People are merely bearers of responsibility. Whether that be through work, family, or relationships, we carry this heavy burden as human beings to neglect our needs and desires for others. For the past few years, self-care has now developed into multiple variations and methods such as therapy, journaling and more. These forms of expression take action against our self-destructive tendencies that could hinder our journey to self-awareness.
Why do we feel responsible for other people’s emotions more than our own?
As a society, we have all silently but collectively agreed it’s selfish to put ourselves first, even at the expense of our wellbeing. There is nothing wrong with being reliable—however, by giving too much, you start wanting the validation or praise you receive from them. It becomes codependency masked behind people-pleasing. In Lauren Sapala’s “You’re Not Responsible For Other People’s Feelings”, she hints that people have gaslighted themselves into believing having personal needs are inconvenient. Ultimately, this could lead to two different paths; open-minded negotiation about boundaries or feeling resentment towards ourselves and/or the people in our lives. When we refuse to help someone in need and drive them to feel like a burden, we develop a sense of self-blame for being another cause for the other person’s problems.
Can I still balance my needs & someone else’s?
The majority of youth practice self-care in order to develop self-awareness and maintain a healthy mental and physical state. But we must learn how to balance our lifestyles by; not being too harsh on ourselves, while still being mindful of our own weaknesses and flaws. With that said, Sapala claims “… that keeping everyone around us happy is a fight we’ll never win” (para. 13)
The majority of young adults and adults alike stay silent in the midst of an internal and/or external conflict. By doing this, they fail to discover the mistakes to grow and better themselves. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), self-care is: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider” (para. 7). Our mental state and behaviours play an immense role in the state of our bodies. From my understanding about the way stress can physiologically affect your body, self-care is important to allow you to achieve mental clarity. According to Statistics Canada, as of 2020, youth groups are not as likely to report or have satisfactory mental health. There is a prominent difference in the positive health of young Canadians between the years 2018 and 2020, Statistics Canada states:
“All age groups except individuals aged 65 and older were less likely to report excellent or very good mental health during the COVID-19 period … [A]mong those aged 15 to 24, 42% reported excellent or very good mental health during the pandemic compared to 62% in 2018.”
In addition to this, our physical health plays a crucial role in self-care. The fight-or-flight part of our sympathetic nervous system is in association with stress. If our body is in a constant state of fight or flight due to stressors or being stressed, it suppresses our immune system, raises blood pressure and makes us noticeably fatigued. Our body is always in a state of producing energy to keep us in survival mode. When we don’t allow ourselves a chance to heal and rejuvenate, we’ll also never gain the benefits of further being aware of feelings, triggers, and how to confront and calm them when they appear.
I’m not your therapist, though I try to be.
Nevertheless, self-awareness on top of self-care is undoubtedly an afterthought in our everyday lives. No one is perfect, and we avoid confronting the issue that is our own, emotional and physical neglect. However, as humans, we are susceptible to acting as someone’s saviour, which leads us to avoid letting others know what we need or feel to subdue a defensive and/or angry reaction from them.
Essentially, several people must reciprocate the same passion and love they are willing to give to somebody or something else, to themselves as well. Generally, self-awareness acts as a guide to help us focus on what matters; it is not selfish. By removing ourselves from overwhelming situations to be a better person, we fuel our self-awareness. Taking time out of our days to regulate feelings, also means taking time to understand our needs and learn to maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves. By setting boundaries, we realize our self-worth and how we shouldn’t be sacrificing or forcing ourselves to become what someone else needs us to be.
Considerably, self-awareness is maturity, which means realizing that I’m not responsible for how other people feel. It’s never been my responsibility, or my burden to carry the weight of somebody else’s pain. Being kind to others is one thing, but being kind to myself is another, peace requires balance. As Sapala said, “in the end, we are looking to be in alignment with both our head and the actions we take. And I learned that if I am not fueling me, I have absolutely nothing left to give anyone else” (para. 26). There are numerous types of people — and some may not be as in tune with their emotions as others may be. The first step is listening to yourself. Be observant of your wants, desires, understand the senses if something doesn’t feel right. Through this, you encourage yourself to climb up in levels of self-awareness, all while caring for your needs. Overall, by noticing negative or uncomfortable emotions, we learn that their presence isn’t there to scare us, but rather, it’s there for us to learn from. Health is wealth, so invest in yourself.