Dear Harlan: I am always the person people go to for help and advice. I swear I get at least three texts or calls a day from people in crisis. I drop everything to help. I want to be there for the people who need me. Lately, I’m finding it hard to take care of myself. I’m carrying all of their problems with me. None of my friends ask me how I’m doing. It all pours out on me. How can I start taking care of myself without abandoning them? I feel bad when I think about not taking the call or answering the text. It’s affecting my happiness.
— Always There
Dear Always There: You’re so kind, but you’re way too generous. You need to be more selfish. Being selfish is not a bad thing. It’s a healthy thing. It’s why the airplane safety video tells you to put your own mask on first. The stronger and healthier you feel in your skin, the more available and helpful you can be for others. The beauty of your discovery is that you see the problem. You can help yourself without abandoning or ignoring everyone. You can do it while showing the people who rely on you the power of getting help. Connect with your friends when they aren’t in need. Share how you have been so eager to help others that you haven’t been taking care of yourself. Put together a plan. Figure out what you need and who can help you. It could be therapy, self-care (yoga, meditation, journaling, etc.), support groups, etc. Be honest with the people who lean on you. Let them know that you’re working on you. Suggest other people and places where they can find help and support. While you are an amazing resource, there are other people who can help them. Work on you. Take care of yourself. Then help others.