When you look at the world around you and you know you have the capacity to help people, it feels amazing!
You think of all of the people you could potentially introduce, all of the advice you could give, and all of the causes you could support, and you feel GREAT!
Now you sit down at your computer and go to work pumping out introductions, commenting on blogs, setting up dinner gatherings, and you are absolutely on fire. Your inbox starts to fill up with people who are thanking you and this pleasant feeling makes you want to do even MORE.
So you do.
Now your calendar is loaded with one on one meetings, dinners, parties, and other events. People are telling you that you are like a superhero always coming in and making sure someone gets a job or gets connected to someone they never thought they could. You smile and feel the rush again, you’re blazing! You decide you can do MORE.
So you do.
Now your calendar is packed seven days a week. A networking breakfast here, a late night party there, and more and more people are coming to you asking for things. You’re happy to help so you stay up till 3am answering emails, doing that Skype call, and planning that next great event. Everyone is thanking you and you feel the rush again: you’re a supernova!
You start to feel something else.
You can’t quite explain it, but it doesn’t feel so good. You ignore it and answer one more email before crashing into your bed. You can’t remember the last time you got eight hours, but it’s totally fine. You’ll be ready to roll in the morning.
Your eyes snap open as your alarm goes off after four hours of sleep and you immediately reach for your phone.
MORE people need help!
You jump on your email and start with the intros, the meeting plans, and the scheduling and you feel that other thing again, but you ignore it and jet out the door for your early morning meeting flames trailing behind you.
A week later, you can’t get out of bed.
You’re exhausted and feeling awful. Your bank account is empty and you suddenly want to cry.
Your flame is out.
You’re crashing from the Giver’s Fix.
Giving releases oxytocin which makes you feel good, so when you do it, you want to do more of it. It is actually like a high. Much in the same way you can become addicted to drugs, you can easily become addicted to giving and in the process stop taking care of yourself.
I used to be like that, and it was not pretty. A few years ago I never got enough sleep, spent all of my time helping other people, and eventually started having some pretty serious health problems. Eventually I came to realize a very important point:
If your fire burns out you can’t give light to anyone else.
I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself first I wasn’t going to be much use to anyone else around me. I had to learn to cut back on the meetings, being measured in how much I could help, and be honest with myself about how much sleep I needed.
If you’re reading this and you love to give, take a moment to check in with yourself.
Are you taking care of yourself BEFORE you go out and try and save someone else?
If the answer is NO, you may be suffering from the Giving Fix.
The good news?
There’s a cure.
All you have to do is say No a little more often to the requests and Yes a little more often to yourself.
As an addict, I sometimes slip back into my old habits, but everytime I do, I look back on that morning I couldn’t get out of bed and I take a deep breath.
Close my email
And do something for me.
You can too.