Are you the kind of person that puts others’ needs before your own? Do you do it without even realizing it, and then end up frustrated, drained and unhappy at the end of the day.
A male client of mine called it “people pleasing” when talking about his own patterns of putting others’ needs before his own, to the point that he did not really know what his needs were anymore.
When we worked together using meditation-based techniques for inner exploration, he discovered that his energy was collapsing because deep inside he did not believe his needs would ever be met.
In fact, in this old belief system from childhood he thought that the only way he could get close to meeting his own needs was to meet the needs of others first. Of course, as soon as this was revealed to him, and he understood it with his adult mind, he was able to see it was a false belief and it was not serving him. But while it was unconscious it had made him very unwell.
Meeting your own needs first is a bit like the safety display on the airplane – you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help even your children.
“Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones.” Recognizing Caregiver Burnout, Webmd.com.
While caregiver burnout pertains specifically to people in the caregiving field of looking after an ill or elderly person in this definition, the same symptoms can occur for many people who are carer type of personalities and especially those in a field of humanities such as therapists and nurses and body workers and even Moms.
People who tend to care for others whether professionally or in their personal lives are sensitive, giving types who would often put their own needs last. This can lead to a type of burnout when life gets demanding.
As one of those people, I tend to find that when life is more stressful for one reason or another, that I revert to type. Meaning, that when I am under duress I am more likely to forget to look after my own needs and become hyper aware of the needs of those around me.
It is counter-intuitive really, but when under a lot of pressure, I have to be even more vigilent about awareness of my needs and meeting them. This takes effort, because I am working against an old pattern, but it is so worth it. When I do take care of my needs first, I am able to sail through those rough patches in a way that did not used to be possible.
Even people working in corporate or business roles can be challenged with putting their own needs first.
This happens especially when people are in a role requiring them to take care of everyone else on the team, or even feel pressured to put the workload first.
In fact, 64% of U.S. employees reported high levels of stress in 2014, with the leading source of stress as workload, according to a report published on Statistica.com.
The main reasons for stress at work in 2016 cited by employees was 36% workload, 31% people issues, 20% juggling work and personal life, according to the report by Statistica.
These results point to how conflicted many people are about their relationship to work, people and personal life. Essentially it shows how many people are finding it hard to meet their own needs under these work demands.
When we meet our needs first we are more full and able to give to others.
It is impossible to meet everyone’s needs around us, and then have our own needs met. This idea that we need to take care of others’ first can be a kind of bad habit that is easily developed – of course being a Mother or a parent, working in a caring profession, or just being the kind of person who feels others around them deeply.
Even those in a corporate environment without children can find themselves caught in this trap, because there are many many demands in the modern workplace today. And those with a caring and sensitive personality type will get drawn on by others and will notice what needs to be done.
I know for myself, I can often feel others’ discomfort in a space and in some ways it is a kind of control that I want to make them comfortable.
In some people’s eyes it might seem that putting everyone else’s needs first is almost saintly.
The belief says that we are good people if we put others first. This is a nice idea, except that it does not work out like that.
Again, I will use myself as an example – when I get into a habit of looking after others first, even my clients, then I am not happy and not fulfilled inside. In this situation my reserves get so drained that it does not take much time before I have nothing to give anyone.
In my 90 day program for women, The Creative Life Program, a lot of women share their experiences of being drained and discover old beliefs and patterns that have not served them to live the life they love.
I was surprised how many women face this as a major hurdle in creating their best life, when I did the research for this program, and then ran the program itself. I almost feel like it is a biological programming for some of us. I do not think it is every woman’s issue, but I certainly find a lot of women who face this in their lives, and even take some time to really understand that when they do things the opposite way around, taking care of themselves first, everyone benefits.
One woman that was in the program a couple of years ago had her ex husband of 10 years still living in the house and the divorce was not completed.
By the end of the program, she had figured out how to get him out of the house, get a divorce and even better a new boyfriend. I am so happy every time I see her shining face on social media now.
When you take care of yourself first, and then give from that fullness of being, you will be surprised how much creative joy comes naturally. Life starts to flow your way.
I am offering 10 gift 30-minute Discovery Calls for women who want to talk about turning the table on over giving, stepping into their creative genius and having a life that they love. Please sign up HERE for a session or send this article to someone who you know would benefit.