Self care?!? I’m too busy caring for everyone else!
Anyone feel like they constantly seem to be doing things for others and have no time for themselves?
That your needs are always pushed aside?
This can be exhausting!
I work with many people saying just these things and that it’s always been their role in the family or friendship group to be there for everyone, to listen to everyone’s problems and do things for them.
This can be the case for so many people in their families, at work and with friends.
Please don’t think I’m saying helping people is bad, I’m not, I wouldn’t be doing this job if I thought that, but it can become out of balance. When we are helping people so much that it becomes detrimental to our own wellbeing we know that things aren’t quite right.
The key is that if we have too much on or are run down we can say that were not able to help without the guilt swallowing us whole.
Healthy caring and helping is done partly because we care about those we are helping, partly to feel good about ourselves for doing something nice, and partly to gain praise from others on what we’ve done, most of us enjoy all of those things.
The challenge comes when any of these become too heavily weighted, when our sense of self worth is low and we only feel good about ourselves when we help. When we can’t see why anyone would love us unless we are doing everything for them. When we get to this point we often feel so trapped by our need to help that we stop enjoying it, we feel resentment towards those that we are helping as the love and thanks we are getting is conditional. We never give those around us the chance to prove their unconditional love and so constantly feel like we are lacking something.
We can also start to feel depleted and want others to help us the way we help them, but unless they have equally unhealthy boundaries they won’t be able to do what we need. Interestingly those of us in full helper/carer mode often wont even accept help when it’s offered despite feeling resentful that we don’t get it. If we did that we would loose our label and crown of being the one who helps everyone else.
This can be hard to hear for many who help and care for others, we often like the idea of it being self less and because we are inheriantly good people but the truth is its often driven by a need to gain love.
If this resonates with you there are a couple of things you can do to try and return to balance. Firstly tune in to your own needs and wants, give them space and permission to be there. If we have neglected our own needs for a long time we can feel that they are wrong and selfish. So challenge that, why are others needs any more important than your own?
Secondly you can consciously watch for this pattern playing out and change the dynamics of your relationships so you are not giving more than you are getting. Try saying ‘no’ to things when it would be better for you not to do something or voice your needs and wants when making plans. If this fills you with anxiety and guilt start small like when deciding with friends which restaurant to eat at, rather than saying you ‘don’t mind’ speak up about the place you actually want to go to. If this still feels completely unachievable it may be worth working with a therapist to look at where you learn that voicing your own needs wasn’t ok.
Sometimes when we start saying no and voicing our own wants those around us can be caught off balance slightly and may challenge it, but if we stick with it most will come around and if they don’t, we probably don’t want someone who isn’t ok with us meeting our own needs in our life anyway.
I know this can be hard and so please do seek help with this if you need it, I have made this transition myself and so I hear and understand your doubts and fears. The ironic thing is that now I make looking after myself a priority I can be of better help to those around me, I can be more consistent, I don’t resent them and I don’t over step the mark with my need to help them whether they want it or not.
Self love and worth also comes into this and I’ll be blogging about that in the near future.
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