There's an apt quote for this blog. Don't set yourself on fire to keep others warm.
I'll come back to the quote later.
For those who have realised they have it the wrong way round - this article will serve as confirmation. For those who have not yet realised - do not worry - it is never too late.
I'll make a comparison for you. I'll make the comparison with money and savings. This article is not about money and savings but it is something that most of you can relate to. People are in two camps. There are those who say that they will save the money they have left over, right before they next get paid. Then there are those who say I'll put some money aside into savings as soon as I get paid. The first people spend the money and then there is generally nothing left at the end for saving. This isn't their fault, this is human nature. This means that those who put money by, as soon as they are paid, will have savings. Those who don't will have none, or very little, savings.
The answer is to change to be the second type of person. This too happens with other concepts - like time. We all have the same amount of time in life, but what we can get done varies hugely. The same goes for effort and energy. So it is all about your approach.
Are you one of these people?
Now I want to help you to realise how you have got it the wrong way round. You are not alone - it is what the majority of us do. In my experience this is especially true of certain personalities. For example ENFP and INFP on the Myers Briggs system. It is not limited to these personalities but they are more prone to it in my experience. These people have wonderful traits. They are extremely well meaning and considerate - but that backfires on them. It is most evident with parents, and within parents it is most evident within the mother. Single/childless people fall into this trap too. You hear the ones who say they 'don't have time' (which makes those with children wonder how they don't).
What happens is you want to look out for others. At best, you say you will give to yourself when you are sure that you have done your best for others. At worst you don't even consider yourself. Either way, this means that you are giving everything to your job, your kids, your parents, your partner, your friends and so on. And when you have a minute you intend to give it to yourself. Now back to the money analogy. If you understood the above analogy you will realise that there never will be anything left for you. You don't ever get that minute.
Research tells us that you may start to realise when you are 50 that you have not given to yourself. So that means you have spent all those years waiting. Have you considered this? Or if you now stop and consider this : consider the effect this has on you.
The Effect of this Flaw
So your intention is to consider others. Your intention is to do your best to make sure others are happy. Most especially we see this in parenting. For more detailed help with parenting head to Positive Parenting Tips and Strategies. If this is resonating with you today then you are the martyr type parent. You will recognise yourself here if you sacrifice your own life for your kids. You want your kids to be happy. You presume that you are the person who can make everyone else happy. Furthermore your logic says that the way you can make them happy is by doing things for them, giving things to them and being there every minute. The truth is that we cannot make people happy. Yet you feel it is your duty and your role. This has often flowed from the thoughts that your parents didn't do that for you. So by doing all this for your kids - all this "making the kids happy" you are doing the 'right' thing. This is flawed logic. It feels good to you . You feel you are doing the right thing. And in doing so you neglect yourself.
What should you be doing
You need balance in life. You also need to model to your kids how to do that. Instead you are all over your kids. You are not guiding them, teaching them, giving them a chance to learn. You are trying to do the hard work for them - you go to great lengths to make life easy for them. You provide everything for them - you scape every bit of money together for them - to give them what they want. The net result of this is that you are stripping them of the ability to learn about life and how to become resilient. You are removing the opportunities to learn how to achieve for themselves. You are taking away their independence by being there and trying to take charge for them.
What message are you giving to yourself?
In addition to this the message you are giving to yourself is that you are least important in your own life. You come last - you probably get about as much time as the pet rabbit that your kids have that you have to care for. (Even though you got it for them because they wanted it and promised to look after it!).
So referring back to the quote - don't set yourself on fire to keep others warm. This is what you are doing. You are burning yourself in an attempt to keep others warm and happy. If you are one of these people you will actually reach burnout (at least once). This clearly is not the best approach.
Don't give to yourself once you have given to everyone else. That will never happen. Create balance in your life but giving to you, giving to your kids, giving to your work and so on in apportioned amounts.