By Jennifer Garza
As children, we are taught to share. We are taught this in school, in the home, and in church. As adults, we learn about compromise. Both are wonderful lessons, but can be devastating when sharing and compromise turns into unhealthy sacrifice.
At its most benign, sacrifice means something given up, lost or surrendered for the sake of another. The harshest description of sacrifice means the destruction of one thing for something else.
While giving is a wonderful and necessary part of life, as we connect with others through sharing and giving of our love and affection, when giving becomes sacrifice, it can indeed be destructive. It’s important to your emotional and physical health to ensure you maintain a balance, and make time for yourself, too.
Here are two ways to tell if giving has turned into sacrifice for you:
1. You feel drained and tired physically and emotionally. This is a sign you are putting others or situations ahead of your own personal care. Yes, life can be stressful and draining, but you must combat this by taking time for yourself to re-charge.
* Start setting limits. Sometimes, you have to say “no.” This is not saying the other person isn’t important, this is saying you are just as important. It’s about survival. Think about what you are told to do on a plane in case of emergency – secure your own air bag before attempting to help others. You cannot help anyone if you run out of oxygen yourself.
*Schedule time to decompress – make time for leisurely walks, to meditate, or read a good book with no interruptions. If need be, negotiate with your spouse or family members to schedule “me” time and then reciprocate. This way, everyone wins.
2. You make excuses for other people’s behavior. When you become accustomed to giving without receiving, you justify why it is acceptable for the other person to withhold. You tell yourself this person is wounded and therefore doesn’t know any better. You rationalize their behavior by focusing on the good and ignoring the unhealthy. The tough lesson to learn is you cannot heal anyone else’s wounds, no matter how much you give to them. They must heal their own wounds.
*Remember sacrifice is a choice, and if you continue to do it, the responsibility for your emotional state is yours.
*Realize no one has the right to cause emotional or physical harm to your being. There are absolutely no excuses for being treated poorly. Yes, we all have flaws and are human. We react to others unfairly sometimes. However, when it becomes a never-ending cycle with little change occurring despite efforts to tell someone what you need from them, it’s time to set boundaries and choose to be selfish.
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Jennifer Garza, M.S., has a master of science in counseling and psychology. She is a former therapist and has taught life enhancement classes at venues including college campuses, state conferences and prisons. She is the author of the inspiration journal “365 Days to Happiness: Use Your Strengths, Thoughts, and Dreams to Manifest a New Life.” Garza has been featured in Natural Health magazine, AOL, BusinessInsider.com, Young Entrepreneur.com, and on FTNS radio. Visit her website at www.authorjennifergarza.com or connect with her.