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Do You

"Much Knowledge

wrinkles the cerebellum,

but little informs." Maya Angelou


It is not uncommon to see humans demonstrate altruistic behaviors towards each other. This altruism revolves around cooperation and mutual benefit that sustains relationships and communities. Yet, despite the merits of such collaboration, sometimes circumstances lead to the breakdown of their interpersonal relationships.


Lately, I've been in conversation with several people who feel they are being taken for granted by the people closest to them. Usually, not only do they feel like they are being taken for granted, but their efforts to maintain healthy relationships are also not reciprocated. In many of these stressful situations, it seems they don't know how to say no to the unreasonable demands of others or ask for what they need from the people around them.


Yet as I listen, it is abundantly clear these individuals pride themselves on doing for others. Therefore, it is difficult for them to hear "take care of your own needs." To them, It sounds like they are being encouraged to be selfish. Taking care of one's emotional health and psychological well-being is not the same as being selfish.


Therefore, investing time and effort into your emotional and psychological health is crucial to your overall functioning. Remember, your functioning will be impaired if you become overwhelmed with your many sacrifices for others at the expense of your wellness.


On occasion, I've inquired whether the person ever traveled by airplane. Suppose the answer to the query is yes. In that case, I follow up with if they remember the flight attendants' instructions should the aircraft lose cabin pressure. This is where I encounter furrowed brows because there's no way the flight attendants' instructions have anything to do with their current situation.


Yes, they are correct; the flight attendants' instructions have nothing to do with their current situation. But, the flight attendants' instructions are one of the best examples of prioritizing self-care. The instructions did not say to help yourself and forget others. Instead, the directives are should the aircraft lose cabin pressure and the oxygen masks descend from overhead, then place the oxygen mask on yourself before attempting to assist others.


I paraphrase the flight attendants' directives for those who never travel by air.


Sometimes the response is, "I still don't get what you mean," or "I don't understand." For others, the analogy is what psychologist Alfred Adler describes as an aha moment that makes absolute sense. There's also the so you are saying I should be selfish and ignore the needs of others? Maybe you have done so much in service of others that you do not recognize when it's time to "do you." Of course, self-care shouldn't only be reserved for emergencies; it should be an ongoing practice.


Indeed, as these conversations go on, it's become abundantly clear the giver is drained. And they have already begun responding with passive-aggressive behaviors toward those they consider to be taking advantage of their time. The passive-aggressive behaviors don't help the situation, but who cares when you've had enough? Henceforth, from this point forward, do something in service of yourself to replenish your energy while taking care of others as seem reasonable.


You are deserving of a break; it's your right. Even if your love language is to be in service of others, you must have something to give, and your exhaustion means there isn't anything to share. Sacrifice is not a badge of honor, mainly when the sacrifice results in your needs taking a backseat to those of others. You may regret not doing what you wanted as part of your preferred future.

  • You may assert relationships are not about what you get from them, which may be true of some but not all. There is a sense of peace when you know you are supported and there are people you can rely upon in challenging moments.

  • You can count on the other person when you know responsibilities are shared.

  • Find a balance between the time you invest in yourself and others. This does not mean 5050.

  • Find meaning in spending time by yourself and doing things that are both enlightening and empowering to you.

  • Practice taking a positive outlook on your current situation.

  • Acknowledge your needs and not try to convince someone else of your needs.

  • Know your surroundings, who is consistently reasonable, and respect your boundaries.

Remember, if you are deprived of or disoriented from a lack of oxygen (self-care), you place yourself in an untenable situation. A key takeaway, it is noble to be in service of others, but your wellness is essential.


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