Ellen's book will strengthen and guide you in your role as caregiver to an elder parent or relative, and help you understand your own physical, emotional, mental & spiritual needs.
Debbie Ford, Are You Giving Too Much
In November of 2008 I took the Shadow Process workshop with Debbie Ford in San Diego. It was an intense experience, definitely not for the faint of heart, but the right thing at that point in time for me. The workshop is based on her early book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. I thoroughly recommend this book to everyone.
When I think back to that weekend, two things remain in my mind:
- Firstly, it came home to me strongly personally and in a more general way that the human personality is a duality of positive and negative traits, although we tend to see it in black and white in our western culture.
- Secondly, when one fully engages in the workshop, it’s possible to release powerful impactful issues from the past: For me that meant the release of another layer of pain from the loss of my newborn many years ago; and a forgiveness and energetic release of my father who passed away in 1975.
Giving Too Much is an issue that women struggle with frequently. I devote a whole chapter to this topic in my book, Surviving Eldercare. the chapter is entitled Doing Too Much.
This is Debbie’s newsletter for this week. It’s such an important topic I decided to re-print it in full:
Are You Giving Too Much?
There is an affliction quietly and insidiously affecting us that crosses all lines of age, gender and race. It began when we were young and learned that in order to fit in with our families we had to ignore our own needs, stay silent, follow along, and give away our power. As adults this syndrome continues to rob us of our ability to ask directly for what we need and want and drives us to violate ourselves and our own integrity. When we’re in its grips, we contort ourselves to fit in, to belong, and to ensure our status as a “good person”. In a moment of desperation and powerlessness, we forsake ourselves in order to avoid confrontation and the mere possibility of rejection.
This is the dis-ease of trying to be liked, being nice, seeking acceptance, and trying to please others as a strategy – as a way to feel safe in the world and worthy in our own skin. What is even more important to recognize is that seeking the approval of others is a way to avoid how deeply we disapprove of ourselves. The feared rejection of another is actually an outward reflection of how we have already rejected certain aspects of ourselves.
In all of the books I write and the trainings I lead, I encourage people to acknowledge the cost of their limiting beliefs and behaviors. When it comes to people-pleasing, the cost is so pervasive and damaging that I want to draw special attention to it this week. The moment we try to please another and abandon our own truth for theirs, we essentially hand our power to them, violate our own integrity, cut ourselves off from our inner wisdom, and – at least for a while – disconnect from our ability to love and nurture ourselves. [I know this so well, because I've done it a million times!] We may do this with our children, spouses, employers, friends and society at large. When being a “good girl” or a “good boy” becomes a way of life, we can be sure that exhaustion will accumulate, resentments will build, desperation and neediness will increase, and we’ll travel deeper into the land of victim consciousness.
This week, look to see how you might engage in people-pleasing and contemplate what the cost is in your own life, especially in the area of your self-respect…all the while keeping in mind that transformation begins when you tell yourself the truth.
As you practice being completely straight with yourself, you will notice miracles unfolding in your communications with those around you.
Your Weekly Shadow Work
Take a moment to sit quietly, take a slow deep breath, and check in with yourself. Think of a relationship or situation in your life that is particularly challenging for you right now, and ask yourself the following question from The Right Questions as it applies to this situation:
Am I standing in my power, or am I trying to please another?
Take a few minutes to jot down whatever arises. For greater clarity on how people-pleasing may be undermining you in this situation, utilize the following additional questions:
(1) How am I giving up my power to this person or situation?
(2) What am I afraid of losing?
(3) What would I need to know in order to have the courage to be straight with this person or in this situation?