Whilst there is a feel good element to helping others, putting the needs of others over your own can have a significant emotional impact. It can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and burnout, as well as resentment or anger towards the people for whom you feel you are sacrificing your own needs, putting a strain on and impacting your relationships.
When you consistently prioritise the needs of others, you are neglecting your own well-being, which over time, this can lead to emotional exhaustion, and may even contribute to depression or other mental health issues.
Many of us struggle with the idea of putting ourselves first, many of us were raised to think we should always put others before ourselves and ignore our own needs, that if we didn't we were somehow arrogant or selfish.
Women in particular often put their own passions and interests on the back burner in favour of meeting the needs of others. Where does this come from and why do we do this? Here are a few reasons why:
Societal Expectations: Historically women have been socialised to prioritise the needs of others over their own. From a young age, girls may be taught to be nurturing and caretaking, which can lead to a tendency to put others first.
Gender Roles: Traditional gender roles often placed the responsibility for caregiving and household tasks on women, whilst we have made massive progress in this area there is still progress to be made, pursuing personal interests and passions is much harder when there is a limit on time and energy available.
Family Responsibilities: Women often juggle significant caregiving responsibilities for children, ageing parents, or other family members, which can make it challenging to prioritise their own needs and desires.
Guilt: Women often experience guilt or shame when they prioritise their own needs over those of others, meaning their own passions and interests on hold for fear of judgement or historical rhetoric that it is 'selfish'.
Lack of Support: Finally, some women may lack the support and resources necessary to pursue their own interests and passions. For example, if there is limited or lacking access to childcare, financial resources, or social support networks prioritising your own needs feels so much harder.
It's important to recognise that these societal, cultural, and personal factors can be complex and interrelated, and may vary depending on individual circumstances. However, by understanding some of the reasons why we may prioritise the needs of others over our own, we can start to accept that this is where we are, and through understanding and self compassion we are able to work towards creating a more equitable and supportive environment for change.
Ultimately, it is important to strike a balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. Awareness is the first step towards change, this means recognising the reality of your situation but also that your own needs are equally (if not more) important, even if it means saying no to others at times. It is time to change the rhetoric, self care isn't selfish, it is giving the world the 'best' of you rather than 'what's left' of you.
By prioritising your own needs, and unlocking your inner strength you will be better able to care for others and maintain healthy relationships with both others and yourself.
If you have any thoughts or comments please leave them below, I would love to hear your views.
If you feel you are putting your own interests and passions on the back-burner in favour of meeting the needs of others and would like a little support in finding you again book an appointment. I offer a safe space for you to explore your emotions, gain clarity, and develop strategies for moving forward. Whether you're struggling with self esteem, self confidence, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, or simply looking for personal growth and self-improvement, I'm here to support you on your journey towards healing and well-being.