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Caring too much

As a child, particularly if we have younger siblings, we may have been given the message that it is important to look out and care for others. We may have been praised for being such a responsible person, or we may have been blamed when we didn't look after them well enough. As we grew up, we might have internalized this message and learnt that we need to make sacrifices and be helpful in order to be loved. Such a responsible and caring side, particularly when it already fits in with our personality, can thus become an integral part of our adult self.

It may make us a very reliable and hard working employee and a warm and loving partner. Sometimes, however, it can lead us to care too much about others and too little about ourselves. By wanting to be helpful or prioritize the well-being of others, we may create unrealistic expectations and push the bar higher than is good for us. Over time, if our own needs are not addressed, this can lead to physical, emotional and psychological suffering. The gulf between the façade we are putting on and how we feel inside widens, just so as not to burden, upset or disappoint the other. This can create a situation where we feel more and more pressured and less and less able to talk about it.

When exploring these situations, it is often surprising to me how much strength there is in people. If only a small part of this dedication and sense of responsibility can be channelled towards oneself, the results can be amazing. One way of working on self can thus be about mobilizing this caring side to address one's very own issues. It may involve realising that our needs and those of others are sometimes incompatible and may necessitate compromises, boundaries and disappointment. It is also about beginning to see that we all deserve love and attention, irrespective of how helpful we are to others - just for being human. And we can start with ourselves.


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