Why being overly independent and highly capable might be wearing you down

Many of us admire and look up to the women who are highly capable, independent and strong.  We praise her, for juggling all the balls in her life and holding everything together while being there for everyone else.

We glorify self-sacrifice, getting on with it, holding it together and showing no signs of weakness.

But let's get real here. I want to peel back what's happening under the surface for these woman, who might be you.

Image Source - Slphotography @depositphotos

Image Source - Slphotography @depositphotos

I understand this woman intimately. Because she is me.

I learnt from a young age to take care of myself and my three younger siblings. I was a highly capable and responsible caretaker, mums little helper. My role in the family was to be useful and help take care of everyone. My parents didn't need to worry too much about me, because I was the good, helpful, responsible little girl and I received love, attention and validation for being this way. I learnt that being helpful and useful got me love and being needy was a weakness and did not. 

Understanding how your early upbringing and childhood conditioning forms the subconscious blueprint, beliefs and inbuilt programs in your brain for how you will function throughout your life. 

Fast forward into my adult life and I'm a strong, independent, and highly functioning woman, which yes is a strength.

However, I want to shine the light on some of the ways this can also be harmful and dysfunctional to yourself and your relationships. You may relate to some or all of what I share, this simply comes from my own direct experience combined with hours of learning and research around this topic.

13 ways that being capable and independent can drain your life-force energy

1. Being overly focused on other people's lives and problems

This often means you are completely unaware of your own wants and needs. You've been so focused outwardly on others that you don't even know how to connect to what you want and need to take care of you, and live a life that feels good to you.

2. Feel an urge and responsibility to help others

You'll drop your needs and priorities for others (even if you don't know what your priorities are), you feel an overbearing responsibility to help fix problems or diffuse other peoples pain and suffering. 

3. You feel important and worthy because of what you do and achieve

Your self-worth is attached to how successful, useful and helpful you are or what you can do for others.  When you were conditioned this way from childhood, it makes it really difficult to stop doing so much, when this is the source of feeling good about yourself. Don't despair, you can change this by learning to source your sense of self-worth internally, rather than externally.

4. Unaware of and denial of your own feelings

All you know how to do is tune into the feelings and needs of those around you. I bet you do this, without even realising it. I had no awareness of this because it was so "normal" to me. As a result you have no idea of what you are feeling, even though feelings are coming up, you deny them because you have no idea how to understand what they mean. 

5. Can't say no

As a result, you'll often end up doing things that you don't really want to do, all at your own expense, sacrificing your energy, time and resources. Essentially when you can't say no, you're making other peoples needs more important than your own.

6. Your cup is empty

Because you are channeling all of your life force energy into everyone and everything else, you have nothing left in the tank for you, leaving you feeling empty, depressed and depleted.

7. Illness, burnout, depression, anxiety

Simply put, when you don't take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually you will manifest illness, injury and sickness. These are all signals from your body desperately trying to get your attention - which you usually don't notice - because your attention is focused on outside of yourself on everyone else. 

8. Feeling like a door mat

Everyone comes to you for help, advice, support and comfort. You're always available for everyone, but left wondering who's there for you when you need help. You might often think "what about me"?

9. You are a people pleaser

You receive positive reinforcement and love for what you give and can do which makes people happy. You don't want to displease others or receive their rejection or withdrawal of love, therefore you are subconsciously driven to please and make people happy. This can be sneaky and you might not even realise the subtle ways in which you do it, like holding back expressing your true feelings because you don't want to be rejected if they don't agree or like what you say.

10. Hide your true feelings

Because you're a people pleaser and deeply afraid of rejection (removal of love) you hide your true feelings and your perceived weaknesses, putting on a tough face pretending you're ok. You never learnt how to be in contact with your feelings because you were too busy focusing on and providing for everyone else.

11. You find it difficult to ask for and receive help

You power on doing everything yourself, leading to burn out, resentment and exhaustion. You feel weak or like a burden if you have to ask for help, thinking you should be able to do it yourself. You reject help, because you are independent and you don't need help from anyone. There's a sense of pride in how capable you are. Not allowing help and support just makes life really isolating and hard, trust me!

12. Over-functioning allows others to under-function

The more you over-function in your life, the more others in your life under-function. To allow others to step up and support you, you need to stop being so fiercely independent and capable. Allow others to support you, so you don't have to burn out doing everything yourself. You actually help and empower those around you, by allowing them to take greater responsibility and allowing yourself space for essential self-care.

13. You'll often blame others for how you feel

You will feel resentful that others are not stepping up to the mark, doing, more, taking the lead. You feel like you have to do everything yourself. It's easier to point the finger and blame everyone else, rather than take responsibility for your own feelings. However the more you focus on how others are the problem, the more you remain stuck in the problem.

So what can you do to change this?

You'll see the common thread through all of the above is an extreme focus on others and disconnection from self.

So what's needed is a switch of focus into self-observation, and understanding of yourself in how you are responsible for creating this dynamic in your life. The benefit of learning how to connect with yourself, your inner experience, your feelings, your needs, dreams and desires is that you can stop wearing yourself down doing things you don't want to do, and invest your time and energy into what is really important and life-giving to you.

The only person you have control over is you. And you've been spending all your energy focusing on and trying to control others. So an internal shift from others to self is essential to start breaking this pattern so that you can stop feeling exhausted and burnt out and instead allow yourself to feel supported by life and others.

If this resonates with you and you've been struggling at it alone, when is now a great time to allow yourself to be supported in reconnecting to you so you can live your life true to you. You can book a coaching session with me below or find out more about working with me

I've totally got you on this, the journey to change is much lighter when you don't have the pressure on yourself to go it alone.

Want to book a session with me via Skype?

You can do that here.