Find Serenity By Not Over-Giving

find serenity

Gail’s Struggle with Finding and Losing Serenity

I recently got this letter: “Dear Dr. Diana, I have done the Spiritual Diamond Self work from your book, Love in 90 Days, and it was a magical experience to come up with “Caring Emissary of the Light” as my spiritual nickname. I really was able to find serenity and stillness of mind!
But sometimes it is very hard to hold on to this identity, as people disappoint me right and left. It is so easy for me to get into being resentful and full of self-pity. Also, in the past, I have over-given and functioned as a codependent people-pleaser. How do I tell the difference between being of service and over-giving so that I can find serenity?”
Gail in San Francisco

Gail, when you are giving from a spiritual place or your Higher Self you are refreshed and re-energized. You are more likely to find serenity and your actions will more often result in a win-win. You are winning your own respect, and usually (but not always), others are appreciative of your efforts. This kind of service is NOT about people-pleasing. It is about feeling what is intuitively helpful—doing the right action or non-action for all concerned.

Service to Others Through Non-Action

For example, you might not win the popularity award when you are doing service to a loved one by giving them the chance to fail or hit bottom. Or by not preventing them from making a mistake so they can learn consequences. Or by co-dependency. These types of non-action will teach you the precious gift of detachment, which is a cornerstone of serenity. Your loved ones might not be happy with you or they may be downright angry!  But, as they hit bottom and have their own awakening, they will be grateful that you did not meddle in their affairs.

Self-care, setting boundaries, maintaining your own serenity and giving yourself time-outs to take care of your needs are part of the healthy service equation. Your needs matter. In order to truly be of service you need to ask for self-fulfillment as well as for fulfillment for others. When you are truly of service, your needs are taken care of and you feel good and complete. And that’s how you find and keep serenity.

Co-Dependency is Not Service to Others

On the other hand, when you are giving out of co-dependency you will tend to feel like you ALWAYS have to be the savior, nurturer, advisor, helper, and the one to prevent loved ones from experiencing the consequences of their irresponsible behaviors. You have a strong compulsion to give them what they say they want or need. Or what you think they really need. This is a true COMPULSION and you do not feel like you have much choice in the matter. You also tend to worry or OBSESS about others’ problems. As a result you lose your inner peace and serenity.

When you are codependent you feel empty, exhausted, and sucked dry. Self-pity and resentment are a big part of the picture for you because you feel taken for granted, disrespected, used, or abused.

Bottom line

When you are codependent, you may feel good about giving in the short term. But there is always some boomerang. Where you’re hurt and disappointed. And ultimately you feel exploited. Does this sound familiar?

So do yourself a favor. Stop playing God or Higher Power or Miss I-Know-What’s-Best-for-Others. Before you go into action to help others, pause and listen for the faint voice of your intuition, the voice of your spiritual identity. This will protect your own serenity and create even more benefit for your loved ones. Often in surprising and magical ways that you personally could never foresee!

For lots more on creating more serenity in your life, keep reading articles on spiritual practice right here.


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Dr. Diana Kirschner

Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a relationship advice expert, frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show and the creator of a globally available dating coach and Love Mentor® program. Dr. Diana is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed best-selling relationship and dating book, “Love in 90 Days”. Love in 90 Days was the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter.

“Diana Kirschner’s work is life-changing, love-affirming and wonderfully effective.”
~Dr. Christiane Northrup, Internationally bestselling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.


  1. BUDDHA DHARMA on February 26, 2014 at 3:57 am

    OM A RA PA TSA NA DHI Great psychological advice for everyone , from my dearest friend dr. Diana . ✿♥✿♥ Many Mahayana Buddhists will discover new insights about themselves (especially women) , to be overgiving and codependent. Because nowdays Mahayana is understood always taking care of others and neglecting oneself . Wishing you great love and serenity ✿♥✿♥

  2. amber on March 29, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I have a question. My boyfriend and i have been together for over a year. We dated when we were much younger and chose seperate paths. We are now together and very happy…..but there’s a small problem. Lately we just don’t have sex. Everything else is exactly the same. Am i headed for disaster?

  3. Dr. Diana Kirschner on April 24, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Dear Amber,
    Sex is very important for bonding, closeness and keeping that special feeling of being in love. So you have a problem. Pick up a copy of Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love and read especially the sections on how to “create an affair” with your spouse or partner. See if you can have an honest sharing conversation with your boyfriend about your concerns.
    Wishing you love,

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