The inspiration for this blog came from the classic Clint Eastwood aka “Dirty Harry” line in Magnum Force “A man has got to know his limitations.” To me, this means that it is equally important to be self-aware of what we cannot do as well as what we can do. So why then is it important for givers to know their limitations? Because, the act of giving can be both a blessing and a curse for individuals wired this way. By understanding the tendencies associated with giving, individuals can better use this gift to help others without compromising their personal health or happiness. In other words, not forgetting about caring for the caregiver.
Being a Giver
Let’s step back for a moment and get some clarity on how I’m using the term giver. I believe certain individuals, I include myself in this group, are predisposed with an excessive giving gene. They are selfless individuals; that are generous with their time; and get real sense of joy and pleasure out of helping others. One of my less than flattering nicknames in high school, among my closest friends, was State Farm. You know the jingle “like a good neighbor, State Farm, is there.” They picked up on the fact that I was always helping someone with something. There was a lot of truth to this nickname and the irony of it is that it was both a compliment and a cut, or blessing and curse, as I previously mentioned.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know the many blessings associated with the act of giving but have you ever considered that there may also be pitfalls with over-giving? Givers tend to place a greater importance on the wants and needs of others over their own. This behavior, over time, can lead to a sense of frustration, resentment and even neglect. So, the million dollar question is this: How do givers insure that their giving is truly a blessing for others without also becoming a self-induced curse? How do we make sure the world is caring for the caregiver?
Finding the Time for Self-Care
For me, it took the loss of two loved ones, my mother Maxine and wife Alyson in 18 months, to grasp the stark reality that time is both precious and finite. I quickly came to the realization that time is a special commodity that must be protected and respected. I have become much more selective regarding how I spend my time and with whom do I give of my time. I now look forward to squeezing every minute out of each new day with my like-minded band of brothers. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by a special group of friends that place the same value on friendship, athletic competition, music and laughter and truly love life, as do I. They are truly the ultimate givers!
In my book, Know Your Enemy, the First Edition, I told the story about how blessed I felt to have the love and support of friends and family members during one of the most grueling periods in my life. Their genuine acts of kindness and compassion reinforced my belief in the goodness of others and the notion of having a greater purpose in life. They were truly caring for the caregiver.
Expressing My Gratitude on Caring for the Caregiver
I wrote the following poem to express my gratitude to this special group of individuals.
And I would encourage readers of this blog to re-assess how you currently spend your time and with whom do you spend it. Remember, it’s never too late to change, but one must first be aware of and acknowledge a need to change before change can occur. Ask yourself these questions: “Do I spend more time caring for others than I do for myself?” and “Who can I turn to when I need someone to care for me?”
The Chosen Few
When a life-changing event, rocks your world to the core.
Who will help you up, as you pick yourself off the floor?
Consider yourself blessed, if your earthly sphere includes.
A special band of brothers, I refer to as -The Chosen Few.
No obstacle is too great, for this brotherhood to overcome.
And no quarter will they cede, until the final battle is won.
Of whom do I speak? Who are these chosen few?
They are a special band of brothers, and one of them, is you.
So in these words I Thank You, more than you will ever know.
And, if the need shall one day arise, I, too, will stand with you.
Never stop caring for the caregiver: yourself. And never let others stop caring for you, either.