How to Stop Sacrificing Yourself for Others

How to Stop Sacrificing Yourself for Others

“Life is funny. Things change, people change, but you will always be you, so stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are for anyone.” ~Zayn Malik

There’s a time to compromise, adapt, accommodate, and defer to others, but you are not being true to yourself if this is your primary pattern of functioning.

When we give up too much of ourselves to others, we can disconnect from who we are and what is most important to us. We are actually betraying ourselves. We may not realize that it is taking its toll on us, but that is what happens over time.

Until not that long ago, I was not being true to myself 90% of the time! Growing up, I was taught to put others and their happiness above my own, that it was selfish to think of my own needs. My mother was chronically ill with migraine headaches and arthritis from the time I was born. As a result, I learned to set myself aside, be good, stay quiet, and do what was expected of me. These were my survival mechanisms.

My brain was wired to put others first.

Being true to yourself is significant for your health, happiness, and well-being.

If you notice that you’re feeling growing resentment and anger, exhausted most of the time, experiencing stress and overwhelm on a regular basis—then your body may be telling you that you’re not being true to yourself.

In 2005, I was near burnout in every area of my life: working 12-14 hours a day in private practice doing child custody work, and as a “good wife,” running a household of my husband, two daughters, a dog, and a cat—trying to take care of everyone else because that was what I “was supposed to do.”

I finally reached the moment where I couldn’t do it anymore, realizing that I had lost the “being” part of me as a human being. I took a year off work and began to know myself better, which changed my life! I have reached a balance where I can freely give of myself to others while staying true to what I want and what fulfills me.

It may feel hard to be true to yourself if, as a child, you learned:

  • To put others and their happiness above yours.
  • It is selfish to think of yourself and your needs.
  • To do what you were told.

Your brain may have been wired to put others first like mine was. And, as I had, you may have a busy life with things and people pulling on your energy, and you are giving up parts of yourself without realizing the toll it’s taking.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Pay attention to those signs your body is giving you, and take care of your health—now! You can’t be good to anyone else if you’re not good to yourself.
  • Make the commitment to be true to yourself enough to set some limits and healthy boundaries, where you say, this is for me and it’s non-negotiable!

For example, I meditate every morning no matter what, even if it’s for less time than I would like. It’s important to help me start my day feeling calm, centered, and grounded.