Why do women always put the needs of others before their own? - Women's Agenda

Why do women always put the needs of others before their own?

Picture the safety demonstration that flight attendants perform at the start of a flight.

‘In the case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop from a compartment above your heads. Fit the mask to yourself first, and then assist others’.

If we had our children or loved ones with us, who were incapacitated or unable to help themselves in some way, I ask you this; how many of us would obey the flight attendants’ instructions? I am almost prepared to bet my life (and my own oxygen mask) that the answer is ‘none’.

The reason? An ingrained culture where we, as women, are expected to put others before ourselves; personally and professionally. Too often we are guilty of adhering to this culture without question, and being our own worst enemies. It may not be conscious, and it may not be intentional, but my goodness we are so very good at it.

We are so used to being responsible for the needs of others: for our families; our partners; our staff. We are used to looking after problems both at home and at work. We make sure budgets balance – whether that be on a micro or macro level.

We run households, corporate divisions, our own businesses. We look after the development and growth of our children, work colleagues, up and coming protégées – and usually as a result, we are the person who gets shoved to the background and left to not develop or grow. And in many ways, it is our own fault.

Too frequently, women self-sabotage through giving too much to others and not being kind enough to ourselves. And because it is self-sabotage, we are the ones who need to fix it.

Now is the time for us to say ‘enough’. This is not being selfish, it is the essential self-care which improves our wellbeing and helps us grow. We have to be responsible for ourselves and take action when things become overwhelming. We do ourselves, and everyone else in our lives, a disservice when we refuse to admit we are pushing ourselves to the limit.

Take a break. Recharge the batteries. It may be for half an hour, it may be for a week. But don’t feel guilty for putting yourself first. Because in the end a little TLC will benefit everyone in your life. Especially you.

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