This article is primarily for women, as studies show that the female species are more inclined to take on prosocial behavior (selflessness) than men. In relationships with your partner, parents and friends, do you feel that you are giving too much of yourself?
Here are signs that the give-and-take in your relationships is extremely unequal, patently tilted with you giving too much of your emotions, effort, time and money to other people:
You’re always saying sorry.
Sounds familiar? You say sorry to your partner when you want to speak up, sorry to your friend for arriving a few minutes late, sorry to your father when you’re not planning to obey his wish.
You don’t have an opinion.
You don’t offer a choice even on mundane matters such as choosing a restaurant or a movie and you let the other person decide. You have no views of your own when in a discussion and go along with what the others want to make them happy.
You steer clear of confrontations.
While we all hate arguments, your over- selflessness is turning you into a pushover who agrees to anything and everything to avoid annoying your co-worker, close friend or significant other.
You feel that you’re drained and stretched too thin.
You’re always attending to other people’s needs, whether it’s your sibling dropping off her kids at your house, or your boss swamping you with reports to make, or your partner who wants you to cancel your own plans to meet their needs.
You’re unhappy and resentful but keep it to yourself.
Deep inside, you are peeved at your own selflessness and being at the beck and call of everyone all the time. You have no time for your own wants or interests.
The Negative Aftermath of Being Too Selfless
You’ll resent yourself and others.
When you are always putting your parents’ wishes or your partner’s needs before your own, in time you feel resentment because you’re too busy giving in to them that you are not able to fulfill your own dreams. You get angry thinking about all you have done for them, and they don’t reciprocate with the same intensity.
These negative emotions take their toll on your physical and mental health. When you forget about your needs, you’re at risk for illness and fatigue. You also feel burned out, melancholic, and morose.
You’ll be used and abused.
You grant every favor your friend asks of you, enroll in a course that your parents want to please them, and you drop everything to cater to the wishes and needs of your partner. When saying “yes” is your default response, these people will take advantage of your generosity with your time and effort and abuse your goodness.
You set yourself up for disappointment because of unrealistic expectations.
You presume your family and friends will be as generous and selfless as you are. When they turn out not to be so, you get offended and unhappy. But the problem starts because you didn’t set boundaries, yet you expect them to treat you the same way you treat them. When they don’t measure up to your expectations, you feel disappointed and resentful.
You’ll be perceived as weak and inferior.
When you’re always volunteering to do all the tasks, or agreeing to everything others say, the people in your life can easily get used to it and will depend on you to take care of things. You subordinate yourself to others so that they tend to see and treat you as inferior to them.
What You Can Do
Begin with self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up if you ordered take-out for dinner because you were too tired to cook. Learn to say “No” to a request if you’re not up to granting it.
Meditate daily for 20 minutes. You’ll find inner calm and the courage to be more confident and assertive.
Be honest with your partner or friends and decline an invitation to go with them if you have something else planned.
Take care of your physical self. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy. Exercise. Set aside a “me” time.
Kindness and generosity starts with you. Then you’ll be better able to spread them to others.