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When you are just too burnt out to even smile

Period of prolonged stress and pressure robs even the most optimistic and cheerful person the ability to smile. All of sudden, the world seemed to be a depressing place with all the blood sucking vampires wanting something out of you. 

Sometimes we give and give and when things do not come back as expected, we become angry, frustrated and resentful. We feel everyone’s taking from us. After a while, we feel so hollow, tired and drained inside. 

We feel that there’s nothing left inside us to give….and we have nothing to offer to anybody anymore. 

Many of us are familiar with this feeling at some points of our lives. But after a while, the period seemed to have passed and the world is back to being okay again….until the next wave of ‘people who take and take’ starts coming into our lives. 

Andrew Matthews made quite an interesting observation in one of his books- that when we give and we have expectation of an outcome or reward in return, that’s not considered as giving. That’s measuring and there’s a difference….. 

Not long ago, I saw someone who was unfortunately suffering from total burnt out. So much so that the person loses the complete ability to smile or have anything to look forward for. Anyone who went near her could feel the hostility and negative repressed energy in her. 

She had gone about life previously being very sure of what she had wanted. And if you had try to tell her that her path was wrong, she will just dismiss you with a curt comment or she will just ignore what you said. It was always either her way or the highway…. 

A person who is confident and sure of what they want should be happy rite? 

No, if the person is inflexible and not open to ideas or experiences of other people. And when he/she automatically assume that others are wrong and he/she is always right. 

My mentor once told me, if our hearts are unkind, everything we think about or assume about other people will be unkind. Because we tend to judge others based on our own personal standards and how we would usually behave given the same circumstances. So if we usually will bully and be calculative with others, we will automatically assume that someone else think the way we do and if they exhibit certain characteristic, we are quick to jump to conclusion and judge them. Sometimes, our judgment may be too harsh, and often than not, downright mistaken. 

Instead, I was advised that the best way to lead a happy life is to do things without expecting anything in return. Not to help and do a favour for someone just to be liked, accepted and respected. Many people are always bending backwards for other people and putting others above themselves because they crave for the love, respect and acceptance from others. It could be tied to a low self worth and self-confidence, which is the underlying issue that a lot of us are facing. 

I believe the words of my mentor because she’s a living example- she struggled a lot and met with a lot of mean hearted people but she preserved. A big part of her mission is into helping women overcome difficulties and during her initial years, these women whom she had helped ended up betraying and abandoning her because of instigation, jealousy and power. And yet, she still continues to help and give. 

If we want to do someone a favor, do it because we are happy and willing doing it. Don’t attach invisible hidden price tags. Not because we want to please and be nice and hope that by doing it, the person in question will repay us in kind. 

From my experience, we are setting ourselves up for frustration and disappointment when we do that. And we get burnt out easily because it’s the strange nature of people that once they know you are a self sacrificing martyr, they will continue raining ‘can you do me a small favour please’ on you.

Don’t be upset with them- people usually are able to do things to us because they thought we’re cool with it. So when we suddenly burst into anger and yell at them, most often, they are shocked and you end up undoing all your good efforts in just a few minutes of ugly outburst.

We are also putting our happiness on the hands of other people, which in truth, is never within our control. 

We can choose to love and accept ourselves. But we cannot make another person love and accept us forever and ever (forever love is so overrated, often psycho and drilled into our brains by evergreen romantic ballads). What we can do is while the person’s in our life, we appreciate and enjoy the company- perhaps in future we will have to part ways but to worry our mind thinking of worse case scenarios ain’t doing us any good. 

Many marriages today are on the rocks because a spouse gives with a price tag and expectation…and this often could be feel by the other partner. After a while, the partner feel stifled and stop appreciating the spouse, and this drives the giving spouse into a frenzy. 

We cannot control the reaction and change in another person- the only thing within our control is to choose to be happy or not. 

Happiness is really a choice and a conscious decision that we make daily. Still, it requires practice and perseverance, just like acquiring a new habit. But my dear friend, with each try, it gets easier.

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1 comment




  • Christine June 21, 2010, 4:21 pm

    Agreed so much with what you said. I wish I had read this earlier but I guess it is human nature to expect a reward for the effort we put in, which is something that our family and society has drummed into us since young. Nevertheless, it is always good to be happy with oneself and not rely on others.

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