If you are like me, then this article is for you.

If you are like me, the people in your life probably describe you as kind, generous and always there for them in times of need. You are the person everyone turns to when they have troubles to discuss, or children to mind, or committees to fill or volunteers to muster. And, if you are like me, you oblige every single time.

If you are like me, you find the word “no” almost impossible to say. You change your schedule and expend most of your energy in order to help, support and comfort those around you. You are drawn to those in need and forgive all transgressions against you because you “don’t want to judge”.

If you are like me, you very rarely ask for help and only do so with huge apology.

If you are like me, then your commitment to others can sometimes be so overwhelming that, in private times, you feel drained, exhausted and resentful. In these times of emptiness, you may take it out on those closest to you — your spouse and children — or you may cry silently alone due to the pressure and stress.

If you are like me, you have been taught that “being of service” is the greatest form of humility, and you can sometimes pursue this ethos until it makes you mentally, emotionally and (sometimes) physically ill.

If this is you, and you are like me, then I implore you to read the following paragraphs carefully because it is vital for you to know that Self is as important as Service.

“Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.” William Shakespeare (King Henry V. Act ii)

Throughout the evolution of human spirituality, we have been repeatedly reminded of the need to be generous, thoughtful and altruistic. However, many of us (especially women) have taken this mantra to the extreme. In our rush to give everything we have away, we have forgotten that it is important — and inherently spiritual — to keep something for ourselves in order to nurture our own inner health and well-being.

If you are like me, then you have forgotten (or have never been told) that there is one person deserving of your love, generosity and attention more than anyone else on the planet …YOU… and it is important to ensure that your needs, your desires are always met first.

When we are “full’ — when our needs are met — it becomes incredibly easy and incredibly natural to give to those around us.

Now, let me very clear about this: self-love, (or as I call it, self-fullness), does not offer a golden ticket to greed, selfishness and apathy, but it does mean that we each need to love ourselves passionately; to give ourselves permission to ensure that we are nurtured emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Then, when we are “full’ — when our needs are met — it becomes incredibly easy and incredibly natural to give to those around us.

There are four times when it is vital to put Self above Service and, if you are like me, I encourage you to discern when your actions fall into the following categories:

1. When you are rescuing, not helping: It is vital to remember that life is all about experience, and there will be times when our help or generosity actual hinders the spiritual growth of another person. By giving them continual financial help, they may never learn the value of money. By providing constant emotional support, they may never learn to tap into their own inner strength. By continually ignoring or excusing others’ bad behavior, they may never understand the need to embrace their innate love and compassion.

2. When you are only doing it because you “should”: If you truly want to help — or give your time, or support — then deep inside you will actually have all of the resources needed to complete the task; your generosity or selflessness will be coming from a place of inner “wholeness” and will only serve to lift your spirits further. However, if you are only doing something because you should, then you are probably lacking in some of your own needs. It’s time to put yourself first — or your input is not for the highest good of all concerned.

3. When you are fulfilling someone else’s dream: We each arrive on this planet with the perfect talents, desires and energy levels required for us to fulfill our role in this wondrous tapestry of life. If you find yourself investing all of your talents and energy into someone else’s dream, you can be sure that you are robbing us all of something uniquely wonderful. Remember, Mother Theresa was able to give as she did because she felt constantly “filled up” by God’s love. She was living her purpose, and all that she did for humanity, she did because she wanted to. Your purpose will be different — but just as important.

4. When you are depressed, anxious or physically ill: Your body is designed to be your feedback mechanism — are you listening? If you are unwell or depleted in any way, it is your body’s response to an inherent imbalance in the way you live your life. Injuries can also be your body’s way of telling you that your habit of carrying others (back, shoulders), lifting others (arms, hands) or investing in others’ momentum (legs and feet) is unhealthy for you.

Originally published at mariashriver.com.

Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and intuitive consultant with over 15 years’ experience as a professional intuitive and spiritual teacher. She combines cutting edge science with traditional spirituality to offer the latest understandings of psi, consciousness and holistic well being. Find out more at www.kimforrester.net

Originally published at medium.com