Chronic Self-Sacrifice: Learn to Value Yourself

March 30, 2020
If you give yourself up to others, putting everybody's needs above your own, you could be suffering from chronic self-sacrifice.

Chronic self-sacrifice can make you lose yourself. You’re a human being and it’s normal to want to invest your time and energy in other people and things. However, you need to understand that, even if you mean well, chronic self-sacrifice will wear you out.

If you think that you’d definitely sacrifice your convictions and personal values due to what other people want or say, think again. Don’t take lightly the fact of forgoing your ideas and denying yourself due to other people.

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.”

-Ellen DeGeneres-

A woman with her hands together.

What’s chronic self-sacrifice?

Sacrificing yourself for others and giving yourself entirely to a cause can mean two things:

  • The need to overcome a conflict of values. Your own and the person or people you’re sacrificing yourself for.
  • Accepting to renounce yourself. Renouncing your ideas, needs, or wants.

Sacrifice comes when you need to renounce your well-being or stop tending to your needs for others or something. Self-sacrifice goes beyond this. It’s about giving a part of yourself.

In psychological terms, self-sacrifice consists of abandoning your personal interests for someone else’s well-being.

Since self-sacrifice consists of denying yourself certain needs or personal wants, in essence, it means giving an important part of yourself away. It consists of forgoing your dignity, and even your identity, at times.

On the other hand, self-sacrifice means that you value something or someone else much more than yourself, which speaks volumes of your solidarity and altruism.

Although people tend to value altruism, it can be taken to extreme lengths when people self-sacrifice themselves. Also, when the person doing the sacrifice loses a part of their well-being.

Therefore, self-sacrifice can sometimes be disruptive or dysfunctional for those that give everything up.

An older couple hugging.

When self-sacrifice becomes pathological altruism

The list of examples of self-sacrifice is endless. Some examples are the people who sacrifice themselves without a second thought for a certain situation, the parents that live for their children, and the people who give themselves completely to their partners, giving up on their own happiness and well-being.

In the short term, many of these behaviors aren’t problematic. They can even be considered normal and ordinary.

The problem comes when someone self-sacrifices themselves to a pathological level. These people are at risk of losing their essence.

Self-sacrifice is synonymous with undervaluing yourself. If this means a change of values and that the person thinks they’re worthless, this can become a pathological situation.

Chronic self-sacrifice can become pathological altruism, where the person believes they aren’t worthy and stops paying attention to themselves.

This loss of essence can mean that they never satisfy their own needs and, instead, put other people’s opinions above everything else. This could lead to negative thoughts.

Practically, this can put people into a state of complete lack of regard for themselves. In addition, they can lose their values, fail to think rationally, and have bad self-esteem. In short, chronic self-sacrifice can take away the characteristics that make people who they are.

“People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved.”

-Anne Sullivan-

Self-sacrifice means loving yourself as well.

How do you know if you’re giving too much?

Some signs can help you discover if you give away too much of yourself:

  • When you help someone, you realize you don’t have enough time, energy, or resources to spend on yourself.
  • When you put other people’s needs above your own, you start feeling guilty.
  • Sometimes, you feel empty inside. This suggests that you’re not satisfying your own needs of love, care, and attention.
  • You constantly feel the need to make some sort of sacrifice to keep people happy.
  • Your self-sacrifice has become a chore, while, before, it used to be something you did voluntarily.
  • Often, you find yourself saying yes when you know you should’ve said no.

Authors such as Ayn Rand propose a strategy to counter the tendency to self-sacrifice yourself: to shore up your personal and moral ambition. Basically, this means that you have to convince yourself that you’ve earned the right to feel worthy. Think highly of yourself and that nobody is more important than you.

In short, worry about yourself so you don’t lose yourself to chronic self-sacrifice. Practice so-called controlled selfishness to avoid losing yourself!