One of the common phrases I was raised with was “give and take.” Meaning, in my home if you wanted to be part of the “community” we called family and you wanted my mother’s cooperation, you had better learn it was a “two way street”.
In other words, there was a clearly spoken rule that for me to ask for help with homework, something for the school bake sale or a drive to one of the many extra-curricular activities that populated my calendar, I had better be willing to do my part.
It’s a great step in generating a sense of social responsibility and I value the lessons contained in that simple equation. Everyone who is a member of the family does their fair share. The missing piece for me I had to learn on my own later, particularly when I became a caregiver for my late husband was not only is it important to give to others as part of how we participate in our families, relationships and our community at large. It is also important to learn to give to ourselves. Sometimes this means allowing ourselves to step away from our responsibilities and invoke some mandatory R & R for ourselves. Sometimes this means asking for help and allowing others to be of service to us.
It is what I call the give-give balance. Yes to giving to others and our communities AND yes to knowing when to invest some time, energy and resources to maintain our own well-being. As someone who learned the hard way the terrible toll failing to maintain a give-give approach can mean, I was recently asked as a Your Tango Expert to contribute to an article on the gift of contributing to others. Check out “Do You Give Too Much or Too Little to Your Relationships” for more insights and a fair warning on the cost of giving out of balance.