I was raised by older women who selflessly gave of themselves. Many of them gave up their happiness, dreams and in many cases their peace of mind for the sake of helping other people. Basically they came last in their own lives.
Some people will call this admirable, but I disagree. I think we’re meant to care about and help others when we can but not to the point where it robs from our own life force.
Women tend to give so much of themselves to the point where they lose themselves — they lose their identities. Later on in life, they look back at their years spent focused on sacrificing themselves to find that there’s nothing really to show for playing the role of a “martyr.” There are countless divorced women who sacrificed their careers and aspirations for marriage and kids only to find themselves struggling alone and unappreciated later on in life.
On what planet and in what universe is that fair? All of us are important and all of us deserve the pursuit of personal happiness and fulfillment.
Unfortunately, for much of my life I followed in the footsteps of this learned tradition, selflessly giving of myself to help others. It’s not until something life-changing happened to me that I realized no one else I knew would stick their neck out for me the way that I was willing to do for them.
And you know what, that was probably smart of them. They probably had a lot on their minds at the time as well.
I believe that each of us should be the center of our own Universe. We shouldn’t feel obligated to give so much of ourselves that it hurts. If we do for others it should be because we genuinely want to — not out of a sense of obligation.
So instead of holding into resentment toward people who won’t sacrifice for you, I think it’s so much more useful to turn the situation around and look at yourself. Here are a few tips for how to make yourself the center of your own Universe so that you can be happy and at peace with yourself and your decisions.
1) Take 15-20 minutes right now to answer this question “what do I need right now?” What do you need for yourself right now that will give you a boost? Write it down point by point. For example:
– I need to take better care of my health / workout
– I need to take myself out for a nice dinner
– I need to save up money to reach an important goal (no more lending — my money is my money)
– I need a vacation / getaway
– I need a massage / spa day
– I need new clothes or a new pair of comfortable shoes
– I need to quietly read a book on my lunch break (instead of listening to my co-worker go on and on about her relationship for an hour)
Now prioritize checking off this list over anything else that is going on in your life. You’ll find that as you check those things off you start to feel more important and alive. For you to help anyone else you need to be okay first.
2) Don’t ever give an immediate answer to a favor request from someone. Tell the person that you’ll think about it and get back to them at a later time. If they try to pressure you for an immediate answer, say no.
3) Before agreeing to do something for another person, ask yourself “would this put an unnecessary strain on ME?” Yes me, because ME matters. “Can I afford to do this and still be okay?” Also, “would this person do the same for me?” One of the keys to a healthy relationship with another person is reciprocity.
4) Understand that your opinion of yourself is the only one that really matters in the grand scheme of things. If someone doesn’t like you because you said no, that’s 100% their problem!
5) Start living your life from the inside out instead of from the outside in. What does that mean? Do you ever feel like you’re observing your life, actions, decisions and conversations as a third party observer? That you’re constantly thinking about what that other person is thinking about you? That you’re behaving the way you believe THEY would want you to behave? Think about it.
Be confident in who you are as an individual. Instead of looking at your life from the outside views of others, look at you from WITHIN. Are YOU happy with how you’re living? What do you think about yourself? This is where self-love comes from.
6) Be perfectly imperfect and proud of it. A lot of us are striving for perfection, which can never be achieved. Not to mention, one person’s idea of perfection differs from another’s. Understand that your imperfections are perfectly okay. Embrace them and cherish them — they’re part of you.
If you feel lost or drained by life, it’s probably because you’re not putting yourself first. Implement these tips for how to become the center of your own Universe starting today.
Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a self-help guide entitled Survive, Live or Thrive? and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.