From self-pity to empowerment

I recently found myself caught in a rut of self-pity, resentment, and frustration. I needed help and I wasn't getting it. I wasn't even asking for much, but no one came through for me the way I wanted them to. 

People are stingy! I started thinking. Don't they get how much of a difference they could make? How dare they sit back and do nothing, assuming that someone else will be the one to step forward?

Have you ever noticed that when you get angry at other people, the words you start using to criticize them could just as easily describe you?

After ranting to myself a while, that's exactly what I realized: It's not "other people" I'm mad at for being stingy with me. I'm mad at myself for being stingy with other people.

I see requests for food and clothing donations, and pretend not to see them. I tell myself things like, "That's just not my thing. I contribute in other ways."

I see people's invitations to events, or opportunities to volunteer my time for a good cause, and immediately look for excuses not to go. I tell myself, "I'm just too busy. I have more important things to do."

I see opportunities all around me to contribute to people: to write them a testimonial, help promote their event, to support their fundraising effort, or even simply to "like" their Facebook page. And yet so often I don't do it. I tell myself, "I'll let someone else do that. I'm sure they'll be fine without me." 

Over and over, I choose not to give, and then tell myself it doesn't matter. They don't matter. I don't matter.

It's a tricky situation, because of course, if I automatically said yes to every opportunity to give and serve, I would quickly become overwhelmed.

But automatically saying no has its own repercussions, too. It makes me feel small and selfish. It reinforces my fears of not having, doing, or being enough. And it makes me feel like I live in a world where people don't support each other -- which I know because *I* don't support them! 

What's interesting is that when I look back over the past several weeks more objectively, I see that I've actually been offered a ton of love, encouragement and opportunities. I was just so focused on what was missing that I barely even noticed. 

It can be hard to reach out to other people when I'm feeling empty, but I don't want to love people only when it's easy. I want to practice loving them when it's hard, too. I want to be proud of the way I treat people, not just when I feel like it, but every single day. It is one of the best self-help techniques I know.

To help me get back into this practice, I'm committing to doing -- and sharing -- one small thing that I feel good about every day throughout the month of December. Would you like to participate too? If so, come join me in the Gift of Happiness Facebook group, where all of the sharing will be happening. I hope to see you there!