"It is possible to use all of our traits as strengths, if we are mindful of them and purposeful in their use." ~ Angela Marchesani
I came across this article today and thought how incredibly relevant it is to my own life. As I reflect on things that I want to improve in the coming year and ways in which I need to focus attention on maintaining my own health and wellbeing, I am all the more mindful of how often my own life is negatively impacted by giving too much of myself to others.
I like to think that having a caring nature and having the desire to help others is a positive thing. However, many times in my own life this same strength has nearly destroyed me as I have been used, abused, emotionally drained, and overwhelemed by the needs of those whom I am helping. At the end of the day sometimes I wonder why it is that I help all these people, but then no one reaches out to help me? It feels out of balance sometimes and then I start to withdraw and avoid those people whom my heart is actually telling me to reach out to. It's almost a "self-preservation" response. In an atempt to protect my own heart from hurt, I avoid the situation all together. Or I develop a certain sense of resentment when I have given so much to someone who offers nothing in return. The article above really brought this to light as I could completely relate to the author and understand how her strength had also become a weakness at times.
In the article, Angela uses an analogy of our life being like a play where we possess many characters who are created for different roles. Everyone has a character who takes the lead role (mine is caring), but they also have other characters that would like to share in the limelight. (Have a read of the article, it really is worth the time). After having read this article I realise that I need to take a really close look at my life and acknowledge the different "characters" which I have. I need to call on those characters in times when I feel that my strength of caring is weakening. It may be that in calling on those hidden characters that I find a new "lead" who is perfect for the role at hand.
Instead of walking away or avoiding situations in which my caring nature gets overused and burned out, I need to call on my other characters to step up to centre stage and take a turn. This will allow for me to maintain my personal values without having such a negative effect on my own life. (Turning away from someone in need does NOT line up with my personal values, and at times I have thought this was my only option in order to preserve my own sanity. I was not at peace with the response, but I thought it was the only way.) I am grateful to have been challenged to think in a different way now.
As I enter into 2013, I want to enter with a fresh mindest and be ready to call on all of my characters to play a part in my life. I do not want my strength to be my weakness. I want to acknowledge that there is more within me that can work towards maintaining my personal values and it doesn't have to be a job for only one character.
If you feel, at times, out of balance or feel that your strengths sometimes weigh you down, I encourage you to take time to reflect on your personal values and on ALL the character traits which you possess that may help you achieve and maintain those values within your life. Make 2013 the best year of your life!!!