How To Stop Giving Away All Your Time

How To Stop Giving All Your Time Away and Still Be Kind

Do you sometimes say yes to people's requests when you really wanted to say no? So you end up giving away your time and energy, and then later resent it? The following is one of the many stories from  How Kind People Get Tough. See if you relate, and read on to find out how you too can stop giving away your time but still be kind and caring to those who need you!

Hannah and Maisie's Story

Since Hannah’s uncle had passed away two years previously, she'd been spending a great deal of time with her aunt Masie. Masie had been feeling very lonely, and Hannah was doing her best to be there for her.

The problem was that Masie was becoming more and more demanding of Hannah’s time. Hannah felt that things were getting out of control. It was as though Masie wanted to monopolise her every moment.

‘She gets so upset,’ she said. ’Even if I have coffee with a friend, she gets jealous and accuses me of not caring about her. The only time I get to myself is when I’m at work—and that’s not really free time. I can’t seem to get her to understand that I just need some time for myself.’

Hannah was becoming ever more tired and resentful of the situation. She had tried to hide her feelings from Masie, she told me, but she knew that her aunt was picking up on her resentment. I could see that an unhelpful pattern had formed. The more Hannah resented giving up her time, the more rejected Masie felt, the more she wanted Hannah's attention.

Giving Away Your Time Will Only Make You More Resentful

From Hannah’s description of her aunt’s behaviour, it would have been very easy to jump to the conclusion that Masie was just a selfish woman who didn’t care about anyone else’s needs but her own. Judgments though, never help. I was interested to find out more about Hannah and her aunt.

Hannah described herself as being an introvert—she needed time alone to recharge from the energy of other people and the busyness of life. On the other hand, she realised that Masie was more of an extrovert; she craved social interaction and stimulation.

For those people who need solitude, it can be extremely stressful to have someone constantly monopolising their time. And for those who need social interaction, it can feel like a painful abandonment when someone simply wants time alone. As we explored this, Hannah was able to consider that she and her aunt simply had different needs. This understanding allowed her to step back from the emotional intensity of the situation so that she could discuss it with Masie calmly and with kindness.

Masie was of a generation that wasn’t familiar with the concept of the introvert personality; she hadn’t understood Hannah’s need for solitude. Once Hannah explained, Masie realised that Hannah wasn’t abandoning or rejecting her. Now that they had some clarity, they were able to make a shift towards resolving the problem.

How To Stop Giving Away Your Time

Instead of feeling plagued by her aunt’s demands and feeling guilty and resentful, Hannah came up with some clear time boundaries. She arranged specific times in the week when she would visit and spend time with her aunt. Safe in the knowledge that this would definitely happen, her aunt calmed down. They began to enjoy each other’s company much more.

It can be easy to feel that a person is expecting you to give up all your time when in reality they just want company in general. Hannah also found a social group for her aunt where she could make friends with people of her own age, and so that she wouldn’t be lonely in between Hannah’s visits.

When Hannah had first started spending more time with her aunt, she’d done it with great kindness—but it had been a misguided type of kindness. At the time, she hadn’t thought through the message that it would give her aunt: ‘I’m always available/but then maybe I’m not …’

Hannah found it much easier to be with her aunt because she was being clearer on what time she had available and setting boundaries around that. Now, she was focusing on what she did want, instead of feeling resentful about what she didn’t. She was being more authentic about her own needs and at the same time seeking a win-win outcome for them both.

Imagine living on your own terms, free from the shadow of others' opinions and judgments. Where people-pleasing is a thing of the past and self-love is your natural way of being. 

If this is the life you want, start here ...

Discover Your People-Pleaser Profile

Which of these are your patterns?

  • Rescuing
  • Over-Giving
  • Fixing
  • Conflict Avoiding
  • Adapting

Take this quiz to find out your scores, and I'll send you tips and strategies to help you break the people-pleasing habit.

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