Helping Others Without Ever Helping Yourself

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Highly Sensitive People are often excellent caregivers, putting others’ needs before their own. Yet when we help others without ever helping ourselves, it can lead to burnout and resentment.

The wild part, which even I am still learning, is that when we help and love ourselves, then not only do we feel better, but we can actually offer better quality care to those we desire to support.

It has taken me many years and lots of practice to actually make myself a priority, and even then, sometimes life happens and it all falls apart.

A few weeks ago I booked my boyfriend and I back-to-back massages. We both very much needed to feel rejuvenated and at ease, so this was going to be perfect.

Yet as much as I was looking forward to it, I was also a little worried because I so badly wanted my boyfriend to have a good experience. You see, he isn’t a regular massage goer like me and although he had been carrying a lot of stress, when I initially brought up the idea of a massage he got nervous - and I took his nervousness to heart.

I knew he needed it, though, so I insisted that it was just what we both need and it was going to be great.

Finally, the time came for us to get pampered.

I went first.

I did my best to relax, be present and enjoy my massage… but mentally I was still thinking about - and worrying about - my boyfriend’s experience.

Would he like this masseuse? Would he receive the rejuvenation he needed? I caught myself mid-massage, realizing that by prioritizing him in my mind I was missing out on MY OWN rejuvenation!

I took a deep breath and did my best to stay present and the remainder of my massage was lovely.

I kissed my boyfriend as we switched places and then I showered and dressed.

Now I had about an hour to spend by myself. Yet again, instead of breathing, tuning in and really asking myself what could further nourish me in that hour, I thought only of my boyfriend’s timeline, wanting to be ready to go to dinner as soon as he was done. As a result, I rushed around the neighborhood running errands.

Here’s the most hilarious part:

When I went to meet my boyfriend, after being so concerned about his experience and rushing my errands to line up with his timeline, I was grumpy and upset!

So even though he actually did have an AMAZING massage and also took extra time afterwards to further pamper himself, instead of meeting him and lovingly guiding him to dinner, I snapped because my own energy was crashing.

My lack of self-care led me to essentially ruin the afterglow of BOTH of our massages!

Thankfully, after only about 10-20 minutes of upset where we both wanted the other person to take care of us, with his help I took a deep breath and got back on track.

I apologized to both him AND myself for not taking better care of me. We ate a delicious dinner and the rest of the night was absolutely delightful.

This experience so clearly exhibits the importance of loving and helping ourselves first.

Had I just taken care of myself, rather than prioritizing him, then we’d both have experienced bliss!

Overall, it was a wonderful opportunity to return to love, to honor my own feelings and - the biggest piece in my mind - forgive myself for going temporarily astray.

Did this resonate? Let me know in the comments!

Big love,

Kelsey