It sounds like nothing major has changed in your life. You still live near family and friends, you work, and you are a kind and generous person with your time and skills. It doesn’t sound like your life responsibilities have increased, yet you are feeling hurried and irritable. Ironically, your extreme generosity may be the root of your problem. How could being so nice and being such a good friend lead to unhappiness?
One clue is that you say that you give a lot more to others than they seem to give back to you. Certainly it is not a negative thing to be a giving person. We strive to be generous and we admire people who are giving. However, it is possible to give too much. One way to tell if you are giving too much is if you find that you don’t have enough time to run your own life. You may be giving so much to others that there is not enough time or energy left for you. Another way to tell that we may be doing too much for other people is when we get irritated with them for no particular reason.
We may or may not be aware of the toll it is taking on us to give so much but over time the results of that over-giving accumulate. You may start to feel “burned out” or taken advantage of by friends and family. It’s hard to see our own role in this dynamic, but we are actually teaching our friends and loved ones to turn to us all the time because we never say “no” or set limits on what they can expect of us.
This is not their fault or even your fault; it is just what happens. There are a few things you can do that will improve the situation and probably greatly reduce your irritability:
1) Really take stock of what your responsibilities are and how much time it requires to take care of your own business;
2) Talk to your friends as the opportunity arises about the fact that you have been over-extended and may sometimes need to say “no” to some of their requests. Ask for their understanding and support in helping you get your priorities back on track;
3) Keep doing things for your friends and family, as long as you genuinely feel good about what you are doing and not going to feel resentment after the fact.
You don’t have to give up on being a generous person to make your life happier and more manageable. Just taking better care of yourself can go a long way toward increasing your happiness and decreasing your annoyance with others.