How do you care for others and take care of yourself at the same time?
This is one of the most common questions we get: from mothers, from wives, from helping professionals. We are going to talk about this over and over and over again, because it is that important. If you’ve already tried everything in this post, don’t worry, more is coming!
Disclaimer: This is going to be different, depending on the roles you play. For example, you can tell your partner, hey I can’t cook you dinner tonight because I need a break for myself. You cannot tell your children that… unless they are old enough to understand. In the coming months, we will talk about the difficult roles mothers play and how self-care can fit into their busy schedules.
There are some common traits within those who experience stress & burn-out while caring for others:
- Giving 100% to others, 0% to themselves
- Feeling responsible for others’ happiness
- Taking on others’ emotions as their own
Let’s talk about these real quick:
Giving 100% to others, 0% to themselves:
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here. Caring for loved ones, working hard professionally, keeping up a house and maintaining a social life; it’s a lot. I have seen this before; what happens when a family member is sick and needs to be cared for? When your hubby breaks his foot playing basketball and is helpless for a couple months? [IT SUCKS!] What about when your profession requires you to help others every day? You start to give and give and give. We can easily get into the routine of giving others everything, because we simply just need to get everything done.
Feeling responsible for others’ happiness:
Ladies… this is a big one. We have a difficult time NOT doing this. We typically are nurturing, so of course we want those we love to be happy. But what happens when we start to take on the responsibility of making someone else happy? That is something we simply cannot control. There are situations in which we can do EVERYTHING right, yet the other person is not happy. Is that because we failed? NO. Unfortunately we often feel like it is.
Taking on others’ emotions as their own:
Holy crap… this one is the BIGGEST for me. I feel like I’ve always been a sponge for emotions, and it can be very difficult. When we take others’ emotions on, we are saying they are our responsibility. We don’t allow ourselves to feel compassion and empathy. Like you are having a great day, and then talk to someone who is upset and instantly feel like crap? Yup, then you fit in this category.
Do you feel like you are struggling with taking care of others AND yourself?
You aren’t alone. The majority of women we’ve talked to feel like they spend the majority of their time caring for other people. So now what? Think about which category you fit in BEST. Let’s break it down a little bit:
Giving others 100%, ourselves 0%.
Time for a little check-in! Why do you do that? Do you feel good when you help others, like you are the only one who can do it the way you do? Like the control? Do you feel like everything will crumble if you give even 99%? All of the above? That’s okay! We aren’t judging here! Ask yourself…
- How does life look different if I take 5 minutes each day for myself? 10 minutes? !5?
- How would I feel if I pull back just a little bit? Anxious? Happy? Sad? How can you deal with those feelings?
- So, how can you commit to yourself today, to give yourself more than 0%.
Feeling responsible for others’ happiness:
Okay, we’ve all been here, right? Because we feel responsible for someone’s happiness, we also feel responsible if they feel anything but happiness. Sadness, anger, frustration… this can all feel like a failing on our end. Ask yourself…
- Am I doing what I need to to care for them? Are they in a safe, healthy environment?
- Do they know I will support them? That I love them?
- What would my life look like if I did not worry about their happiness?
Taking on others’ emotions as your own:
This may be something you’ve struggled with your entire life; some people are simply sponges for emotions around them. If you are a dog owner… think about the last time you were anxious? Did your dog notice? Mine always knows, he comes and sits right next to me. That’s kind of what this can feel like too… you are constantly soaking in the emotions around you. Ask yourself…
- Am I feeling compassion and empathy, or am I taking on the emotions as my own?
- Where are my boundaries? Like, do I stop someone or remove myself from the situation once I realize I am taking on the emotions of others?
- Am I in touch with my own emotions; can I identify them?
As you can see, It is easy to get so wrapped up in our day to day that we fail to see these own qualities in ourselves, especially because on the surface, they look like great qualities. And of course we included a worksheet on this one because it’s a little difficult!
Click Below for the Worksheet!