Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

Snuggled down under covers while white stuff wafts down and sleet taps on my roof. Wind gusts awakened me at 3:33 this morning and blessedly, I was able to go back to sleep and immerse in dreams. I rolled over again at 8:15, grateful that my home is also my office and that I need not go anywhere. Some in my life are not so lucky, as they needed to dig themselves out to drive to their jobs.

As I was perusing Facebook, I saw a post from a friend whose husband was in that position. His current employer is my former employer. I had worked at a hospital a dozen years in my role as a social worker. On one occasion, a blizzard was brewing and the supervisor sent home all ‘non essential’ staff. Social workers were in that group. For the first time in my life, I was glad to be dispensable, at least for the time being. I bundled up and headed for my car to trek home, with a smile on my face, as I looked forward to hunkering down in my own environs, instead of in the confines of the four walls with the locked doors.

When I think of what it means to be essential, I realize that it can become a trap. Is there anyone who doesn’t like being needed and valued? When we hear from another that we have made a difference in there lives, it certainly feels good. The double edged sword of that role, is that they may come to rely on us to the exclusion of self reliance. Being on call 24/7 can be arduous, especially if you have stated an open door policy. People will take you up on your invitation. Setting boundaries is important as you decide what you can do for them what you can do with them and what you can encourage them to do for themselves Sometimes the greatest service is encouraging independence.

The other hazard of wanting to be essential, is that it can become an ego trap and a method of commerce. If someone becomes dependent on the time, love and attention that we deliver, we might feel as if they ought to return it to us in kind. The truth is, they may not want to, or have the ability to, even if  they had the willingness to do so. How to handle that dynamic?

* Ask yourself if you are willing yourself to offer those people genuine service without expectation of return, knowing that they might be able to reciprocate to the best of their ability.

* Consider if the return of investment of your time and energy is indeed worth it.

* Immerse yourself in activities that nourish you.

* Be with people who give to you while you graciously receive.

* Consider why you are giving. Is it to feed the desire to be indispensable?

* What if the people in your life wanted you but didn’t always need you? (That one causes me to flinch) Could you trust that they would still want you around?

Give to yourself as you give to others. Love is an essential nutrient. Sprinkle it on everything in your life.

 

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