Are you being taken advantage of?
Caring for others is a noble trait, and often times we garner a sense of significance or contribution from it.
While it is important to be a positive influence in the lives of others, many of us fail to set boundaries for what we’ll accept in return and subsequently get taken advantage of or lose sight of our identity in the process. There is a difference between giving of yourself, and sacrificing yourself.
Below are a few signs that you’ve been prioritizing others for so long that it’s time to remember you matter, too.
1. You’ve lost sight of what your true identity is.
Priorities in life add up quickly. Kids, career, relationships, all of the things that make us who we are. Each of these aspects require our energy and attention, sometimes to an overwhelming extent.
What happens too often is that they’ll absorb so much of our time and attention that every single decision we make is for the sake of someone else. We are always working to make someone else happy, to keep the boss off of our back, to make sure we are pleasing our significant other — and one day we wake up and forget who we even were as an individual outside of all of this.
What makes us fulfilled? What are our hobbies or recreational interests? What would we do socially if we were on our own for a week?
When we lose sight of the things that matter to us as individuals, it’s a sign that we’ve been putting ourselves on the back burner for too long and need to take some time to refocus and make sure we are on the right path.
2. You never say no.
The boundaries we set for ourselves are reflective of the standards we have set and the amount of self-worth we hold. Failure to set or maintain boundaries in our personal life sends the message that we will accept any level of treatment, no matter how harmful or negative.
It’s not always dramatic examples, it could be something as simple as accepting the wrong order at a restaurant or not standing up to someone who takes credit for your idea at work. The more slack you give to the world, the more it will take.
3. You have a hard time making important decisions.
Important decisions are often guided by our internal compass. Our identity and purpose drive us in the direction that is most aligned with what is important to us.
If we’re unclear on what’s really important to us, how can we make the proper decisions that reinforce it? How will we know which path to take in the woods if we don’t know where we’re going? How can we set the navigation in our car if we don’t have a destination?
You get the idea.
So, then, if you’ve been sacrificing your own wellbeing for so long that you’ve lost sight of your internal compass, consider it a red flag that it’s time to re-center yourself.
4. You can’t stand being alone.
Sure, it can be more fun to be around people — but there’s a difference between wanting to be around others, and relying on being around others.
We must develop the ability to be self-sufficient and feel good about ourselves when we are by ourselves.
If our entire sense of identity and self-worth has been wrapped up in serving others for so long that we’ve lost sight of how to take care of ourselves, we won’t know how to be alone.
This can easily lead us into the wrong relationships and have us spending time around the wrong people simply for the sake of having someone there, even if they’re not good for us.
The first step to liking being alone is liking the person you’re alone with — and if you don’t, then you’ll accept much lower levels of treatment than you deserve just for the sake of having company. Even if it’s toxic company.
5. You’ve given up on your interests and passions.
What are the things that you truly love doing? Reading books? Painting? Skiing? Archery? Taking your metal detector to the beach?
Regardless of what it is: When did you last make time for “it”?
Life always has obligations. Work, bills, errands, cleaning. While we can’t lose sight of these, balance is important. Making time for enjoying ourselves and having fun is the frosting on the cake of life. It gives us much-needed mental reprieves and allows us to recharge. It serves as our reward for all of the hard work we put in on a regular basis.
If we never stop to enjoy the rewards of our work, then what’s the point of doing it in the first place?
Needless to say, there are far more signs that you’re emotionally draining yourself than just these, many of which are more in-depth detailed. That being said, you know yourself best, and it’s always important to check in with “me” and ask if the people and things you’re giving your attention to are enhancing your life, or draining your energy.
Caring for yourself isn’t “selfish,” it’s necessary for keeping yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy.
If you don’t care for you, you won’t be able to care for anyone else, either.
Joseph A. Cornacchia