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I Have to Take Care of Everyone Else’s Needs

Today’s lie of the day is one of those thoughts and actions you may not realize you are exhibiting in your every day life!  Surely, you don’t walk around thinking this to yourself, but many of you (and me, too, on occasion!) are behaving in a way that you are valuing other people’s needs above your own.  Some of you, reading this, are probably thinking, “Of course I put other people’s needs ahead of my own.  If I didn’t, I’d be selfish, and that’s the last thing I want to be in my life!”

Well, as it turns out, much of the time, when you put other people ahead of you, you end up exhausting yourself, saying yes, when you would rather say no, and over-extending yourself.  The result?  You are tired, cranky, and blame everyone else for your state of mind and body.  You think you weren’t selfish, but instead, you were a pain in the ass, and upset everyone, most of all, yourself!  And to think, you could have said no, let everyone else deal with their reaction, and been a happy camper!

Let me give you a fun example of how this sabotaging process impacted me.  About 10 years ago, I used to get my eyebrows waxed at a salon in Manhattan on West 57th Street.  I had an excellent aesthetician, and was very happy with the results.  One day, I showed up for my appointment and was greeted by the salon owner.  She seemed stressed, and upset.  Apparently, her staff had quit, she was overworked, and asked me to bear with her, and to please stay.

Did I once think,

“She should have called to tell me what happened, and given me the option to cancel my appointment.”

or

“She seems really stressed out, I think I should leave.”

No!

Instead, I thought, “Poor salon owner.  I feel so badly that she is stressed and on her own running the show.  That must be awful.  I can’t leave now, she would be so upset if I did.  Even though my gut is churning, I need to stay here so that I don’t insult her.”

!!!???!!!

Do you see how this is the same thing, basically, as saying “I need to take care of her”?  And, yet, she was not even family or a friend, I was paying her for a service! 

Guess what happened?  She got a little careless with the wax, and took off about half my eyebrows.  It was the worst brow job I ever had.  I stopped getting my brows done for 10 years.  The hair never grew back….(until this year, happily, when I braved a new brow person who uses tweezers instead of wax!!)

And yet, I paid her for the job.  I never went back, but boy was I cranky, upset, and blaming her for a lousy job for weeks and months afterwards.  This was before Social Media, so I had to verbally tell everyone the story, over and over again, to make sure no one else got their brows massacred! And, of course, all the drama kept me angry and feeling like a victim every time I told the story.

Until we learn to take care of our own needs, and separate them from the impact they have on other people, we end up stuck in a loop that ultimately exhausts everyone.  Sacrificing what we want and need to save someone else from being hurt or angry keeps us from being fully happy, and, ultimately, keeps them from being happy, too, since no one’s needs are being met.

So, as your call to action, practice honoring your own needs and finding your personal version of respectful ways to say no when you mean no.  Allow and honor other people’s reactions to your shift in focus, and learn to separate their judgment from your needs.

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