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March 15, 2004

Don't Forget Yourself

Many of us are givers. We do for others because we have to, because we want to, because we've been training to, because religious dogma says we should, and because it distracts us from our own pain and emptiness. As children, many of us had to give to our parents in hopes that they would give us what we needed. It was usually an endless struggle that never really worked. Instead we developed an entrenched pattern of knee-jerk giving that won't stop.

Giving is okay if it's really giving. Much of the time, however, I see that it is a manipulation of others to make them indebted to us. Much of the time it contains a hidden insult—that others are not capable of doing things on their own. Much of the time it keeps others weak and powerless. And much of the time it keeps the entire relationship unbalanced because the giver does not factor him- or herself into the equation.

I'm into equality and universality. If we are going to have compassion, let's have it for everyone—including ourselves. If we are going to give, let's give to everyone—including ourselves.

Can we do this? Can we give to ourselves with as much dedication and passion as we give to others? Can we have as much love and compassion for ourselves as we have for others? Can we embrace ourselves and our pain and emptiness as firmly as we do for others?

If not, why not? Religious dogma that says it is "better to give than to receive"? Societal conditioning that says we should not be selfish? A childhood fear that people (our parents) won't like us if we aren't giving to them all the time?

This isn't a moral issue, it's physics. If you remove matter, you get a powerful vacuum. If a lake empties faster than it fills, it dries up. If a lioness does not feed herself, the cubs—and she—will die.

Come full circle. Give to yourself.

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