Always Caring for Others? How to Find Balance

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Always Caring for Others? How to Find Balance

By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD


If you were asked to describe yourself, what would you say? If your description of yourself would be centered solely around what you do for others – how you are a good, caring friend or are altruistic – this may be a sign of seeing yourself in a limited, and limiting, way.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with feeling gratified by being a giving person, but there is a problem with feeling that your value is based only on having a function for whatever person may be in front of you – that you are unworthy as a person separate from that function. Such thinking is likely to leave you reflexively ignoring your thoughts, feelings, and what is healthy for you in favor of caring for the other person.

You may also hold the personal expectation that you should always be available to support others in whatever ways they need it – and you may be critical of yourself when you fall short. But everyone has limits; such as in the areas of time, energy, ability, or finances. If you struggle with accepting your limits, ask yourself whether you would be so judgmental of others. For instance, if you had a friend with young children, you would probably not be so critical of them failing to find the time to visit a sick friend or turning down a request to volunteer for a local charity event. Similarly, rather than judge yourself for what you are not doing, make sure to consider what you are doing.

So, if you judge your own value solely by how well you care for others, you are selling yourself short. Think about your interests, values, and passions – and practice taking the time to appreciate them. Also note how others enjoy being with you for reasons beyond taking care of them. Ultimately, being happy and fulfilled  means feeling good about who you are, not just what you do.


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