Always sacrificing ourselves for others not only does not make us have more support: it enslaves us.
On a day-to-day basis it is difficult to reach all the goals that you set yourself. However, it is even more difficult to make our needs compatible with what others constantly demand of us. That is, to offer that version of ourselves that others expect.
It is clear that being there to support others is positive, but sometimes, we internalize that dynamic of pleasing everyone so much that we end up sacrificing a good part of our lives in order to make others feel a little more comfortable. Knowing how to establish a balance between what is given and what is received is more complicated than it seems.
Being there for others does not imply enslaving
Some time ago I knew a person who, from a certain point in his life, decided to guide his actions through a very clear mission: to please others.
This person, whom we will call Tania, did not have strong religious beliefs nor, in conversation, did she appear to see herself as a devoted defender of the good. She was a very normal and ordinary person, with little tendency to moralism or to judge people, and she had her fears and her concerns. The only difference between Tania and the majority of the population is that, in practice, she acted as if she owed something to everyone. She lived to please others, and she could not refuse it.
Thus, week after week, Tania gave dozens of reasons to be appreciated by others thanks to those efforts, lighter or more moderate, that she made to make the people around her a little happier. In exchange for this, she wasted dozens of opportunities to say no to certain requests and to spend time taking care of herself, resting or just doing whatever she wanted to do at the time.
In principle, everything seemed something very similar to a simple transaction; after all, it is said that the richest person is the one who learns to give what they have without feeling the loss. Seeing the happiness and well-being of those we hold dear also has a positive impact on us. However, what Tania failed to realize is that the personal relationship dynamic she entered into was not a profit and loss issue; Those sacrifices he made did not work in his favor ; in fact, they enslaved her even more.
Three months after having formally proposed to always support others in everything and help in whatever way she could, Tania said she was very happy. But a few weeks after the above, she was having her first anxiety attack. What had happened?
The trap of eternal pleasing others
During the months that Tania decided to work hard for her friends and family, she learned a culture of effort that she had been oblivious to for most of her life. However, in this process there was another learning that penetrated deeper into her way of thinking, although in a much more subtle and unconscious way. This learning was the habit of interpreting any personal wish as an excuse for not striving for the rest.
But that feeling of guilt that comes out of nowhere, that which makes some people enter into a dynamic of asking for forgiveness for continuing to exist, becomes, curiously, something that we use to evade the most important responsibility: deciding what to do with it. own life. And it is that, oddly enough, always meeting the demands of the rest can become a patch that we put on so as not to have to see our own needs that scare us. In Tania’s case, a failed relationship had left her self-esteem so damaged that she didn’t see herself in the mood to take herself seriously. In such a situation, becoming a labor force to polish the finishes of others’ lives may seem like a demanding option, but at least it is something simple, something that can be done mechanically.
The worst thing was not that Tania began to judge herself more cruelly for no apparent reason; The worst thing was that the people around him were also “infected” by this idea and began to assume that they deserved the full attention and efforts of their friend, daughter, sister or partner, depending on the case.
A small community had formed that, at the same time, asked to be cared for individually by a woman who could refuse practically nothing. The possibility of doing anything but constantly giving in was gone. At first it would have cost her much less to get out of that dynamic, but once everyone had internalized those images of Tania as “always helpful person”, it became a trap that she could only get out of with the help of therapy.
To always please the other is not to please anyone
Always sacrificing yourself for others is a double loss. On the one hand, we lose ourselves, because we treat our own body as if it were a machine that must work until it breaks, and on the other, we lose the ability to decide if we want to act and how we want to do it; we are simply forced to always opt for the option that apparently benefits the other the most, even if we later try to make up the situation by inventing supposed advantages for ourselves.
However, if those people knew what is really going on in our heads, they would prefer that everything return to normal. That no one had decided to bet everything on the self-sacrifice card.
And it is that in the long run betting everything on the need to satisfy the rest consists of creating a false image of the expectations that others place on us in order, based on our actions, to make those expectations come true little by little.
After all, whoever acts as if they feel guilty about something, it is possible that they really should be blamed for something and, therefore, that we should demand more of them. On the other hand, someone who gets used to always acting like a martyr ends up believing original sin, something for which they must eternally pay regardless of whether it actually happened or not.
Training assertiveness and you will learn to respect yourself is the only way to avoid blurring the line between assumable sacrifices and those that are not. The true sacrifices, the most honest, are those that are made from the freedom that gives the power to say “No”.