Q - It seems that all my life I’ve been there for everybody else, including my family and friends, yet whenever I need some help and support no-one’s there for me. They all know me as being strong and standing up for others when they need it, but what they don’t see is that I could do with some back up myself sometimes.I feel drained by everyone else’s problems and needs. I’ve had enough, and I’m getting sick of not getting what I want in my life. I know that sounds selfish but it’s how I feel.
A - It sounds as though your ‘inner child’ has been focusing upon being a good and helpful girl to others – and not been appreciated or rewarded enough for it.
As children, particularly in troubled homes, we soon learn that in order to be seen as OK we have to behave in a certain way. A way that might be at odds with how we’re really feeling.
If this is the case we have to then wear a ‘mask’ to convince others (and ourself) that this is the new and better version of ourselves – the one that the people around us prefer. We have become conditioned to behave and appear in a certain way.
These are also known as ‘conditions of worth’ – for example:-
I am seen as worthy to be here as long as I…….
I will be accepted here but only on the condition that I………….
As adults we need to become aware of the messages about ourselves that we give out to others – and whether they are true or false.
Might you be giving out a message of...
'Rely on me... I’ll always be there for you no matter what… never mind about me… you matter more than I do.'
I’m not suggesting that you’re doing this in a ‘martyr’ type of way. You mean well but this comes at a price to you. The cost is that your own needs are getting overlooked, and other people don't see that you have needs.
We can easily lose touch with who we are and what we want and need – especially if we’ve become used to looking after everyone else first.
Perhaps you could also ask yourself:-
* 'What am I hoping people will think of me and how they’ll feel towards me based upon what I do for them?'
Perhaps you are looking outside of yourself for ‘validation’ – that feeling that you are OK as a human being, as a woman, and as a friend.
If so that puts you at a major disadvantage - because robust validation only comes from the inside.
It comes from knowing that ‘flaws and all’ you are a good person who deserves to be happy and loved for who you are, not for what you can do for someone else.
That inner validation starts with self love and care... and in believing ‘Yes, I have flaws like everyone else but I am worthy and deserving of love, respect, care and support, and to get my own needs met too.’
This time of self-reflection will also be a good time for you to look at your personal boundaries around time – and what you are and aren’t willing to give to someone else.
It’s vital that you become more selfish – in a good way – and put your own needs first (unless a situation arises when a child’s needs must come first).
Rehearse saying ‘no’ assertively (something you perhaps couldn’t do in childhood). You can soften it with a ‘not at the moment…I’d prefer not to…I’ll let you know when I’ve made up my mind.'
Take time to evaluate what you need for yourself - and whether or not you want to meet someone else’s request (assuming it is a request, and that you haven’t just jumped in to rescue someone who doesn’t need or want it!)
Take care of your own inner child – that deeper part of you whom you’re finally listening to and who is activating your present feelings with the message ‘What about Me!’
Write down the actual help and support you want and need and from whom, by making a list in each of these categories –
emotional, affectionate/physical, practical, financial and spiritual.
* What gets in the way of you getting these needs met?
* Do these people even know what you’d like from them?
Remember, you will need to be clear about what you do want, although they’re not obliged to provide it for you. They too have their own preferences and boundaries!
The bottom line is that you were not born with this pattern of unrewarding behaviour.
You have been conditioned and programmed to behave in a compliant and people-pleasing way.
It can be ‘un-learned’ and you can instead become more self-validating, authentic (no-mask), assertive and able to maintain your boundaries against those who would try to knock them down (directly or with emotional manipulations).
Family are the hardest people to be different around – as they will no doubt prefer you to continue to be the overwhelmed and drained helper and peace-keeper.
You have a choice to make. Rescue and re-parent your inner child, or to carry on wiping yourself out in the service of other people.
If you want some help with the former you’ll find it at my website below.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) - MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharley.com Where you will find lots of FREE resources designed to help and inform you on your journey of self-knowledge and development - and to heal and re-parent your inner child.
There's also a self-help online course for £37 - or £27 if you use the code TENOFF at the checkout - called '3 Steps To Sort Yourself Out - without therapy?' This course will help you to have a better relationship with yourself
www.maxineharleymentoring.com - Therapeutic self development for women who want to understand and manage their emotions, bounaries and behaviours...to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better.
www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk - 10 online self-help workshops (£27 each) including one called UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF
www.qpp.uk.com - 'The new paradigm in therapy' - which changes unhelpful sub-conscious beliefs or S.C.R.I.P.T. (c) - your Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time