The distinction between self sacrifice and true service

The distinction between self sacrifice and true service

Do you have a history of ‘helper syndrome’? I am using this term to replace more graphic but less palatable terms, like sacrificial lamb, martyr, saint or rescuer.

As I see it, the roots of this syndrome are a mixture of nature and nurture.

Some of us learned to get praise, attention and feelings of significance through being helpful and useful in environments where saying no carried negative consequences that we feared.

Fast forward to adult life and we discover that we are no longer rewarded with gold stars.

Instead, ‘Helper Syndrome’ leads to:

  • Being used by others, causing the sufferer to feel valued for the wrong things, misunderstood and underappreciated.
  • Experiences of invalidation from others, if they wanted attention or approval but, not advice or solutions.
  • Frustration, overload, overwhelm and even burnout
  • Lack of clarity about who and what we are designed to serve

 

At some point in my journey as a chronic sufferer, I began to appreciate the fine difference between self-sacrifice and service. Apparently, due my Pisces sun (the self sacrificing part) and my Virgo ascendant (the service part), I’m wired to learn the difference, including the shadow and the light of such qualities.

While there is a time and a place for self sacrifice in the transformative crucible of spiritual practice, success in the so-called real world requires us to be clear with our boundaries and personal limitations. This puts us in the realm of service.

Self-sacrifice is a problem in the real world, other than in special circumstances, such as emergencies or after giving birth to a baby. However, in those special circumstances we are given the resources we need through raised hormone levels, irrespective of nature and nurture considerations.

The transformation of self-sacrifice to service requires self-awareness, including conscious direction of energies through committing only to whom and to what we feel genuinely called, and designed, to serve.

Over the last couple of years, I have gained enormous clarity around who and what I am best suited to serve, as a result of my journey with a process called Tribal Marketing.

But, just a few years ago, I was beyond confused about what I should be offering – and to whom. I trained as an Independent Funeral and Wedding Celebrant, planning to leave the coaching and training worlds altogether.

I liked the work but knew that it needed to be a ‘side’ rather than the ‘main’ of my offering. I returned to coaching and transformed my business.

Are you as stuck as I was a few years ago?  Click here to learn more about True Significance and Tribal Marketing.

Personal ‘eclipses’ help you to stay on purpose

Personal ‘eclipses’ help you to stay on purpose

The American eclipse was big news last month.  My topic this month is what it means to experience a personal eclipse. 

A personal eclipse is a sudden change of direction, perhaps seemingly forced upon us or perhaps following an inner change of heart. The path we were on ‘gets eclipsed’ as a result.

In my experience, this feeling of something being eclipsed, while disorienting, is usually an indication that something in life needs to be reconsidered.

What you may not know about me is that 3 years ago I trained to be a wedding and funeral celebrant.

By chance, the first 2 funerals I conducted were for people of my own age. Thankfully, also by chance, so was the first wedding!

Of course, this made me think about my own life and what was important to me. And I realised, that while I enjoyed being a Celebrant and being of service to others in marking a rite of passage, I did not want to make such work into a full time occupation. It didn’t give me the same feeling of being ‘on purpose’ that I was lucky to experience when working as a coach and consultant earlier in my career.

I realised that I was making choices based on what made sense, given age and skills set. But, my deepest interests were hidden under limiting beliefs, such as ‘I’m too old’ or ‘it’s too late’ or ‘I haven’t got the resources’ for that type of business offering again.

Limiting thoughts and feelings are much easier to address once acknowledged. Since I’ve retrained as an Awakening Coach, and shifted the personal obstacles in the process, I feel ‘on purpose’ again.

For most people that feeling of being ‘on purpose’ makes a huge difference and is needed at every age and life stage.

If you have been experiencing a personal eclipse (which may be associated with the celestial one) ask yourself what might be needed for you to feel on purpose. And if you are in the middle of a life transition, as I was, it’s ok to consider a few options. But, please look carefully at your limiting points of view before deciding to believe them!

The art of engaging with ‘dark nights of the soul’

The art of engaging with ‘dark nights of the soul’

As we emerge from the ‘dark season’ in the northern hemisphere, I’ve been contemplating ‘dark nights of the soul’ in general and my own experiences in particular.

Around the time of the lunar eclipse on 11 February, I thought I might be heading into one. A sudden loss of direction was accompanied by an unwelcome sense of futility. A void beckoned… I wanted to disappear and do nothing.

The desire to disappear was accompanied by fantasies of tropical beaches. With fantasies like this we must ask ourselves whether the tropical beach (or other holiday) is really what is needed or whether it would be a-void-dance.

I knew the timing wasn’t right for a holiday. But, I did need to stop and take stock. I was losing sight of what was most important to me.

I also knew that the best way to deal with any state is to turn into it and experience it fully. Re-connection to soulful work and callings happen when we accept and engage with our experience, even when neither convenient nor desired.

Surrendering to a Celestial STOP

As I see it, a ‘dark night’ is an encounter with a celestial STOP sign. It’s an invitation to deepen into who and what you truly are. It’s a demand for integrity. Outcomes almost always include greater humility and awe for the life forces that are greater than the mind, which has a tendency to attach to specific outcomes.

From my experience with ‘dark nights’, I know that resistance can be a feature at the beginning. And indulgence can feature towards the end.

I felt the resistance to a call to STOP and reconsider in February. It was an interruption to my plan. ( BTW, eclipses can have this ‘stopping’ effect. What is no longer working for you gets ‘eclipsed’.)

But, I have learned to trust my ‘inner daimon’ or guiding force.

After a couple of weeks of ‘waiting’, I was back in touch with my calling. I recovered my ability to be discriminating with regard to both inner and outer imperatives to get things done.

Waiting is under rated. So often we are encouraged to worship the gods of action and outer achievement.

‘Dark nights’, whether short or long, are invitations to re-calibrate. They are opportunities to listen and get so close to your own truth that you cannot betray it.

The art of engaging with a ‘dark night’ includes learning how to surrender into it and how, and when, to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Rising like a Phoenix

It can be just as scary to act on the fruits of our realisations during a ‘dark night’ as it is to surrender into the experience in the first place.

Certainly, there was a part of me that wanted to prolong my short visit to this realm in February. But, there was a stronger imperative to be of service and remain visible.

You?

Are you either resisting a dark night or wallowing in it? Are you honouring your soul’s calling?

Do you need to wait for something new to emerge?

Or, is it time to answer a call to be of service?