I know this personality type very well. My sister spirit, Deanna, is one. In fact, if there was a definition on an addictive giver…and you wanted to look it up on Wikipedia, you would see a picture of that chic included in the article.
Now don’t get me wrong…there is nothing wrong with giving and attending to the needs of others. Doesn’t the Good Book tell us it is better to give than to receive? I mean where would this world be without givers such as Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King? People like Oprah, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are well-known for their philanthropic activities. Shoot…Oprah’s Favorite Things events were among her talk show’s highest-rated episodes. And don’t even forget the popularity of shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
But Deanna takes giving to the extreme. That girl doesn’t know what it means to do something for herself. Now some times I’ve gone along with Deanna when she is trying to please someone because it was just so much fun. Those occasions have usually been the source of pleasure for me as well, so why should I disappoint lil’ girl.
Every once in a while Deanna’s Kum-ba-yah sensibilities will lead us down a path of destruction. See the problem is that the lil’ lady is so focused on pleasing another person, she will entertain his or her every whim. Some of those wishes have been downright reckless with life changing implications. The other person plays on Deanna’s desire to keep him or her happy. And when it all blows up, we are left holding the bag.
My sense of adventure can be particularly dangerous when coupled with Deanna’s desire to please. That’s when Dana steps in…thank God for her! Normally she will entertain Deanna’s free-hearted nature…but when I become an active participant, she starts to closely monitor the situation. It’s not that I push Deanna to do the wrong thing…no I don’t do that. But I must admit that my “embrace-and enjoy-every-moment” nature will lead us to the edge and have us close to teetering over and free-falling into the valley of regret.
I became really aware of this after a conversation on the eve of my New Year-Birthday celebration. One of our girlfriends had treated me to dinner. She was recapping her year. She was quite pleased with the progress she had made. She talked about how she was now taking time to treat herself…doing things just for her. She pointed out that since she was a little girl she had been seeking the approval of others. So anything that they wanted became what she wanted. She would go to extreme measures to make sure that they got it, even if it left her feeling miserable. And the people she sought to keep happy expected that from her all the time and didn’t seem to care about her wishes and desires. Therefore her happiness was never a priority to them or her.
She really found this out the hard way when she battled lung cancer about four years ago. After suffering the heartbreak of being abandoned by her husband, she found herself pretty much dealt with the dreadful disease alone. Her company even eliminated her position while she was on medical leave. Very few of those who surrounded her during recovery were sensitive to her emotional and physical challenges. They were so used to her focusing on their needs that they did not know how to treat her when she no longer could.
As I sat and listened to our friend, I realized the negative potential of Deanna’s character. Although she is sweet and caring, her need to pleasure others is not always healthy. Many of the health issues we have dealt with can be traced to the lack of self-focus. We ignored abdominal pain for 10 years because we had to attend to the needs of others. It didn’t stop until we were forced to have emergency gall bladder removal. A few years before a lump in our left breast was ignored until it manifested itself in back pain and we had to undergo surgery. Thank God it was not cancerous. There have been other occasions where Deanna has ignored our well-being to focus on others. She must learn that we cannot truly be there for others if we do not attend to ourselves first. Shoot, that is the concept behind the safety instructions given on flights. If Deanna’s overwhelming need to please others is not dealt with it, it can actually destroy all of us.