Reference is made to my hundreds of EP coaching cases for this discussion on ““Sacrificing for others” – A virtue or Psychological Problem?”
On the on-set, most people will consider “Sacrificing for others” as a virtue, to be admired or modeled after. They consider this as a selfless act, a heroic act, an ‘enlightened behavior’!
But this can be a mis-guided perception and belief system.
Examples on “Sacrificing for others” can be
- Parents sacrificing for the children
- Adult children sacrifice their overseas career or business for the sake of the aged parents
- Husband or wife sacrificing for the spouse
- In friendship, sacrificing for the sake of a good friend
- Sacrificing for employer or staff ..
Implications in “Sacrificing for others” are:
- Suppression of one’s needs for the sake of others
- Sacrifice with hardship with the hope / expectation of better return or gratitude from those the sacrifice is made
The premise of such implications is already on the wrong track, psychologically speaking.
In the case of suppression of one’s own needs, there can be accumulation of negative emotions like not feeling happy, not feeling joyful, doing something against one’s own wishes or preference. Over time, surely such constant state of unhappiness, or forced obligations will make the person depressed, or lower their health immune system and develop into sickness.
In the case of sacrifice with hardship with the hope / expectation of better return or gratitude from those the sacrifice is made, many tragic life dramas, like madness or suicides, can occur when the other party does not show gratitude, or whose ‘negative’ behavior is contradictory to the person’s preferred outcome.
It is an illusion that ‘sacrificing oneself’ is a demonstration of love, i.e. equate sacrifice with love.
It goes against the principle of Self-love, suppressing one’s needs and hurting oneself, and not able to love oneself. A suicidal person does not know how to love his or her own live, thus hurts himself or herself. There is nothing noble about such act, certainly it is not a virtue not knowing how to love oneself.
How can denying one’s own needs in the name of ‘sacrificing oneself’ be a noble act.
It goes against the principle of un-conditional love, as hope for good return or expectation is with string attached. Such conditional act, so called sacrificing love, can put enormous pressure and guilt feelings on the part of the recipients who seem to benefit from the sacrifices made by the person(s) who profess ‘such love’. This in turn can create another set of psychological problem, e.g. living in guilt, to the recipient-parties.
What a negative virtuous circle get created by treating ‘sacrificing for others’ as an act of virtue.
There are cases whereby ‘sacrificing for others” become an excuse for lacking will power to pursue one’s own goals in life, or simply do not know what they want in life.
We need a shift in paradigm, not ‘sacrifice for others’ but either a) find a more creative win win situations to do something to satisfy all parties concerned, and / or b) really find joy and happiness in the very things that need to be done, and not consider as hardship, without conditions attached, truly demonstrating unconditional love.
Andrew – EP Coach