Do you give generously because you want to, or is there some manipulation involved because you think you have to?
For many of us, the habit of false giving is the only form of generosity we know because we’ve done it for years. But in reality, inauthentic giving is disempowering. When we are not giving authentically, we take on false patterns, such as giving to get, giving on empty, and giving without healthy boundaries. We don’t give freely, but with a personal plan in mind; there are strings attached. Giving to get is a manipulative way of getting others to respond as you would like them to.
Similarly, giving when you really need to recharge and replenish yourself can be a form of martyrdom, feeling depleted with nothing to offer. When you make an offer without boundaries, the separation between you and others becomes unclear. You submit yourself without energy to spare, which can lead to resentment.
Authentic giving is heartfelt and comes from our sense of knowing and acting upon what is needed. When we feel like giving, we give. And when we’re depleted or don’t want to do something for whatever reason, we say no without worrying. We don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Our security comes from the inside, not from outside approval. Giving from a warm and generous place means that there will be times when we need to set limits because we can’t do it all.
To determine if you are giving authentically, ask yourself…
- Does my way of giving fulfill or recharge me?
- Do I feel resentful after giving?
- Do I feel truthful when saying “no” or “yes?”
Setting boundaries from the start allow you to navigate your workplace. This helps avoid potential toxic environments and creates a clear path to do your best work without being taken advantage of or burning out.
Here are five steps you can take to treat burnout by choosing to address the problem within the workplace or with your personal life.
Assess your personal boundaries, their limits, and how to set them.
Your personal limitations will stem from your values and your life’s priorities. At work, any job worth having is, first and foremost, a job. Aside from your work, you have your home life, relationships, passions, and personal space to consider. Know your limits, pay attention to your feelings, give yourself permission to set boundaries, and consider your environment. Don’t give inauthentically at your own peril.
Ask for help.
Whether by discussing an overly demanding workload with other team members, by reporting an abusive or discriminatory practice to human resources, or by speaking to management about your responsibilities, you may be able to get help with a problem.
Once you have your priorities and values in place, communicate them to your boss, coworkers, and friends. This is as simple as letting your colleagues know that you don’t answer your emails after 7pm. When you take steps with others to communicate upfront, you safeguard against future miscommunications and inauthentic giving.
Create clear structures.
By creating clear boundary-based structures upfront, it takes any guessing work out of common boundary infractions. Your coworkers are less likely to interrupt your work if you set up blocks of time in which you are engaged in do-not-disturb work.
Sometimes, you can just say—and this is tough for many of us—no. Saying no is a lot easier said than done, especially in a professional atmosphere. For instance, asking for an alternative with a reason why this isn’t possible for you or why you won’t take it on will help the other person understand. It’s important not to ask for an alternative in an accusatory way but, instead, in a way that elicits a little empathy from the other person. It explains the scope of work you do have. It explores whether you can fit in more work without having your primary responsibilities suffer. By asking for an alternative, you’re giving the other person a chance to consider the work you do have—and whether adding more (or interrupting it) is actually feasible.
Lerner, Helene. In Her Power: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self. Atria Paperback, 2012.