I have a servant’s heart, as do many of my clients. There is a downside to being of selfless service to others, and that is neglecting the self-care necessary to maintain a healthy life for the person possessing a servant’s heart. The result is a decline in emotional health, that left to deteriorate, will affect the biological system and adding undue mental stress. This could result in lack of self-respect, angst, premature aging and a host of other health-related issues.
The servant must find ways to preserve themselves to be able to better serve their clients, community and/or world at large. Often, the servant feels as though, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one,” (Spock, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan).
There needs to be a healthy balance, even so – rarely – one may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. Many have had to answer the call, including my 20-year-old son who answered this call on a particular 4th of July while serving in the Armed Services in Afghanistan, though most of us in the service of others will not face paying the ultimate price on their behalf.
That said, to better serve others best, we in service must pay enough attention to our own needs to maintain a healthy platform to work from enabling us to better serve our communities.
Servants need to stop feeling the needs of others are more important than their own. If you have neglected your own self-care, it’s time to take back your life to increase your effectiveness in servitude. Your needs are important and only you have the ability to tend to your needs. It can be uncomfortable, but taking steps to preserve one’s self is paramount to your success in effective service over time.
The key is balance
Learn to say, “No”
For the servant, it can seem counter-intuitive, but you were created with an internal sensor to help you monitor when and what serves your highest and best performance of your service. Some call it intuition; at the very least it is that undaunted feeling of overwhelm, a clear indication the situation at hand is not congruent with your personal terms of service.
In this moment it is certainly prudent for you to exercise your ability to simply say, “No.” (I can see that grimacing expression on your face. Stay with me…) you must start using this word. Uncomfortable as it may be at first, trust me, it will get easier. It’s a small two-letter word that will help you create enough space to establish a basic parameter. It is not your calling to be all things to all men and besides, saying no doesn’t imply that you don’t respect or like someone; it only means no. That’s all.
You may need a little wiggle room to muster up a firm, “No.” If so, you could offer up a stall tactic, like, “Let me check my schedule and get back to you.”
If you have a long history of always saying, “Yes,” when it was not in your best interest, you could dress it up a bit by saying, “Now is not a good time for me,” or, “that’s not really my area of expertise,” and refer them to someone more keenly attuned to that particular circumstance or project.
You can refer them to someone who is better suited or equipped to take on the task, or encourage the person approaching you to examine their own abilities and some insightful review might lead them to the conclusion that they may have the skills necessary to undertake it on their own. Why not use your intuition to give them the opportunity to grow?
In the event you have accepted a particular responsibility and felt uncomfortable or resentful for having accepted the challenge, this is a clear indication, that when approached with this type of offer in the future, declining the assignment is certainly in order.
For the persons who call on you to serve them, and have little respect for all that you do, ask yourself, “Would I let this person treat my son or daughter, like that?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to start setting some healthy boundaries.