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Service or Sacrifice?

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day regarding the idea that I so often talk about that it is your job to take care of you.  The objection was brought up to the message I give and the idea that what I am saying is to put yourself first, above everyone else.  This is a common misconception.  Let me explain….

Have you thought that it was selfish to think of yourself first?  Most of us are led to believe that it is noble to put ourselves last, and to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others is normal.  Of course it is good to be helpful, to assist others, and to serve them to a certain extent.  But the question to ask yourself is when does service to others turn into unhealthy sacrifice?  How would you know if your own service to your family, your employer or your friends has crossed that line?  I will give you a very easy way to tell if you have put yourself too low on the priority list…check in with yourself and see what your feelings are telling you.  They are a great guide!

If you are tired most of the time, if you are growing increasingly more resentful of those around you, if you are angry or frustrated with the level of service you are giving, if you feel guilty for feeling this way, and think that you are a bad person for not serving with a happy heart, that is not because you are a bad person, is is because you are not replenishing yourself, first.  It is like violating what they tell you on every airplane flight, “Should the cabin lose air pressure, put your mask on first, then help those around you.”  In order to effectively serve others we have to give ourselves breathing room too.  Let your feelings be your guide…that is when you know you have crossed the line from service into unhealthy sacrifice.  

If you feel this is you, you might be wondering, “How can I reverse this cycle?”  That is a good question and that is where taking care of you comes in to the picture.  Most of us are so far over on the side of sacrifice over self, that to start taking care of ourselves is not only NOT selfish, it is necessary.  So you can let go of the idea that you are selfish, and focus on the idea that it is necessary to take care of you.  You can start by setting boundaries and making time for yourself.

I am almost finished with a 6 part home-study course called Focus On You:Your Needs Matter Too that I have made with Dr. Michael Woulas, a psychotherapist, that deals specifically with the topic of meeting your own needs and being able to release the fear and guilt that is so common and comes when you start to focus a little more on you, and a little less on others.  It will be released, hopefully, before the end of the year.  After taking this course you’ll have the tools you need to release that unhealthy guilt and fear and you’ll be able to start taking the steps you need to take to get more balance back into your life.  

If you have questions about the program or about this concept in general feel free to email me at apriloleary@gmail.com and I’ll respond as best I can.  Remember, it’s not selfish to take care of you!

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