Recently a friend of Lisa’s shared with her a concept she’d read in a book called “Burnout”. It contextualised so much of what she sees as the struggle so many women in her community have.
It’s called “Human Giver Syndrome” and it’s rife amongst women and mothers.
It’s also largely invisible to us because we’ve been conditioned to believe it’s ‘the norm’.
This episode explores exactly what Human Giver Syndrome is and why women feel so much resistance to giving to themselves.
Lisa delves into the very real consequences of this and how you can start to shift out of it. With ease. She also invited you in to the Feel Good NOW Challenge which is kicking off very soon and if this episode resonates with you in any way you’re going to LOVE the Challenge.
Join the Feel Good Now Challenge – a brand new free experience with Lisa FULL of practical ideas and brain-based know-how on how to shift to feeling good without waiting for anything to change first.
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Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I’m really glad that you’re here. And I’m going to go and encourage you to sign up for a brand new, totally free experience with me. And that is what I like to call hashtag FGN, but it’s also called the Feel Good Now challenge. And it’s something that I’m going to be talking a little bit about today in the context of something a friend shared with me recently that she read in a book. You’d better believe I’ve gone and ordered this book. It’s going to blow your mind. And it’s going to make you feel a little less alone when it comes to understanding why as women, as a collective, we’ve conditioned ourselves to be giving, giving, giving, giving, giving to everyone else and kind of forgetting how to do the same thing for ourselves.
Honestly, the stuff that she shared with me, it just put into context… Well no, literally these twin sisters, Emily and Amelia Nagoski who have written a book called Burnout have actually put it in a book. It’s in a book so it’s real. It’s something that so many people are experiencing. So many people are reading this and feeling really, really validated in terms of the experience that they’re having in this lifetime. As a woman, as a mother, all the things.
So let me introduce you to the concept of human giver syndrome. So this is what the authors have coined as the term to describe the cultural expectation that women are just going to give and give and give until they’ve got nothing left. Now, I can’t see you, but I’m asking you to put your hand up if you’ve ever felt like this. Like, Oh my gosh, I’ve got nothing left. There’s nothing left for me. People tell me this all the time. “I’m sorry, I’ve got no time to do this one thing.” I know in the upcoming Feel Good Now challenge, people will be like, “Oh, I don’t have time for this.” Like what do you mean? You don’t have time to feel good right now and watch a few short videos about how to do that? Can we get real? Can we get real about how maxed out you are in your life, doing things very often for other people.
But here’s the thing. It’s not just you. This is a huge, huge problem for a lot of women. And here’s the thing about human giver syndrome. They actually say it’s contagious. It’s false, but it’s contagious. And it’s this belief that certain people, and they’re usually women, have this kind of almost like a moral obligation to be attractive, happy, calm, generous, very attentive to the needs of other people. So these are what they call the human givers. There’s also human beings. And the beings are more competitive, more infallible, they’re never wrong. They’re human beings, they’re acquisitive. And we, so many of us, sit in this giver camp where we’re not these solid human beings. It’s this conditioning that we’ve grown up with, around being a giving person. Giving literally until you’re empty. And the title of the book is Burnout. But it’s almost like that’s your obligation. That’s what is expected of you. And it it’s so damaging, because a lot of the times we can’t even see that this is something we have been conditioned into. Throughout history, it’s not always been this way.
In some cultures, women are revered. When you’re bleeding, it’s not expected for you to continue on and March forward, show up to work, do all the things. It’s like, well no, that’s a very special time and your body is going through something and we need to honour that, it’s special. There’s so many different experiences of life that we can have. And we have been conditioned into this, the woman, the mother is a giver. There’s this expectation that there is no limit to the amount that you give. That claiming anything for yourself is almost wrong. It’s considered selfish, right? How do you talk about it to yourself? “Well, I couldn’t possibly, I mean, once everyone’s taken care of, well then I can do that.”
Or we take our kids to all the extracurriculars and it’s like, “Well maybe when spring comes, I’ll join up to a gym or start that Pilates class or whatever.” It’s like, we don’t even know this place that were working from. It’s totally invisible to us. And in my programme, Ready for Change, where we talk about dismantling all of these stories that sit at our subconscious, that we don’t even know that they’re there, but we’re operating from them 90% of the time. When we actually start looking there, one of the things that I get them to do is to… Members have to really look at what they believe about certain things, even about motherhood. What makes a good mum? And oftentimes, it’s that she takes care of people. She’s a giver. There’s a selflessness to this whole role of motherhood, which is fine and makes total sense unless there’s no balance in it, unless there’s nothing coming back in.
I mean, we try to break this down in our lives. And we see this in the inequity that exists in the workforce and what is going on at homes. So if both partners are working full time, the woman still has the major load at home. And you might be an exception to that, and that’s awesome. But the statistics show overwhelmingly that women take on the majority of things at home and they’re expected to commit a hundred percent to work. And they take on most of the mental load when it comes to their children.
I’m not making this up, this is what we’re fed in statistics everywhere. And so then this woman who’s trying to do all of this, where’s her space? To just start those dance classes that she’s been meaning to get to, or create space to learn the thing that she actually really wants to do, to help shift her into a career that might’ve made sense when she was 18, but certainly doesn’t make sense now that she’s in her forties and might have children. Or has a completely different set of values now.
How does she do it? When our conditioning almost makes it wrong for us, we feel that internally. And we feel judged by other people when it comes to doing things for ourselves that just make us feel good. That get us more on a path to feeling aligned with the life that we want to lead right now. And I love that these women are highlighting almost the punishment that we get. As self identified and societally expected human givers, for participating in things that aren’t considered giving to other people, but in fact are giving to ourselves. I bet you can start to feel that, “Oh yeah. Well, yes, I feel that.” Or, “Well no, I have an exercise regime that I’m committed to, I give to myself.” But it’s deeper than that. It comes to the core of what it means to be, ‘a good woman, a good mum.’.
We feel a huge resistance. I have women telling me all the time in my programmes. “I can’t just go ahead and quit my job and start that PhD, I can’t.” Or “I have to keep doing this because what would happen to my kids if I just stopped doing the dishes?” What would happen? I don’t know. Maybe someone else would do it? “I’ve got no time.” Why do you have no time? Why? Let’s really start to ask ourselves these bigger questions. Because here’s what I think. And this is what I’ve believed for a really, really long time and taught for a really, really long time. Those big things, the big implications that come off the back of this, which is… A generation of women who will not be fully realised because they’re so empty.
Because our expectation is to be giving to other people before ourselves. Unrealized potential that the world needs right now, the world needs women. It needs us. And we’re so depleted. We can’t even engage a lot of the time. That’s not right, surely? And this is not to say, there’s not seasons that are more intense. I’m not going to say that, we can all just forget everyone around us that we love. It’s not about that. I’m never about that. What I am about is figuring out how to make it simpler for us, to start doing the little things that make us feel good each day. That might not make sense in the context of being a giving machine. When you start to just ask yourself, this is what I did for a really long time, and I still do, what does Lisa need to feel good today?
What do you need to feel good today? What would actually feel good? I’m not talking about you being good. I’m talking about you feeling good. What might that be? For me, I’m just going to give you a few examples. I feel really, good making the decision. I would very, very rarely answer my phone after 7:00 PM. Yeah 7:00 PM, start the reading and kids off to bed. And they’re usually down by eight. And I don’t want to talk to people. After that time, I’ll get back to you. It’s like this really nice little healthy boundary I have with myself. Sometimes I’ll absolutely pick up the phone. But I have no expectation for myself. It’s actually just a really little way that I honour the space that I need in my life to just decompress from my day and give to myself. I can ask myself what I want to do every single night, because that’s my time. It’s beautiful.
What about the fact that sometimes, instead of coming back and getting on top of the breakfast dishes, that I might not have had time to tidy up, I’ll just go and sit in a cafe and smash out work for an hour with my laptop, having coffee, maybe having some breakfast. Might’ve been a delicious BLT today. And I’ve just given something to myself. Doesn’t have to be big. It was just not getting the takeaway and getting home and sipping it, popping it back on the kitchen bench and getting organised or listening to work messages while I was making sure that the kitchen was tidy. It was just opening up my notebook, writing out a to do list, checking in on some emails, just casually… Just I’m surrounded by people, a bit of buzz. So amazing, I’m still not over the fact that I get to do that after our COVID lockdowns for seven months last year.
And I’m giving to myself. And it starts this little chain reaction where suddenly I’m putting on the fancy skirt, even though I’ve really got nowhere to go, except school pickup and drop off. And sitting at my desk and working for the day. Feels good, it feels really good to not just leave those nice skirts for the fancy occasions. It’s on a Friday, with kids begging for play dates and wanting everyone over. I actually just decide to invite a friend over and sit in the back garden. The kids can do what they want really. But I’m going to have a chat with my friend. We can order what we want from Uber Eats. That’s what we end up deciding. And the kids can have their moment, but I really needed to connect in with someone. I really didn’t need a house filled with children that night.
Sometimes I just walk without anything in my ears, without it being purposeful, just so I can be silent with myself. Listen to the sounds, smell the air, no inputs, because it’s rejuvenating to me. I have given myself the chance to explore what it feels like to go for a walk. Put on my sneakers and go for a walk and not have it be for anything. Just that I needed to just have a little bit of silence and be with myself and just enjoy some sunshine. You see how that’s different to what we normally do? “Oh I can use the time for this walk to listen to this.” Which is also fine. I absolutely walk and listen to music or podcasts or whatever. Absolutely, do your thing. But just be sure that you’re creating some space for yourself. When we’ve got human giver syndrome, which so many of us have, we’re usually always on our way to something. And so often it’s for other people.
And to start to turn that around for ourselves, you’re not alone if you actually struggle with that. Because it’s this conditioning that we’re a part of. It’s not just you, it’s so many of us. But I think it’s kind of time, don’t you? To start to work out what makes us feel good? To not have it feel like a huge, massive thing that we need to turn around. But there are these small micro things that when we start to do them, we start to show ourselves, well maybe it’s possible to give from a place of not depletion, but being filled up.
How can I fulfil myself literally? Because the thing is, no one’s going to do it for us you guys, they’re not. If we want to change the conditioning, for our children, then we have to change it within ourselves. We’re in such an amazing time right now, can’t you feel it? That there’s just a shift going on. We’re having bigger conversations about this stuff. We’re not willing to keep accepting the BS status quo. And it’s going to cause some resistance, because who are we to just book in some time for ourselves? Or who are we to feel ridiculously happy? Who are we to feel good?
Well, my question to you is, who are you not to? You have given breath and life, and we don’t know how long we’ve got. And we wait, always this perpetual waiting situation. To when everyone else is sorted or when certain aspects of our life is sorted. Well then we can focus on ourselves or then we can do the thing that’s calling to us. And I’m here to call BS on that. And we’re going to be diving deep into it. And you are going to start experimenting with feeling good right now, in my upcoming challenge, that I am so excited to share with as many women as possible. It’s totally free. You can go and register for it right now, the link is in the show notes. I want you to make sure that you’re a part of this experience if you’ve got human giver syndrome and it feels really crazy that you don’t even know how to switch this around for yourself, it’s okay.
I’m so glad my friend shared this concept with me, that’s been coined by these sisters. I can’t wait to read the book because it contextualises what so many of us are feeling right now. But you know, who are we not to feel good in our lives? No matter what’s happening, no matter what our body feels like or looks like. No matter our home situation, our work situation, how old our kids are. There’s ways to do it. And the spin-off effects are freaking amazing. So get yourself on the train. I’ll see you inside the challenge and I’ll see you in the next episode.
Hey, what if it was way simpler than you thought to feel good right now? That’s what we’re exploring in a brand new free five-day experience with me. Listen to me right now, you do not have to wait for anything to change to feel good. Nope. You don’t have to lose a dress size. May your dream partner have more money in your bank account, or have kids that sleep through the night. Stop waiting and start feeling good. I’ve got all the tools and resources ready in what will be a hugely transformational week just for you.
I know you deserve to feel good. Do you? Register to join me at lisacorduff.com/feelgood. I cannot wait to see you there.
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