Dear Reader,

Something I have often been told is my biggest problem is that I always put everyone else first.

And it’s not just by one person have I been told this, in fact In the last month ive been told this by 4 people.

I have to be honest and say I don’t really care about me, what is important to me is making sure everyone else is happy, even at my expense. I’m not an argumentative person really, I just want an easy life. I find it hard to say no in situations where someone needs help, this has often been used against me.

I swap shifts at work with people when I really don’t want to, I hang around with people when all I want to do is lie in bed. At university I would help people with all of their technical problems, id help them burn their work to DVDs, id explain how to use specific programs. Id go to my unpaid internship and do the same there and then I would teach classes freely because I knew about some of the equipment used then the paid teaching staff.

Last year was a big learning curve for me in the putting people first department. When I finished college and made the step up to university, I offered my free time to help out with the course I had just completed. The first year was fine, the second was ok, but by the third year I was becoming more and more angry. I was taking time out of my education to teach and to give free services and more and more was expected of me. My ideas were no longer being taken on board, which was upsetting, especially when I had a better knowledge of the course than the majority of the staff. I had sat through some of the lessons in that class for 5 years, I had seen them taught by more than one person. But my advice was not valid due to my lack of accreditation.This for me was a bit of a lesson in how sometimes I really am too nice for my own good. Upon leaving that place I truly realised how much better I felt. On the plus side, I have 3 years of teaching / classroom assistance experience.

Putting other people’s happiness first has probably contributed to my depression in some way, but it’s hard to change, especially when seeing people happy is really the only thing that makes me feel I’m doing a good job.

As Always,

The Elephant in the Room

4 thoughts on “Self-Sacrificial

  1. Very true, I doubt anything good will come of putting people before me, I think stress is the major affliction I get from doing it. I really do need to learn that sometimes I need to make sure I’m ok, before others are, those people are more likely to be able to care for themselves. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know this doesn’t really help, but it helped me when I realised how common it is for people to struggle with self-compassion.

      The students in my meditation class are all learning self-compassion and they have even had weekly homework the past few weeks to take little steps towards becoming more compassionate to themselves (which is obviously not the same as selfishness), whether that is taking a little time out when doing house chores, or allowing yourself a guilt-free break when you’ve worked hard, or having a hot bath when stressed in order to relax.

      These small steps are steps to developing the constructive habit of self-compassion. I have taken many years to become far more self-compassionate, and indeed I am still practising every week.

      It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we have certain behaviours, like compulsive selflessness, however these behaviours are habitual, meaning that they are second nature. So it isn’t easy to break these habits that have been around for decades. The good news is that modern psychology has proven that it’s possible to develop new habits. The way to do it is to keep practising something… this way it eventually becomes a habit. We can even learn to be more self-compassionate about learning to be more self-compassionate, i.e. be kind to ourselves when we fall in to the habit of saying “yes” to everyone else’s requests. I found learning to say “no” really started helping me.

      Putting others first is the most common personality trait I’ve seen in most people in depression.

      Liked by 1 person

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