Many of us often have a feeling that we owe something to someone. What is the reason for the desire to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others? And what to do about that? How to stop living for others?
In a way, sacrifice is something we have been taught since childhood. As a kid, you were probably told that it’s good to be generous and share your toys with others not to seem egoistic. But sometimes you had to do it even when you didn’t want to. Since then, there have been many situations when others have told us to be kinder, more generous, more responsive.
Living for ourselves and satisfying our desires has always been frowned upon, while helpfulness has been highly valued. Only in adulthood does this lead to a guilt complex and the feeling that one always owes someone something.
Women are more prone to sacrifice
Quite often, women are the ones who act like a victim, sacrificing everything. They give themselves away – sometimes even too much – and don’t get a lot in return. And frequently one can hear a woman say:
“I did everything for him, and he did not appreciate it / broke up with me / cheated on me.”
What made her do this all? The answer is always the same:
“I thought he would treat me the same way.”
These could be things like working for two while he’s doing nothing all day long. Or she’s giving up her career and taking care of the kids and all household chores to give him free time for self-development and his career. She might also give up her hobbies and friendships for him (although he’s even probably never asked for it), etc.
Reasons you’re living for others
But what all these women forget is that total sacrifice is not the way to a long-lasting and happy relationship but rather to a devaluation of your personality.
There are two reasons for this. First, she didn’t set boundaries in the relationship. The fear that any limits would scare the man away made her force herself to do things she actually never wanted to or never liked.
The second reason is that she felt unloved as a kid, and to compensate for it, she’s become a people pleaser to get some praise and love. But this is conditional love, and it doesn’t make one happy.
In the end, this leads to a co-dependent relationship, and this script is then very difficult to change. In such a relationship, your sacrifice is not being appreciated, and all you do is taken for granted. And instead of gratitude, a woman receives claims and reproach, which creates resentment and dissatisfaction with her personal life.
How to stop sacrificing yourself for others?
To begin with, you need to learn to love yourself and understand your desires. A person who does not know what self-love is will not know how to love others.
BTW, we’ve already written the article “How to Love Yourself as You Are?” – so if you’re learning to love yourself, it’s definitely worth reading!
Remember that the way of sacrifice in the name of love has nothing to do with love. Start being honest with yourself, think about what you would want for yourself, instead of going along with your complexes.
Instead of giving to someone, start giving to yourself
Think about your dreams, your ideas, and make them come true. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play tennis or speak Spanish. Start taking care of yourself, invest time and effort in your own development. Life is so short – use the time you have for yourself in the first place!
Learn to be a self-sufficient person
This does not require being strong and independent. You just need to understand that you are important to yourself and others, you are valued, worthy, and most importantly, you appreciate and love yourself for who you are.
Be like leaders. Leaders know what they want and, most importantly, they know what they don’t desire. Even if saying no could hurt another person, they still say no if they feel like it. Be strong and know your true desires. Set your boundaries and let others know them. Act like those you admire.
This way, you’ll become more self-confident and begin to appreciate the qualities you have instead of pleasing others trying to win their love with unnecessary sacrifices.
Most important things you need
In order to change and stop living for someone else, make sure you regularly have the following:
- regular, uninterrupted time for you;
- healthy food;
- enough exercise;
- enough sleep;
- the chance to identify and express your emotions in a healthy way;
- friends and mentors we can count on;
- enough time with a clear schedule to work on your dreams;
- regular recognition of the value of our goals from a few of our significant others;
- limiting aimless screen time to one hour a day at most;
- an action plan in case of breakdowns, such as for a fresh start.
Things to avoid
If you want to stop sacrifices in vain, do your best to avoid the following:
- Thinking other people need you more than you need yourself;
- Overcommitting in order to be nice;
- being too busy so you ignore your interests;
- aimless screen time;
- comparing yourself with others (this will always be a source of misery);
- shaming oneself for disruptions;
- listening to those who distract or doubt you.
Follow these tips, and your relationships with others will also benefit from this. Your time spent with them will become more meaningful. And when you finally start taking care of your own needs, you will be developing your abilities and talents and find both motivation and a plan.