Have you ever reached a point where you feel like you’ve got nothing left to give? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve been so busy trying to make everyone else happy that you forgot to take care of your own needs. You’ll know your well of inner resources is empty if you start noticing one or more of these symptoms:
- You feel resentful when people make demands on your time or energy
- You start avoiding friends and family in case they want something from you
- You say “yes” to requests when you really mean “no”
So what can you do about it?
Take a step back
Try to create some time out to reflect on what’s been happening, and start by taking stock of the last month or so. How many times did you do something for someone that they could have done for themselves, or spend time on activities you don’t enjoy because you thought it would please someone else?
Calculate the cost
Of course it’s wonderful when everyone around you is happy. The question is, how much of your own energy and needs do you give up to make that happen? Also, be aware that when you run around endlessly giving or trying to save people (sometimes even from themselves), they often begin to take it for granted and get lazy about taking responsibility for their own stuff.
Take your power back
Sometimes it’s ok to say “No” or even “Not right now” to a demand on your time and energy, whether that’s helping someone with their studies or going to that party you really don’t feel like attending. If you’re not comfortable with the word “No”, try something like “That’s not something I can manage/feel up for right now”.
Now spend that time you just saved on recharging your batteries. Maybe that’s lying on the couch watching a movie, working out on a punch bag, having a bubble bath, going for a walk by yourself or simply spending time with friends who nurture you.
Remember that your first responsibility is always to yourself. If you don’t take care of your own needs first, you’ll have nothing left over to give to those you care about. Making good decisions around how you use your time and energy is an important part of that equation.