Do you give to others at your own expense?

Are you the type of person that takes on everything?

I mean at work, do you tend to say yes to things in order to be seen as helpful or dependable?  When someone asks you if you can help them – do you ever say no?

Do you look at your working day and wonder how you are ever going to get through it all, but never think to ask for help with it.

Do you tell yourself that it’s just much easier to get on and do it yourself; by the time you explain what needs to be done to anyone else, you could have done it…

Taking on board these responsibilities, for others is actually a way of being under responsible to ourselves.  It’s an unresourceful way of giving away your power and leaves you feeling exhausted and helpless.

Let me explain.

In your relationships do you find yourself doing a lot of things for them?

You may do it with joy in your heart, but where do you draw the line?  When does it become too much and how do you say no without feeling guilty? I’m not just talking about the romantic little things that happen in the early stages of a relationship.  I’m talking about all the times you say yes to things without really meaning it.  All the times you do things because you feel like you should, or you have to.  It’s going to build up a resentment in side you, whether you’re aware of it or not.

This pattern of behavior is commonly linked to people pleasers, co-dependent relationships, and in the extreme victims of narcissistic relationships.

Imagine… and this may have happened to you, that you are years into the relationship where you seem to be doing all the cooking, cleaning, and looking after the kids.  You have little to no time for yourself, juggling work commitments and all the group activities and committees you’re now part of.  You don’t even see your partner for romantic dates any more and the tension is becoming palpable.  Everything you have taken on board to be seen as loving, helpful, loyal, & committed partner – whatever your reason is, is now turning into resentment and exhaustion.

So I see this a lot.  Not just in romantic relationships but with people at work, with friends.  If this is a pattern for you, it will likely be showing up in other areas.

While there is positive intention behind the behavior; to be kind and good to others – it begs the question who is being kind and good to you.  Unless you speak up and give voice to what you want, people will continue to think you are ok with being over responsible for their needs.  Who is being over responsible for you, when you are being so under responsible for yourself?  Do you see?

Let me give you an example:

I used to work as graphic designer and during COVID have had to pick up some extra work to support myself.  Great I’m being responsible, right?

Where the lines start to blur is how much I accommodate the needs of others over my own needs and values. – that is the thing I want you to catch for yourself.

So this one client wanted me to work on designing a catalogue/portfolio piece for a couple of days and to work to some super tight deadlines.  They were also on a really tight budget, so I was required to wear a few more hats than just designer, they needed a copywriter, art director… you name it.  So I went in to ‘over responsibility’ mode and obliged everything they asked of me in order to get the work done.

What I should have done, is check in with myself and ask when did it become my responsibility to do all these tasks? – I wasn’t getting paid any more and it was going to mean crunching a lot of hours to meet the deadline.

I wanted to be seen as someone who could be relied upon to get the work done.  And leave the client happy.  So I worked myself into the ground with only a couple hours sleep in order to meet the deadline.  In the end, they never recognized what I had done or paid me for the additional hours.

That’s when I got resentful.  But I hadn’t been clear about my boundaries in the first place, after all I had agreed to do the work, right?  I wanted the work and for them to be happy with me.  But the real cost was in giving away all my power and being under responsible to me.  Do you see?

So, I was angry with myself for my own lack of responsibility to me.  It was like a double whammy… and a great lesson for me.

So as luck (or not) would have it, they contacted me again last week.  This time I decided to set some clear boundaries up front about timings, payments, what I will and won’t do basically what they can expect from me… And you know what?  They agreed to everything on my terms.

By taking responsibility for me with boundaries I can own and work within, I am happier, calmer and far more empowered.  If you want to know how to shift this pattern for yourself book a call on the button below.  I’d love to hear from you.