As women (and less often men) we are brought up to be kind and caring. It makes sense right? It goes with the role of a mother we may one day become.
We're taught to put others first - putting ourselves last is often considered something to feel proud of. Don't ask for too much and always be there for others and do everything you can to make them happy. Don't be selfish. Smile and make others happy.
So what's the problem with being overly caring or people pleasing?
#1 We lose ourselves
When we're so wrapped up in what everyone else is doing and thinking we lose sight of ourselves and what matters to us. Often when I work with clients who are overly caring they don't know what they think or feel - they've been doing such a good job of being there for others. Staying connected to who we are means we can live authentically rather than trying to mould ourselves around what makes our friends or work colleagues happy.
#2 We burnout
When you're so busy caring for so many people in your life - trying to make your friends and family happy, your boss, your work colleagues etc......being the agony aunt, giving advice and support, taking on that extra workload, trying to be perfect - you will end up drained, worn out and ultimately burned out.
#3 Our relationships struggle
When we so desperately want approval and for everything to be OK in our relationships we avoid conflict, sweeping things under the carpet and rationalising them until one day things just blow up - in a big way that's damaging to our relationship. Also, we're so busy trying to be the "perfect girlfriend/wife" for our partner that we stop being ourselves - and what kind of a relationship is it if you can't be yourself?
#4 We experience high levels of anxiety
When we're second guessing ourselves all the time and trying to maintain the dance of keeping everybody happy we experience high levels of anxiety and have difficulty switching off and relaxing/sleeping.
#5 We get taken advantage of
Others notice how quick we are to jump in with advice and solutions or how supportive we are to the people around us and they take advantage of that. You'll know who these people are because you're left feeling dumped on and like your energy has been totally zapped.
The sad thing is that when we put ourselves bottom of the list, others put us there too - we are sending out the message that we're not important by the way we behave.
I hope from reading this that you've gained a bit of an understanding of the hazards of being overly caring. This pattern of behaving is usually deeply ingrained and it can take a bit of time to develop healthier ways of being in relationships with others - and most importantly ourselves.
I love supporting people on this journey. I have walked the same journey myself from burnout to energy, balance and self connection.
It's a beautiful and calmer way to live - and you and your relationships will benefit each step of the way.