy can enable behaviour or situations that the other person needs to take responsibility for and therefore impede the other person’s growth if you try to fix it. So it can be a disempowered and unconscious way for you to respond to the emotions of others.
Sometimes, we need to be our idea of 'cruel' to truly be kind.
And so sometimes we actually really need to look at why we might do this…why would we put the needs of another ahead of our own? Is it because we need to feel needed, more than we actually respect our own boundaries and wellbeing? Are we avoiding conflict? Are we resisting the personal discomfort of allowing another to learn their own lessons? Are we simply programmed to be nice?
Believe it or not, there's another way
You can learn to show compassion for somebody else's challenges from a more objective and empowered place that considers both your needs and their best interests, rather than simply falling into feeling bad for them and trying to fix it. You learn to respond, rather than react to their distress.
From this place, you can learn to speak up diplomatically about your real feelings and thoughts, you can say no, or yes, when you need to. You can learn how to no longer fall into feeling obligated, stressed, guilty, angry or resentful about caring for others.
Changing these patterns is an ongoing journey and I call it Emotional Mastery. It's about mastering your emotions when they are triggered by the emotions of others. And when you do, vastly different options open up in your life in relationships with others and the life choices you can make to better serve YOU.
Emotional Mastery sets you free from your old patterns AND it sets your loved ones free to experience their own journey of life learnings, so they too can become more empowered. This requires self-responsibility…emotionally, mentally and physically. It's the basis of true personal growth.
A new choice is yours
There is nothing wrong with supporting people. We all do it, especially women, it’s in our nature. The problem is when we sacrifice our own wellbeing to prop up others. This leads to illness, burnout, mental health issues and overwhelm, just to name a few.
So take charge of your journey to empowerment and self realisation by starting to slow down and notice your reactions to others, your auto-pilot mode of responding. Start to ask yourself if this really serves you and serves them.
And if you're ready for some real breakthroughs, I invite you to join me on the path to Emotional Mastery…..it’s worth it.
About this contributor
Liana Allison is a successful business woman, volunteer fire fighter and the founder of The Institute of Empathic Leadership. She's an international award-winning Empathic Leadership Coach, Spiritual Healer, Intuitive and an Empowered Empath.
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