Have you been experiencing challenges related to your continual sacrifice and prioritisation of others’ needs over your own? It is no wonder. Too often you are in roles where you are expected to provide emotional support and care for others, whether it is in your personal relationships, family dynamics, or professional settings. Often as women, you take on significant care giving roles within your families, whether it is caring for children, aging parents, or extended family members. You prioritise the needs of your loved ones neglecting your own self-care, leading to physical, emotional, and mental strain. You become fatigued by stressors related to racial and gender biases, discrimination, and the expectation to over-perform to prove your competence, i.e., taking on extra work or working long hours to navigate oppressive systems. Do you feel compelled to constantly educate others, advocate for social justice, and work towards equality to break through barriers leading to your emotional exhaustion and burnout? Do you feel a sense of responsibility to maintain harmony, avoid conflict, or cater to your partner’s emotional well-being at the expense of your own happiness?
“Caring for others requires caring for oneself” Dalai Lama
All too often, you are navigating all these things at once neglecting you!!! It is EXHAUSTING! It is critical to your well-being to know that while compassion and empathy are admirable qualities, it is equally crucial for you to set healthy boundaries, practice self-care, and prioritise your own well-being. You must be mindful and present with yourself and not operate on autopilot. Be consciously learning to navigate these dynamics in a healthier and more balanced way. Otherwise, you become emotionally and psychologically dependent on providing care and support to others and gaining their approval. This stems from a deep-rooted need for validation, self-worth, or a desire to avoid personal pain or emptiness. While your intentions are noble, this can lead to a series of problems. For example:
Burnout and emotional exhaustion are the result when you constantly put others’ needs ahead of your own. Your relentless self-sacrifice leads to burnout, decreased productivity, and a decline in your overall well-being.
Neglected personal relationships become strained as you devote excessive time and energy to help others or gain their approval. This neglect creates distance and resentment among family members, friends, and romantic partners.
Diminished self-Identity and emotional neglect create an internal struggle diminishing your sense of self. This self-neglect results in emotional detachment, decreased self-esteem, and an erosion of your personal identity.
Enabling dependency on you can create harmful cycles of dependency because of limited encouragement to be self-sufficient to develop the other person’s skills and independence.
Ignoring personal boundaries when helping others undermines their authority and limits their decision-making abilities. Gain their consent. If you do not, it will lead to discomfort, invasion of privacy, or even emotional harm.
Reinforcing co-dependency occurs when individuals rely on each other in dysfunctional ways, reinforcing unhealthy behaviors and preventing personal growth and independence.
Enabling destructive behaviour such as drug or alcohol addiction or other harmful habits without facing the consequences or seeking necessary help does more harm than good.
“Forgive yourself for what you think you have done or not done.
At every moment you had your reasons for all actions and decisions.
You’ve always done the best that you could do. Forgive yourself.” Doreen Virtue
It is important to note that while helping others can sometimes become harmful, it does not negate the value of genuine and appropriate support. Balancing empathy, compassion, and personal boundaries is key to ensuring that your actions provided are truly beneficial. You must challenge yourself to know the right path through awareness, acknowledgement, attention, intention, and action. To make a shift towards change, ensure you create an environment of:
Self-awareness, healthy boundaries, and realistic expectations is essential to avoid excessive self-sacrifice.
Self-care and personal well-being by engaging in activities that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being, such as, exercise, hobbies, and seeking support from loved ones and co-workers, can help restore balance and prevent burnout.
Self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness and empathy you extend to others is fundamental. Engaging in self-reflection, self-forgiveness, and practicing self-compassion techniques can foster personal growth and emotional healing.
You can overcome and be transformed to have a healthier expression of empathy, care, and gaining approval. By cultivating self-awareness, practicing self-care, and nurturing self-compassion, you can break free from the negative consequences of self-sacrifice over your own well-being. Ultimately, striking a balance between compassion for others and self-care leads to personal growth, improved relationships, and a more sustainable approach to helping others.