As Pacific people, our culture calls us to be selfless – to care for others, particularly our family, friends and the most vulnerable people in our community. You won’t find it hard to find a Pacific person who’d be more than willing to give up their spot for someone in need. But when does caring, go too far? Is it possible that caring too much, is actually a problem?
You can’t give something you don’t have
We all love to help, and we all love to give, especially when it comes to those in need. But before going that extra mile, we need to make sure we have enough fuel in our tank to push us through. Otherwise we’ll burn out, or worse, hurt ourselves or others along the way when we eventually crash and burn.
If you want to give financially, physically, mentally or emotionally – make sure you can provide for yourself and that all of your own needs (and the needs of your dependants) are taken care of first. When we don’t do that, we deprive ourselves of what we’re hoping to give to others. It might feel like a badge of honour, but in reality it’s unsustainable and an irresponsible way of giving.
Saying no to others means saying yes to your self
“What you say no to will be more powerful in your life than what you say yes to.” – Pastor Rick Godwin. What does that mean? It means that sometimes you have to say no, in order to say yes to whatever it is that truly makes your soul sing.
For example, if you love volunteering at your local homeless shelter, it might mean that you’ll have to say no to the extra shifts your manager has been asking you to cover. If you want to have a strong and happy marriage, you might have to say no to your church commitments when they clash with quality time with your spouse. If you want to raise money for a charitable cause, you’re going to have to consider saying no to your brother the next time he asks you for money.
The ‘no’ might look different for you, but essentially, regardless of who you are, it’s a matter of being clear on what your purpose is. From there it becomes to much easier to identify what you say yes or no to.
Intention is everything
When it comes to caring for others, you gotta check your intentions at the door. Whether your doing your best to care for a loved one, a group or a whole community, your intention (whether you like it or not) will drive you to your outcome.
Be clear on why you’re doing this, why you’re there and what you’re hoping to achieve. It’s easy to be uprooted, swayed and shifted once you’re deep into caring for others, so it’s important to take time to remind yourself of your intentions. It’ll keep you centred, grounded and on track in an environment where emotions can easily take over when it comes to decision-making.
As a Pacific person, being a caring person is part of who you are – and that’s okay. Our culture greatly supports a sense of selflessness, charity, community and action-based love. The only time this becomes and issue is when we compromise our own self-care, when the work we’re doing is no longer in line with our purpose, and when our intentions go un-checked and we find ourselves in situations that we never thought we’d end up in. The answer to being too caring is not giving up on caring altogether. It’s finding a balance between caring for others, and pouring that same work, love and concern into our own lives too.