How much sacrifice can we make before it starts to peel from our very being, our lifeforce, who we truly are as a person? When we make a decision to give up something, whether it be a type of food, an activity, or just time all in order to make someone else feel better… are you doing it for yourself, them, or because you THINK it’ll be good for you… because they want it? Convoluted, for sure. But if I sacrifice 5 of my 10 apples and give them to you, I’ll feel generous and happy for making you happy, and I’ll still have 5 apples. Not bad. But if I give you all 10 apples, now I’m hungry and upset that I have no food… and I’ll probably end up carrying a little quiet contempt that you have all my apples and barely said “thanks.” Quite the generalization, but let’s dive deeper into this. But first, give me back a couple of my apples.
Sacrifice means to give up (something important or valued) for the sake of other considerations. These other considerations could be for the betterment of yourself, for others’ joy, or for a higher power (Think of all the goats that were killed just for rain). Those all could be argued that they’re interchangeable. Meaning, I could give up my Sunday afternoon to help my parents with some yardwork. Yes, I gave up my Sunday afternoon of time I’d otherwise be spending doing something for me, but instead I gave up my hours for them. In turn, I feel good for helping out my parents. So is it a sacrifice? There’s definitely an argument to be made that my parents’ happiness being far more valuable to me than a few free hours on an afternoon. The time that was sacrificed was most likely going to be used in a selfish manner, but who’s to say? What if that time was going to be used bettering myself by working on a skill or creative expression? So the work was sacrificed for other work? So the sacrifice is always the loser of the two choices?
What if you make a sacrifice where it’s a decision made between your significant other and yourself? Maybe she asks you to go to an art museum when you were looking forward to some self-development activities. Yeah, you tell yourself that spending time with her is going to be far more valuable than your afternoon of self-improvement, but as you wander through the museum you can’t help but think of how you were going to be reading that book that’s been sitting on your desk, working on your flexibility, and meditating all for a better “you.” You’re enjoying your time with your favorite human, but you sacrificed your time in order to be together… and you’re not that big a fan of art museums anyways. BUT, you had a memorable time and happy that you could spend it with her.
So you sacrificed what time you were going to use in a “valuable” manner to benefit her happiness… which makes you happy. But let’s say it wasn’t an art museum, maybe she wanted to see a band that you can’t stand. You don’t even enjoy going to concerts. Let’s get creative and say it’s death metal, you’re going to have to dress in all goth, wear makeup, and assless chaps. Yeah, the pants where your brown eye pokes out. Obviously, that’s where you’d draw the line, right? No means no! But what if you talked yourself into it. You told yourself, “Hey, I look okay in assless chaps. Maybe this will be a fun time. She really wants to go, so because I love her, I’m gonna go. It means the world to her,” even though in your deepest part of your gut, you know it’s just not for you. Let’s just make the sacrifice and give it a shot…she really wants to spend time with me at this show, how bad can it be?
You get there and immediately you know you don’t want to be there. But is it because you’re being a Negative Nancy or is it because you aren’t being true to yourself?
This is the question I’m trying to work through – Where is the line? How much can we sacrifice and tell ourselves it’s growth, but at what point are we going against our gut instinct? Our instincts are all we have at the end of the day. You could lose everyone, lose your money, lose your ability to move, lose your language…and your mind, heart, and gut are all going to have their instincts that tell you the path you need to take. But it’s your job to listen.
When we ignore these instincts, these messages from our soul, it’s like putting a laugh track over a horrendous sitcom – it’s not funny but it’s an outside message trying to tell us to laugh.. so to follow along, you laugh. With all the outside influences we encounter daily, it’s hard to differentiate our own voice and the ones around us telling us what to do. There are so many times that I’ve personally ignored my own intuition, sacrificed my well-being to see someone else happy, and paid the price in the end. Truth be told, I wasn’t a good listener to myself. The voice was always talking, screaming, yelling to get my attention…but I listened outwardly instead of inward. The message was always there, it never changed, but I failed to hear it. When ignored, you end up unhappy, hurt, distracting yourself from what’s important…which can start to hurt the ones around you. I can’t say I actually planned on being in sales. Intuition didn’t put me here, my inability to listen did.
There’s only so much you can sacrifice before it peels away your layers. Peel away a few layers of an onion and you’ve got something with a lot of flavor that adds to the recipe. Continue to peel away the layers of the onion and you’ll have nothing left but tears and a mess on your counter. We’re no different than the onion, well… hopefully you smell better. There’s going to be something inside of you that tells you how much you can give without losing it all. You need to hear it, you need to be true to it. Many decisions should be meditated on, thought about, slept on, put on the shelf for a while before you can act on them. All 3 of your intuitions will eventually line up and give you the answer that will be true to you, but deciding to act large with very little thought and planning can end in disaster. Going “all-in” at the poker table before you’ve even looked at your cards is an insane move and rarely does it ever pay off.
So where is the line? No idea. I suppose it’s going to be different for everyone. Some people are going to be able to push in more of their chips because they’re a little more resilient to the failure. Some people have a little less to play with so it’s about playing it carefully. At the end of the day, we’re all different. People can manage stress better than others and see their life choices as a meaning to an end. Others need to feel purpose in each activity they engage in. Some people fire with a wide-pellet buckshot, others with a sniper rifle. We are all different and that’s what makes this life so beautiful.
Be different. You are not the person next to you. Sacrifice nothing, sacrifice it all, meet in the middle. Compromise with yourself. Sweep the leg. What? I don’t know. Do what makes you feel best and fuck the rest.