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Overserving others, especially as women, is so deeply engrained in us that we often don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Have you ever:

  • Said yes to helping a friend, even though it meant not having time to run your own errands?
  • Agreed to an early meeting, even though you’ve been exhausted for weeks?
  • Said yes to a deadline you knew was unrealistic?
  • Said, ‘don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it’ – to a partner, friend, or colleague?

This list of possible scenarios goes on. And while attending to and even anticipating the needs of others can make us feel good because we’re helping someone, putting those needs before our own can leave us suffering from burnout – including depression, anxiety, and exhaustion.

Here’s the thing: Overserving others often leads to undeserving ourselves.

This happens at work, whether we’re employed professionals or business owners, with friends, and even at home with our partners and children.

Self-care is all the rage these days. “You can’t pour from an empty cup” has become the hottest cliche. #SelfCareSunday is trending on Instagram, and even in the entrepreneurship world the focus lately has shifted from “hustle harder” to “work smarter.”

They’re trending topics because so many of us need to hear them!

But beyond just hearing them, more importantly, we need to remember to act on them.

This doesn’t mean only working 2 hours a day when you have 8 hours of work to do, or having a bubble bath on Sunday because Instagram Influencers told you to. Rather, it means putting your needs first on a more consistent basis. Learning to say ‘No’; without needing to explain or justify why.

I think, as women especially, we fear saying No to people because we don’t want to upset or disadvantage them. But what happens instead is we disadvantage ourselves. When we say yes to helping a friend move, we say no to a beach day with our family. When we say yes to an early meeting at work, we say no to getting 8 hours of sleep.

I’m not suggesting we stop being good friends and neighbours, or get ourselves fired from our jobs – certainly not! That doesn’t serve us either. But we need to tip the scales back in our direction. There’s a reason why, on airplanes, you’re always told to put your own mask on first. 

Only when we’re at our best, can we truly help others.

For more tips and advice on setting boundaries, follow me on Instagram and watch for my course launch coming soon!