Are You An Innie Or An Outie?

No, I’m not talking about your belly button. I am talking about your benevolence. Does your disposition to do good, your generosity and acts of kindness towards others generate from an inward need or an (outward need) to make a difference in the world around you?


[buh-nev-uh-luhns noun


desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness: to befilled with benevolence toward 
one's fellow creatures.

an act of kindness; a charitable gift.

I used to think that I was outwardly focused because most of my life has been spent filling a hostess role, making people feel comfortable and at ease. Since I was a little girl, I have always loved bringing people together, usually centered on food or games. I can remember bugging my mom to invite her friends over for dinner and cards, because I wanted to be where the party was and knowing if it was at our house, I could be part of it.

When I grew up, opening my home and heart to others via eating, drinking and being merry was always a goal. It has forever been within my comfort zone to entertain and something I thoroughly enjoy doing. The time I spent organizing for the event, cleaning the house and preparing the food has always been a labor of love for me.
But I have come to realize that all this entertaining was still very much inwardly focused. It was still about me, and what I needed. I got just as much enjoyment out of hostessing and entertaining as my guests did in being taken care of. Which means I wasn’t being benevolent, as much as I was fulfilling my inner desire to feel needed.
My focus began to shift when I met Sadie, when I opened myself up to a person I barely knew, and literally shared my home and my heart. I have grown in ways I never expected, which explains why we now have a third son, Jeffrey. My focus, which had always been inward, shifted to consider the needs first of someone else, someone outside of my “zone”, and eventually grew to include others.
For years, the well being of my family was of utmost importance to me. I grew up believing that my mission was to take care of not only myself, but also those I love. To me that meant I would do my best to ensure I was never a burden, that I never needed a handout, that my family’s well being was my responsibility. I was so focused on that goal; I missed many opportunities along the way to give back, to enrich my life by reaching out to others. I finally listened to my inner voice when I met Sadie, and took a chance on reaching out. First, I realized I could make a difference in her life by giving her a safe place to live, undoubtedly the easiest part, and by helping her to get out of the immediate trouble she was in. What ultimately happened is something I didn’t forsee, I realized that it wasn’t enough just to share my material riches. To truly give back with an outward focus, I needed to share something even more precious: my heart.
Helping Sadie to recognize and believe in her own potential is definitely the hard part. My focus began to turn outward when I starting leading by example, imparting wisdom I didn’t know I had through my actions and words.  And here's the difference, without expecting anything in return. If I was simply being an innie and doing it for me, I would have stopped at sharing my home. Learning to share my heart, has taken more patience, faith and strength than I ever knew I had. Making me realize that true benevolence isn’t just about sharing money, or material things; it’s giving of yourself because it is the right thing to do, without expecting anything in return. 
The good news for innies who wish to be outies, is that it is never too late. Listen to that voice inside and don’t be afraid to begin a practice of generosity, even if it starts with baby steps. The great thing is, my growing “outie” focus has changed not only me, but also those in my immediate and extended family, and my hope is that it will continue to move me (and them) in positive and useful ways.
So I ask you, are you an innie or an outie?
Sadie & Jeffrey