All I’ve ever wanted was to KNOW that my life had meaning in this world. That I served a purpose. If I could make a positive impact in someone’s life, anyone’s life, then I’ll know my life meant something.I always tried to rescue people: I’d lend them money or buy what they said they needed. I’d open up my home if they had no place to go. They could stay with me while they get their life together. I’d drop everything when someone needed anything.
I was taking care of everyone except myself.
Then, when I didn’t see what I thought was progress in their life, I’d assume they’re just not taking me seriously. I’m just a sucker to them. My opinion doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.
Even if they told me I’d helped or that I did matter in their life, I didn’t believe them because I couldn’t hear them over the voices in my head that said this world doesn’t care whether I’m here or not.
Once my kids were grown, I’d hit rock bottom.
The only ones in the world who I KNEW needed me, are getting to the age where even they won’t need me for much longer.
My cup was empty and I couldn’t pour any more.
Nobody had ever taken me seriously, or so I thought. I had to find a purpose in my life…….so I got into personal development.
I read a book called The Millionaire Messenger, about spreading your message.
I remembered my poem that I’d written about 20 years before: The World I See Begins with Me.
I had to take a look at my own world. I couldn’t help anyone fix their world if my own was a mess. I wanted to set an example for my kids. I couldn’t let them see me defeated. I had to find a purpose.
I started learning about coaching and I was told that when you give away advice or services….well, people figure you get what you pay for, right?
When you pay for something, you take better care of it. The freebies you get end up in the bottom of your purse or you just toss them aside.
When you pay for advice, you take it more seriously. You wouldn’t go to a doctor, then not at least listen to him.
But I wanted to help people who couldn’t afford coaching. The cause I’m most passionate about is homelessness…..as you can tell by the fact that I’d opened up my home. I can’t even imagine not having a place to call home.
When I started my non-profit, besides trying to figure out how to build a business from the ground up, I had to figure out how I was gonna pay my bills. How was I gonna get paid?
I lived off my savings for a while, but eventually that ran out. By now, I didn’t have any money to lend or give out. I’d spent it all trying to convince everyone that they were worth it and that anything was possible. Ironic, huh?
Even though before that, I’d had an entire corporate career working with money, apparently I knew nothing about what value means. I wasn’t valuing my self.
At work, I’d always just accepted whatever my boss was willing to pay me. I figured that’s what my time was worth. Outside of work, why would I have charged people? I was just doing what I thought was right. I wasn’t working for them. I just wanted them to think I was being this wonderful, generous person, but it was actually all about me. I was looking for validation and when I took care of people, they appreciated me.
As it turns out, it’s not that people weren’t taking me seriously.
I wasn’t taking me seriously. I was giving away all my energy and asking for nothing in return. As noble as that sounds, or at least that’s how I always made it seem, now that I needed help, I didn’t know where to turn. Remember, I couldn’t help them, so why would they want to be around me?
I had run out of money and I blamed my friends and all the people I’d supported over the years So much for noble, huh? It was like I wanted to cash in on a favor.
I needed advice but I didn’t think anyone cared enough if I would’ve asked.
Out of desperation, I had no choice. I had to step outside my comfort zone and start asking people: this time, not about what’s going on with them and how I could help, but how have I helped them?!
They pointed out the ways that I had made a difference. My whole perspective changed. I was finally able to validate MYSELF.
I found out the impact I DID have on them. I had just been blinded my my own desperation to see only what I wanted to see, that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me all along.
That’s when I realized why some people including myself, especially myself, need constant validation. I was so wrapped up in my own negative emotions. In my head, everything was all about me. When I did something for anyone else, it’s because I wanted the validation. Turns out, when you pay attention and connect with people, you learn how you affect others. You learn what an impact you make. That’s what validation is. I DO MATTER!
My programming had been so messed up and I had fought so hard to not even look at myself……turns out: that’s why I stayed focused on everyone else. I didn’t want to deal with my own demons. So I’d go looking for all in all kinds of drama.
I found out who my real friends were. The ones that stuck around when I couldn’t entertain, give them what they wanted or take care of them. Or when I didn’t have money to bail them out every time they screwed up or got screwed.
I was seeing everything in a whole new light.
Only recently, I came up with the answer. A win/win for everyone. I figured out how to charge and who to charge. Now I charge for my coaching services so I can raise enough to get to the point that I can help those who can’t afford it. But now, I KNOW I make a difference. I set limits where and when I need to.
That way, I get the satisfaction of knowing you’re taking me seriously…..and my clients get the benefit of all those very expensive life lessons I’ve learned over the years.
I share what I’ve learned along my own journey. I teach about gratitude, positivity, and how to really hear and see what’s going on around you so you can recognize the impact you make in the world.
The advice I give clients who struggle with getting pulled into other people’s drama when they can’t do anything about it, is to ask yourself: “What’s that got to do with me?”
Then we talk about setting boundaries letting go of responsibilities that aren’t yours to own. Is it your responsibility to bail them out? What life-lesson are they learning from that?
If you CAN help, then, by all means, do what you can. But if someone’s trying to make you responsible for their problems, then what IS YOUR responsibility is to set boundaries.
You can show compassion, by saying, “I’m sorry you’re going through that, but I’m not in a position to help right now”. You’re not being mean or cold, but you’re setting limits. If you don’t put yourself first and you run out of energy, then how can you help anyone?
Refer them to someone who can help them, if you can. But ALWAYS remember to take care of YOU first. Stay true to YOU!
If you want to make an impact. If you want to change lives, start with your own.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re busy taking care of everyone else, who’s taking care of you?
I’m still figuring out how the non-profit world works, so now as I’m caught in between cleaning up the mess I made while on this very expensive journey and the legacy I intend to leave behind, at least I know that when I’m gone, my life served a purpose.
The World, not very long ago, looked pretty gloomy to me.
But today: The World I see begins with Me.