Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Generosity and boundaries

This week there's another great Spring into Action question: when does generosity turn into being taken advantage of?

One group that I try to show a lot of generosity to is the local homeless community. Because of where I work I have more contact with this demographic than probably a lot of other people and this is an issue that's really close to my heart.

However, I've had to draw a lot of boundaries around my generosity here. I've learned that I can give of myself (a smile, a quick chat) more than I can monetarily, and I have to follow my gut when I start to feel taken advantage of even on that level. If someone appears to want to monopolize my time, I've gotten good at compassionately ending the interaction. I'm getting better at not feeling guilty or that I "should" be any different from what I feel comfortable with.

I've really learned to trust my gut on this one. As soon as I start to resent an interaction, that's a good sign that it isn't really good for either of us. And this goes for an interaction with anyone, not just my homeless friends. As someone who likes to please and be seen as a "good" person, I've taken on more than I can handle in many arenas. But I'm getting better at staying in touch with my body and really feeling when something becomes overwhelming and figuring out how to say no, or to find a solution where I'm still in control and making sure my voice is being heard. But this is an ongoing practice for me.

How about you?