If 5 or more of these statements describe you - there is a strong chance you have the this schema
- 1People usually turn to me for help and advice.
- 2I tend to think of others more than myself.
- 3I will drop everything if someone close to me needs me.
- 4I give more to other people than I get in return.
- 5I tend to do things for others because it is easier for me to do it than let them struggle.
- 6If someone asks me to do something I would feel very guilty saying no.
- 7I sometimes feel overwhelmed and exhausted from running around doing things for others.
- 8I find it very difficult to see someone in emotional pain.
- 9I rarely express my own feelings and needs as I am focused on the other person.
- 10It is selfish to put your own needs before others.
On the surface Self-sacrifice seems like a good schema to have. It's all about helping other people, being kind, generous and giving. For this reason, a lot of people have a hard time seeing it as a problem and letting it go.
The thing about Self-sacrifice is that it's just TOO much of a good thing. Of course it's good to care about people, to help others in need and to act in selfless ways AT TIMES.
But with Self-sacrifice it's at the expense of our own well-being and causes us to ignore and suppress our own feelings and needs.
Where does it come from?
Self Sacrifice starts in families where a parent or parents were in need of help in some way.
They might have been disabled, emotionally immature, emotionally unstable or struggling with addiction.
Whatever the circumstances were, as a child you might have had to look after your siblings or parents in some way.
Maybe you had to listen to your parent's emotional problems, or take over adult responsibilities at a young age.
Or perhaps you had to pick a drunk parent up off the floor or bring them home from the pub. You probably had to protect your younger siblings in some way - taking them to school, helping them with your homework, making sure they ate and had clean clothes
Your role and identity became that of carer and you probably heard comments like "you're such a good boy / girl - what would I do without you?
You started to associate self worth and value with ' helping others and being a good person' and this belief became deeply embedded in your subconscious brain along with " I must put other's before myself" and " My needs are not as important as other people's"
With self-sacrifice, the cracks usually start to show later in life.
How it affects us
We start to feel tired and worn out from all the running around and helping other people. More and more people start to rely on us for help and we can end up end up running on empty.
Because others don't give to the extent that we do - anytime we actually ask someone for help we find that people don't reciprocate to the same extent.
This can cause us to feel resentful, unappreciated and undervalued.
But the thing is - because we have identified with not needing others and being able to cope - we find it very difficult to say anything.
It goes against the core of who we are.
On top of this, we're likely to start feeling a deep feeling of emptiness - we have ignored our own needs and desires for so long that we aren't even sure what they are.
All these feelings start to build up - the stress, tiredness, emptiness, resentment, and probably confusion as to what's going on.
Often at this stage we might start using something to make us feel better, medication, food, alcohol or other drugs, which just adds to the problem.
The effect on our health can be quite serious.
A lot of the clients I work with who have Self-sacrifice have auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
The constant busyness means our stress response is always elevated, which in turn means our adrenal glands wear out and our immune system is constantly compromised.
Self sacrificers often have a lot of suppressed or repressed anger - which we now know can contribute to the development of certain cancers.
We often get to the stage where there is just nothing left to give.
If you identify with this schema - check out our online programme, which will take you through a process to help you systematically reduce this schema and the effect it's having on your life.