… and why you can’t stop looking out for yourself.
If you’ve have been in this type of friendship, relationship, working environment for a while, you are probably a very caring and patient person.
That is wonderful and very kind. But the truth is, you have to look out for your own well-being as well.
You may get fulfillment from helping the other person. If you can honestly regard the other person’s self-loathing as just a quirk you can deal with at little cost to yourself, that’s awesome. But if you find you are sacrificing too much of your own well-being in service of their needs; if you’re frustrated or if you feel that your own needs are being neglected or suppressed, something has to give.
Some red flags to look out for:
- If the self-loathing person in your life finds something missing in him or herself, he or she may rely on you to fill that void. This may feel good at first because most of us like to feel needed. If taken too far, it can turn into excessive neediness or dependency, leaving you feeling less appreciated for who you are.
- It can be difficult to communicate with the self-loathing person in your life if he or she insists on reading the worst into things you say because of projecting his or her own feelings of inadequacy onto you. You may find yourself closely monitoring what you say, possibly even letting communication decline altogether as it grows more frustrating and seemingly pointless. For example, the self-loathing person in your life may not handle praise well, either rejecting it (“Oh, I’m not that smart”), minimizing it (“I had a good day, but surely that won’t happen again.”), or diverting it elsewhere (“Sure, but look how much better you did”). You want to encourage this person, especially if it may help lessen his or her self-loathing, but it is hard to maintain it for long if your partner continues to reject your support.
- Similarly, the self-loathing person in your life may not ask for help when he or she clearly needs it. He or she may not feel worthy of your care and not want to impose on you. Ironically, this can coincide with neediness—the self-loathing person may strongly desire some things from you while rejecting others.
It is extremely difficult to see a person you care for suffering. It is even worse when you try to help but are rejected, especially when you strongly believe that you can help if he or she would only let you.