Being of service wasn’t something that we talked about at home when I was a child.  My mum had a strong sense of social justice though, especially in her involvement in the women’s liberation movement in the 70’s.  She helped rehouse women and children who were homeless and was an activist for change.

I grew up generally thinking that life was about getting on with trying to fulfil your own wants and needs.

My early nursing career was my first adult experience of being of help to others in a way that was useful and gratifying.

And later when I started on a spiritual path I experienced the amazing rewards of giving of myself and my time.

One of the things that changed my work life significantly was asking the question every morning, how can I be of service today? This cut to the core of what needed to be done and seemed to set in motion a spiritual prioritization of what was truly important.

Being clear and clean about what I am giving, doing service without expectation and with an open heart is such a life changing experience.

However, there have been some pitfalls for me and others that I have spoken to about this subject.

  1. Giving to get praise or to feel special: We know we are doing this when we feel resentful after being of service due to not being given the acknowledgment we feel we deserve.
  2. Doing for others what they can do for themselves: This is a classic for parents, we think we are being helpful but really we are taking away the opportunity for our child to learn to do things for themselves.
  3. Rescuing others from the consequences of their actions: A hard one for us co-dependents. We don’t want to feel the sadness or anger at seeing our loved ones suffer and so we jump in and fix it for them.
  4. Giving to fulfill the need to be needed:  I am reminded of the story of helping an old lady across the road only to find out at the other side that she really didn’t want to cross the road at all. This kind of assistance (interference) is totally for ourselves.
  5. Only doing the service that we feel like:  Sometimes there is something that needs doing that we really don’t want to do and we say no or magnanimously offer to do the thing that we like doing.
  6. Being in servitude: This is where we give ourselves up entirely and become a slave to doing things for others We loose all sense of self and can’t take care of our own needs. We work till we drop and generally abuse ourselves in subservience.

So the challenge is to be of service in a clear way, where I am offering my time or skill without a hidden agenda and without losing my very self if the process.

How do you know you are being of service or really doing something for a return of some sort?

I’d love to hear from you if you feel so inclined.

Stay in the Flow

Mandy Galbraith

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