The Pain and Balance of Self-Sacrifice

self-sacrifice women Mar 15, 2024

I don’t know about you, but I was raised and praised to be self-sacrificial. It was almost like saint status, as the more you sacrificed your needs, wants, and care for yourself, the higher the realms of sainthood you might get, the better woman you are, and anything less is selfish. I learned that sacrificing my care and needs was a sign that you were a good caring person in your core. This was something I was taught everywhere in my upbringing... family, religion, school, and our culture.

One thing I wasn’t taught is that I was already by nature loving, caring, giving, and generous, and this wasn’t something I had to “learn.” I was naturally this way. But I also learned that knowing, respecting, and attending to my own needs and wants to some degree was a selfish act. In fact, the only acceptable time was when I was on Santa’s lap.

Considering myself to some degree was seen as a selfish act. — Is this story unusual? No. I hear this all day long, mostly from women. Women are mostly raised to be the caretakers of others in family, friends, and work. While I’ve also seen men in this category, this email addresses the women and the specific challenges I see with them.

We have generations and generations of how a woman’s role should be in family and society. It has been passed down through the culture, family DNA, and media.

One of the main issues I see at the core of most women’s emotional and physical issues is self-sacrifice. I see women working themselves to death, attending to everyone's needs at the expense of their own health, and ending with epidemics of issues from all-time highs of addiction, depression, anxiety, eating issues, body dysmorphia, and stress-related health issues. I see this EVERY DAY.

There are feelings of “I can’t stop what I am doing”, to “I don't want to be selfish”, to “no one else will take care of it, so I have to.” There is a gerbil wheel that eventually starts to burn out, overwhelmed, and exhausted while also not living and attending to their own needs and wants.

Many women don’t know what they need or want, and their purpose other than attending to everything around them.

If women could truly see on my end the effects that this has on the body (digestive disorders, auto-immune, weight and mood fluctuations, sleep issues, and more), the mind (racing, self-critical, pressure, busy), and the soul (depletion, lack of vitality, emotional exhaustion, lack of personal purpose and meaning), it would be a life changer.

I understand this personally. This was the foundation of my life. There are so many things I had to learn and unlearn. I remember thinking that my needs and wants were a hassle. I didn't really know what I wanted, needed, longed for, etc. was relevant, not selfish, and didn’t make me a bad person or narcissist.

Whew, the unlearning I had to go through was a lot. But my body was getting louder to take notice.

While I may not be a saint, I know at my core that loving comes naturally to me, caring for others doesn’t need to be at the complete sacrifice of myself, that I have a purpose that is separate and knowing myself, my needs, and wants are at the core of the quality I give others and not from a state of depletion.

If you have learned to sacrifice yourself, put your own needs, wants, passions, and purpose, or even know what those are, it’s not too late. One thing I have learned is that every person has their unique essence that is a gift to them and others but you have to know and attend to yourself deeply as a garden doesn’t grow or bloom unless deeply attended to.

Shedding the skin of societal standards is an important step. Embodiment and self-awareness are crucial stages to your being the full expression of who you are.

Self-sacrifice drains energy while knowing, attending, and being you build energy. And the garden of you will naturally share your gifts with the world.

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