Healthy Giving or Co-Dependency

December 29, 2012

Being that I am in a helping profession, many of you won’t be too surprised to learn that I tend to be a giving kind of person. Yep, the ol’ caretaker is alive and well in me. Like about a third to one half of the population, I have tendencies like wanting to be sure everything and everyone is taken care of (this attributes to an never-ending to-do list), that things are managed perfectly and according to how I think they should be done (even if I have to do it all myself), and that I can offer assistance to anyone in need (whether they ask for it or not).

Being ‘a giver’ offers its pros and cons. I would think the pros are fairly obvious… tending to those in need, and taking care of business. The world needs folks like us, as we make good doctors, nurses, firemen, paramedics, therapists, massage therapists, veterinarians, volunteers… and, yes, even hypnotherapists.

The cons are the ones that need to be managed and that those of you, like me, need to diligently stay on-top-of. Can one give too much? The answer is a big, emphatic YES! Have you ever heard of co-dependency? Here are some examples of a person in an unhealthy state of giving: A person whose happiness and mood is dependent on what others are doing or not doing; who takes on more than they can physically, mentally or emotionally handle because they believe no one else can do it or do it ‘right;’ who insistently offers and gives help to another because they believe they need it, even when the help was never requested.

Can we give too much and fall into co-dependency at the holidays?

Yes, again. Take a look at these examples and see if you got caught in any of them this Christmas season: Has your happiness and mood fluctuated depending on what you expected relatives to do/not do for the holidays? Have you taken on more than you can physically, mentally or emotionally handle… with cooking, hosting, buying gifts, or volunteering? Do you believe that you have to be the one cooking, hosting, buying gifts, or volunteering or else it won’t get done or done ‘right?’ Do you worry about those you perceive to be ‘in need’ even if they never said they had a problem or asked for help? If you can relate to one or all of these… it may be time to take a step back and shift into self-care.
Purposefully putting more emphasis on yourself and your own needs is a great way to counteract the slippery slope of co-dependency. This will allow you to re-evaluate your motives and to come back into your giving tendencies from a much healthier state of mind and being.

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