image: Kimberly Dawn Clayton
I’ve been accused (more than once) of giving away the farm.
Whether it was business advice, personal time, working for free or less than what I should have been paid – you name it. It was never my intention to work for free. It was just, well… time and time again I would find myself in a place where what I was giving was not lining up with what I was receiving. While I knew that there was some sort of imbalance there, I could not quite put my finger on it, and so the cycle and pattern continued on for many years. My own personal projects and family priorities were what kept ending up on the back burner – and while I loved helping people out, giving the “friend” discount for my services and offering my gifts and talents for free – it was eating up my self worth and creating a distorted view of how I was valued by myself and others.
I wanted to shift this pattern. I NEEDED to shift this pattern. For not only the sake of my mortgage but also my marriage and the future of my own dreams and desires.
I began in internal process of investigating WHY I felt the need to give my services away without expecting anything in return. Well, right there (without expecting anything in return) was a big “aha!” moment for me. I was taking a spiritual principle about non-attachment and manipulating it so I could use it against myself. Beneath this idea of “working for free” was a deeply embedded belief that I was “not worthy.” Hmmm. That was pretty darn interesting. I began to quietly invite this feeling of “not being worthy” into my meditation practice, into conversations with my husband about bills. I began to notice how much resistance I had around “feeling valued.” This practice of “just noticing” turned up opportunities to dig a little deeper and ask more questions.
What was my intention around giving myself away like this?
The answer that kept showing up over and over again was “a desire to serve.” I wanted to make myself available to be of service to my community and show up to help in whatever ways I could offer. That beneath all of it, I felt that my life was a gift and that by God’s Grace, I have been blessed. Now, I felt as if it was my turn to give back.
OK! Another “aha” moment! The desire I felt was “to serve.” And serving my friends and the community was great and wonderful – but when my own family and my personal relationships suffered because it it, I realized that maybe all I needed to do was some soul searching around re-prioritizing what was truly important to me and where I wanted to be of service. So, I made a list of the top three important things in my life:
2. Spiritual Practice
I then made another list of where I felt I need to create value and understand my worth so that I could “serve” what was important to me (are you still with me?):
1. My Social Media Business
2. Teaching/Speaking Career
3. Collaborative & creative endeavors
Another aha moment! It seemed as if my two lists were a bit backwards. I was placing more importance on my external world rather than my internal world. Seem familiar?
Being able to name what was most important to me and go back to it everyday has slowly started to reshape my self worth and how I view myself. When I am able to properly apply the principle of “giving without expecting anything in return” in the areas of my life that are most important to me, I find that I do get back way more in return than I ever anticipated. When I move back into the world, where it is important to me to feel valued, I am more aligned with negotiating my needs. If what the world is offering does not serve what is most important to me, then it is not the right fit.
I am (this is) a daily work in progress.
I have lots of moments where I feel I could so easily slip back into my old habits and patterns. I want to be able to lend a helping hand. I want to give back. I want to support my community and those around me. I am redefining my definition of service. Perhaps today it is sending a good thought, or sharing a compliment. Or simply choosing, in my own self, to do what is most important to be so I can show up as a brighter light for those around me.
image: Kimberly Dawn Clayton