You like to be generous, thoughtful of others, remembering their birthdays, helping them out in a pinch and just generally XTC being there for them. Sometimes, you feel a little overloaded and, yes, sometimes you're taken advantage of. But mostly you don't mind, because the satisfaction of giving outweighs the disappointment in their thoughtlessness. And, anyway, you like having a loving nature.
A loving nature is fine, but a loving nature can turn into a resentful nature if it runs on overload too long. When you let people continually take advantage of you, you send a subtle message to yourself (and them) that they are more valuable, more worthy of loving attention and respect than you are. And you send a clear message to them that they have permission to continue to treat you that way.
So how do you handle things? By seeking a balance:
* Give yourself permission to say "no" to those who have repeatedly taken advantage of you. And remind yourself that you are not helping them develop a loving, thoughtful nature by giving in to them.
* Do some good things for yourself -- a little time spent just on you. Go for a walk, visit a museum, start that exercise class -- anything that makes you feel well-treated and respected.
And, keep in mind, it's great to remember others' birthdays, but don't forget your own. After all, you are just as valuable as they are, so give yourself a little present just to show appreciation.
Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.