Brain trap #7: giving too much to others and too little to ourselves
Are you one of those people who get lost in making everyone else happy, and forget to make yourself happy?
Stuck with being a really nice and a good person to everyone in your life (or at least to loved ones)… to a level that you do not have time or the energy to be a good person towards yourself?
Don’t get me wrong – by all means, be a good person. And take care of others’ needs.
Just… be an equally good person to yourself, and take care of your needs too!
Are we focusing too much on others’ needs and too little on own needs?
Something strange happened in an evolution. Evolutionary, we are wired to survive. Meaning, wired to take care of our needs, but then also wanting to belong to the “tribe”, being loved and accepted by others, as that meant survival “in the old days”.
But… somehow, these days, for some of us (mothers often being an amazing example of this), the balance flipped a bit: we became really good at taking care of others and sometimes not as good at taking care of ourselves.
Is it related to many messages we receive from the media, movies, public, or sometimes even religion, that say that to be a “good person” we should sacrifice our needs for sake of others needs?
Or is it related to some deep beliefs that we are not good enough, not worthy?
Or just an attempt to avoid feeling selfish and self-centred?
I dunno where it is coming from… but I do know that I see it in many people around me, and that is coming at a really high cost on personal happiness and health.
Don’t worry – I am not saying you should ditch everyone and suddenly become a mean person – what I advocate instead is that for a happy, fulfilling life we should take care of BOTH our own needs and others needs (with limitation of what we can help them with and realising that some of it is their responsibility), with equal importance given to both.
How to improve own taking care of own needs vs. others’ needs?
This is really about strengthening relationship with ourselves – it is not about taking care of others less, but simply finding more balance between love and care for ourselves and others.
These are some of the ways in which we can do that:
• practice METTA – loving-kindness compassion meditation
• practice self-love meditation
• work on self-love, self-compassion, self-care – look for ideas under Pillar 4 – Being own best friend
• keep on asking the question “How can I serve their needs, while still taking care of my needs too?”
• often take a moment to ground and ask “What do I need?” and “What would make me happier right now?”
• do “Listening to my heart” meditation daily (blog post coming up on 11th of July 2019)
To be able to strengthen our self-care, we need to start from really listening to ourselves and understand what it is that we need. This might take a bit of time to develop, and it can be quite challenging to hear our own needs and wishes if we spent a long time without listening to them.
But equally important aspect of it is working on own beliefs that indeed we deserve to be heard, that we deserve to have our needs met, and that we deserve to be happy.
How about you?
Are you inclined to fall into a trap of neglecting own needs because of taking too much care of others?
How are you managing that, and how could you manage it even better?
Do share in comments – but also to start a conversation in our Positive Psychology Tribe virtual community for meaningful conversations.