I value being a mother and a parent. I value being a good wife. I care about being a good daughter. Ironically, it’s these values around relationships that cause challenges for so many women.

It’s about being a good person, right?  So of course I’m going to go over and above and volunteer for this school function or fundraiser. Of course I really want to help, to be active in the community.  Or perhaps I’ll work an extra shift at the family business.  Or maybe I’ll shuttle the kids around for the fourth time this week.  We’re all in this together, right?  And I’m supporting the relationships I care about.

I hear this from so many of the women I work with, and there’s a point where I have to push back and ask them: is it at the total expense of your wellbeing? Is it at the detriment of your emotional, physical, or spiritual self? 

Your loving service to these relationships gets to a point where it’s just sucking you dry. The things that you are doing to help others gets so taxing that you don’t get to feel good about them.  You’re depleted.

These women know they have a problem, or else they wouldn’t be sitting down to talk with me, and yet they’re not talking with anyone else about these issues.  They could barely talk with me about it.  They feel less-than for admitting they can’t do it all.  They feel overwhelmed and as if they are failing.

I use the conversation we’re having to reverse engineer the process they’ve been living in. They start to see these patterns and realize what they’ve been doing from a place of good intention, from good values. Then they connect the dots and realize, “Now I get why I’m doing that. I really believed that that’s just what I was supposed to do.”

Maybe what they take on goes back early on when they were little, values they accepted because their role models messaged that this is how we’re supposed to show up in life. This is just what we’re supposed to do.  While the values of being supportive and helpful are good, the life model wasn’t clear enough. 

We take a look at it and we find a healthy way to deal with it. Maybe there’s some kind of component of healing that has to happen, so we talk about those different components. The key is to have this conversation, to come to an understanding of what’s driving this over-giving behavior. 

This conversation, and others, are happening at my private Facebook community that is dedicated to encouraging our relationships with ourselves and others.  If you can relate to the issue this article is focused on, and would like more support, I invite you to join me at the community.

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