Most of the women I know pour out their love, their energy and their hearts to help family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and sometimes even strangers, often without being asked. There always seems to be a good reason for them to put others first. Does this sound familiar? If not, you have good advice to share with us. If, however, you struggle with putting your needs ahead of (or at least on par with) the needs of others, you are not alone.
Last month, a friend (let’s call her Eve) told me that she never finds time to do the things that she really wants to do. Eve explained that her family and friends are very social and busy people, and they expect her to be involved in their plans. The moment Eve realized that she was critically examining how her time is spent, she stopped mid-sentence and quickly dismissed her frustration. “I have so much in my life. Why should I spend time focusing on me and what I need?”
I am sad to say that I was not surprised at this unusual twist of logic. Eve is so out-of-touch with her own needs that she hardly believes she has any. I understand. Eve believes that self-love is self-indulgent. I understand that, too. Several years ago my friend Elizabeth shocked me into awareness with these words — “Do not worship at the altar of self-sacrifice.”
We all have responsibilities to those we love and of course we are happy to honor them. It is also true, however, that we cannot be expected to love others more than we love ourselves. We can choose to invest our precious energy in helping those around us, but we can also choose to preserve a bit of that energy for ourselves. It is a question of balance, a question of self-love versus self-sacrifice.
I humbly suggest that you spend a few minutes each day asking yourself how you are demonstrating that you love and respect yourself. If no examples come to mind, perhaps you can consider committing to love yourself at least as much as you love others. It may be a commitment that changes your life.