Far too often, we hear a narrative of sacrifice all to accomplish your goals. Society tells us that if we do not make sacrifices, then we don’t want our goal bad enough. I believe that this is a damaging mindset which leads to burnout and can damage a persons mental health by causing or contributing to the idea that there will never be “enough” for praise.
I recognized this issue fairly recently, after years of constantly sacrificing my health and well being for the sake of chasing my goals. I went as far as to tattoo “No Sacrifice, No Victory” on my arm. At the time I got that tattoo (Circa 2012) , I was feeling unmotivated and lacked the mental strength to push toward my goals. I used it as a driver to help push me to start taking action on things, versus saying “I can’t do that”, followed by a list of B.S. excuses.
Around that same time, I was also in psychotherapy and had shown my therapist my new tattoo. I’ll never forget this: she had asked what it meant to me, and I explained, and she followed up with a question I wasn’t expecting: “I understand that you want to use this phrase as a motivator to keep going during hard times, but how far are you going to take this?”. I remember feeling quite confused, like “How could this be a bad thing?”. Well, I was in for a real surprise.
I used this phrase as a way to keep my head above water during times I felt like quitting. I used this as a way to keep me humble, and to not complain about my hardships as I knew someone somewhere always had it harder than I. But slowly, overtime, I started to use it as a way to discredit my excuses for wanting mental health days, days off, or breaks which lead to many days of exhaustion and outbursts due to my overwhelm and anxiety, and feelings like I would never be good enough to reach my goals because I was not willing to sacrifice my time. I started to see breaks as a sign weakness, so I would work on something, anything during majority of my free time.
But this trickled into a poor habit, and I always ending up being so tired. Then it lead to guilt because I was taking a break, or day off. I constantly saw business speakers doing talks and saying things like “If you don’t make sacrifices, then you don’t want it bad enough”. I’d see quotes on social media with a similar phrase or tone. I began feeling a failure because I wanted “me time”.
Now, I realize: You cannot serve others when your cup is not full. You cannot 100% be of service to others, when you do not have 100% of yourself to give. An investment in self-care is an investment in yourself and your health in mind, body and in spirit. Taking 10 minutes of your free time have a peaceful, hot shower without interruptions and while listening to your favorite songs is not selfish: it’s self-care. Taking a break to watch something funny on YouTube is not laziness, it’s self-care. You need to relax, smile, laugh and be happy. These are things that keep your mental wellness up so that you may work to serve others and share your love and care more fully and you should NEVER feel guilty about wanting to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.