What is self sacrifice?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self sacrifice is the “Sacrifice of oneself or one’s interest for others or for a cause or ideal”. This self sacrifice definition is a bit broad as it contains self sacrifice for a cause or ideal, but for the sake of this article we will be looking at self sacrifice for others.

Sacrificing yourself for others might sound like a noble thing to do for others, after all we’re encouraged not to be selfish but kind, helpful and selfless, right? Yes, we should embrace selflessness and not selfishness, however there are times when selflessness can go too far and can become a self sacrificing personality disorder. What you’ll discover in this article is that not only is self sacrificing behavior not normal, having a self-sacrificing personality is very unhealthy.

How do you know if you are the self sacrificing personality type?

Not everyone is willing to go see a psychologist to know what is a self sacrificing personality disorder or to take a self sacrificing personality disorder test. But just how can you tell if you’re just very compassionate or you’re exhibiting traits of self sacrificing behavior.

  1. Do you say Yes to everything everyone asks every time?
  2. Do you feel guilty or sinful when you prioritize your needs above the needs of others?
  3. Do you believe your sacrifices are not voluntary but a command?
  4. Do you always tend to be the one giving the most without receiving in your relationships?
  5. Do you spend all your time and resources on others with very little for yourself?

If your answer to all of these self-sacrifice examples is Yes, then it is most likely that you are not just unselfish but you are sacrificing yourself for others.

Reasons Why People Self Sacrifice

Why do people self sacrifice? Why do people behave in such a way when it is obviously harmful to them?

These thoughts may have crossed your mind a few times if you have recognized self-sacrificing behavior in yourself. You may be wondering why you behave the way you do and why, despite your best efforts, you are unable to change it.

Self sacrifice psychology have identified some of these to be reasons why people self sacrifice;

  1. You feel good doing it:

Everybody gets their dopamine hit doing different things, for some people it’s drugs, for some it’s sex, and for some it is sacrificing themselves for others. Self sacrifice just makes you feel good, you feel happy knowing that your sacrifice made someone happy and it doesn’t matter if it’s at a huge cost to yourself, you feel like you’ve done something good for the world and your inner voice tells you that you’re a good person. And just like the people who take drugs get addicted to it for that good feeling, you also are addicted to self sacrifice because it makes you feel good and who doesn’t want to feel good all the time?

  1. You just can’t say no to people.

Some people are so scared of saying no to anybody that they would do just about anything anyone asks of them. This may also be the case for you, saying no to someone can make you feel guilty, selfish, bad, hurtful and you don’t want to feel these negative emotions, so in your effort to avoid all these emotions you end up saying yes to everything everyone asks every time because you just can’t forgive yourself if you hurt someone when you say no to them.

  1. Some Circumstances Made You Fall Into The Habit.

For some people their self sacrificing personality wasn’t always part of them, they only gained it in the face of some circumstances that made it necessary to self sacrifice. Take for example, someone who had to take care of a sick relative with a terminal illness. Conditions such as that one can actually condition your mind to think that you always have to take care of others and believe that others are always more important than you and this will definitely make you stop prioritizing your needs over time.

What are the differences between self sacrificing and giving?

The line between self sacrificing behavior and just being nice can seem very thin at times but you can be sure that there’s a difference between them.

Simply put, giving is the desire to share something you have with someone else, sacrificing on the other hand is more forced, it’s not much of a desire to share as it is a decision to lack something so that another person can have it.

The difference between giving and sacrifice can perhaps be clearer in the fact that true giving comes with a sense of receiving at the same time, there’s a kind of joy and fulfillment that comes with the feeling of giving or sharing something with another person. Any giving that is not accompanied cannot be described as true giving, it is plain sacrificing.

Another difference between the two is that sacrificing ultimately leads to resentment and anger, when you sacrifice instead of giving, it may take a while but eventually you start to feel drained, and angry at those you sacrifice for when you get nothing from them in return. This shows that sacrificing is indeed not giving, because when you truly give you expect nothing back, your giving is born out of your desire to just help out or share something without hoping for anything in return, not even a thank you.

How to stop self sacrificing?

Now that you know how unhealthy self sacrificing is and the difference between giving and sacrificing, the next thing is to know how to stop sacrificing yourself.

Of course it’s never easy to overcome a habit, and it won’t be easy stopping self sacrifice but with a lot of mindfulness and self acceptance it is possible.

If you’re ready to change from sacrificing to giving then these are things you need to do;

  1. Prioritize your needs.

It is not a bad thing to meet your own needs too, you’re human and you need some things just like the people you’re trying to help, so it’s not bad to take care of your own needs first.

Mind you, we said needs and not wants, needs are things that are vitally important to you and your well-being, you can do without wants, so if what you’re sacrificing is a want and not a need then you can let go of those wants for others. But don’t sacrifice your needs for someone else, you’re hindering your own growth by doing that.

  1. Don’t Enable Dependency In Others.

When people know that you can’t refuse a request, they’ll take advantage of you and be totally dependent on you for both their wants and needs, even when they have the power and ability to meet their own needs and wants.

Don’t be an enabler of laziness, if someone can get what they need by themselves then it’s okay to say no to them. Helping people who can help themselves is robbing them of their own growth, if you help them with their responsibilities all the time then they will never learn to be responsible for themselves.

  1. Set limits for your giving.

Giving without limits is the same thing as not being able to say no. You should set out some important things that you won’t just sacrifice for anyone else, things that no matter who asks you’ll always say no. Doing this with mindfulness will make sure that it’s easy for you to refuse when someone requests the things on your limit list. Set a standard for yourself, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything.

The question, “what is self sacrifice?”has been answered and we have also shown you how you can change from a chronic sacrificial person to a true giver, all that is left for you to do is follow these steps and keep following them, we hope that these steps will guide you into being a happy giver and help you get a high self esteem.