Do you take care of others so much that you forget to take care of yourself? Suppose your friend asks you to pick up her dry cleaning one day. You do not mind because it is along your commute and it feels good to help someone. However, a week later she asks for the same favor and you accept the invitation. Before you know it, you are picking up your friend’s dry cleaning weekly out of habit, without even realizing it is not your responsibility. You have taken it on as if it is your responsibility. You decide you are tired of participating but are uncertain how to make a change.

Out of fear that the friendship could become strained, you choose not to say anything. You probably do not want to hurt her feelings or you might be uncomfortable with asserting yourself. Your feelings remain unspoken for a few weeks, months or years. You finally say something when you reach your breaking point. At that point, what you say comes with intense anger, rather than honesty.

Your friend cannot understand why you are so angry because when she initially asked for your help, you willingly agreed. Even when she asked if you could continue to pick up her dry cleaning, you stated it was no problem. Naturally your friend is feeling confused and you are still feeling upset. You realize that it is truly time for a change.

You could have avoided getting frustrated and feeling taken advantage of if you would have honestly communicated with your friend when you started to feel resentment. When you continue to help others due to your fear of saying no or to evade your own life is when it is best to have a sincere conversation. Though it may seem daunting, the conversation is empowering for both parties involved: It allows you to respect yourself and focus on meeting your own needs; it allows your friend to take personal responsibility. There is also an opportunity for a stronger bond to form between you and your friend when you overcome this challenge.

Living for others encompasses more than doing tasks for others. You might also go along with group desires rather than expressing your own ideas. You might have gone into a specific profession to follow in the footsteps of another or because it afforded a stable living. In these instances you are sacrificing your dreams and neglecting to meet your needs. When you choose not to meet your own needs, you are left feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. You will then often look for ‘the next best thing’ in hopes to fill your void. Living authentically fills your void naturally because you are living the life you intentionally created. A life such as this brings meaning which rejuvenates the soul.

Do for others only after you have taken care of yourself. When you put the needs of others before your own, you neglect your own. Just as the flight attendant states to do in case of an emergency: Put on your own mask before assisting someone else. You cannot truly help someone if you have not first helped yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Jennifer N. Reed, M.A. is a Life Balance Mentor and offers consulting services nationwide. She helps individuals who are overwhelmed and burnt-out learn how to slow down in order to live more authentic, meaningful lives. To sign up for her FREE articles or to learn more about her individual and group services, visit