I'm betting that you're the type that often puts other people's needs before your own. Am I right? The happiness of others makes you happy, so this only makes sense.
But what happens when your own needs aren't getting met? Do you get cranky, crash or feel resentful?
I don't propose that you stop taking care of others because, who are we kidding, that is never going to happen. It's an integral part of who you are and that's one of the things we love about you.
Here's the thing though, if you are always putting other people's needs in front of yours without communicating your own, you are not doing them any favors.
Most of us are not mind readers.
How many times have you heard something like, "I shouldn't have to tell him, if he loves me he should just know." Now I bet you know better than that realistically, but it is an attitude that is rampant in our society. We don't want to ask for what we want because we think those that really know us should already be doing it. Everybody is different though so people are likely to treat you the way they would want to be treated but might not really know what works for you. On the other end, you might do something for someone because you think it is what they would want, when it turns out to be something that isn't all that important to them.
If something is important to you, but not as important to the other person, you may have to ask every time or come up with a system to remind them. This isn't because you aren't important to them, but because it might be something that just isn't at the top of their radar.
When you say yes to something you don't want to do, you have to say no to something you do.
Time is a finite resource and we have to spend it wisely, or at least mindfully. If you keep saying yes to things that you don't want to do, what else are you missing out on? I know you have a lot of things you'd like to do, and there isn't enough to do it all. Why spend your time then on things you don't enjoy? If you get really clear on your priorities, you can better communicate them to others. This is not selfish. Taking care of yourself will make you more productive, more creative and more positive in the long run.
Next time someone asks you to do something you don't want to do, let them know that you appreciate their thinking of you. Then you can either let them know that you have certain priorities that you are focusing on now or tell them you'll have to check your schedule. People appreciate good communication when done assertively.
Speaking up for yourself sets a good example for others.
Our culture seems to have a fear of direct communication. We are afraid that if we are assertive, we will appear aggressive. This may be partly because when someone is passively quiet for a long time and things start to nag at them, by the time they actually speak up, it comes out aggressively. Then they give up because they were not received well in their communication. I have always been rather outspoken and even a bit blunt at times. I do, however, always keep in mind that everybody's perspective has value and other people sense that from me. Because I speak up without conveying judgement on the other person, I've found that it is generally well received. In fact, I've been told on more than one occasion that such openness is refreshing and find people often open up to me in return.
If you approach communication with curiosity and intent to share rather than coming from a place of judgement, people will be inspired to communicate back in the same way.
Photos courtesy of Guy Holtzman Photography.