Identify and put your needs ahead of those of others


  1. Identify any covert contracts between you and your partner
    What do you give to your partner with the expectation that they’ll reciprocate? What do you expect from them in return? Write this information down and share it you’re your partner. Ask them what it feels like to respond to an unclear agenda.
  2. Identify your caretaking behavior and take a break from them
    Do you give to others the things you want to give or do you give what the receiver needs? Does your giving come from a place of emptiness? Do you give with unconscious strings attached? Identify any behavior that corresponds to these questions and then stop giving completely for a while (except to young, dependent children). Tell people close to you what you’re doing so they won’t be confused. Observe their reactions as well as your feelings.
  3. Observe how you play the emotional victim
    Identify the ways you hurt those you love. For example: Do you make hurtful jokes? Do you criticize them in public? Do you allow frustration to build up until you blow up at them? Do you withdraw or threaten to leave? Ask the people you love to give you feedback about your caretaking and victim behavior. Though this information may be difficult to hear, it can help you break out of the victim cycle.
  4. Decide to put yourself first
    For the next week, decide to put yourself first in everything that you do. Instead of buying your girlfriend a gift, buy one for yourself. Instead of going out clubbing with friends over the weekend, spend one day just relaxing in the house and pampering yourself. If your wife isn’t keen on going on a retreat with you, go by yourself. Tell people what you’re doing and ask a trusted friend to support you in this process. After the week is over, ask people what it was like for them when you put yourself first.  


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