Are you a giver? Most of those who are givers do anything possible for anyone, anytime. Joan has spent most of her life taking care of others, putting herself second, and sometimes, third, fourth or fifth. After many years, she found herself feeling hurt, rejected, used and resentful. She realized she had created an unhealthy pattern for her life.

So, now she says, “Don’t ask yourself why people keep hurting you; ask yourself why you’re allowing it to happen.”

Q. Taking care of others is a positive thing, no?

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Joan: While it is important to take care of others, it is equally important to understand your motivation. I thought it was my way of expressing love. What I have come to learn is that, while part of it was from love, another part (at times the greater part) was my need to be accepted and loved. I was trying to make others care for me. In that attempt, I gave all the time.

Q. Outside of givers making themselves very busy, are there other negative aspects to be a giver?

Joan: Over givers tend to attract “takers”, so it’s important to pay attention to what is happening in a relationship. Many of my past relationships have left me wondering what was wrong with me. I did everything humanly possible for the other person so why would he/she walk out of my life easily and never look back. I really thought I was flawed. But then I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. Those people left my life when I no longer served a purpose for them. They were never truly invested in the relationship; they were energy and emotion vampires. It was not my problem, but rather the way they dealt with people.

Q. Can you suggest ways to stay away from these kinds of people, the takers?

Joan: Once I let myself off the hook and got rid of the negative energy and emotion drains, I became free. I no longer waste time wondering what I’m doing wrong. With the right people, you never feel that way. In the right relationship, giving is a partnership, a 50/50 deal. Sometimes one person may give more, another time the other, but in the end, you take care of each other.

Some hard-earned advice:

Create boundaries. Learn how to say “no.” If someone asks you to do something, pay attention to how your body feels. If you tense up or have a sick feeling in your stomach, don’t do it. You’ll end up being angry and resentful.

Check your motivation. Are you doing something because you truly want to or because you want the person to like you? If you have to earn someone’s affection in this manner, it’s not worth having.

Evaluate your relationships. Is it a partnership? Is there some benefit to you?

Never stop giving; just be a smart giver.