We seek security by making ourselves indispensable. In a recent post, I shared my fear that if I were to turn down an opportunity to work, I would be replaced. Upon closer examination, what’s really going on beneath the surface here is that I felt insecure about my performance at work. I lacked confidence as someone then newly entering the workforce, surrounded by peers who were more than 20 years my senior. I sought security in working myself to the bone to make myself indispensable to my company.
I was so tired and miserable all the time. In making myself indispensable at work, I was treating my self as dispensable! My poor abused body and mind have taken over a year and a half to rebuild. At some point, we must ask ourselves, is the cost really worth it? Do we want to treat ourselves as dispensable just to be needed by others?
On this, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“There is nothing as secure as being needed . . . or is there?
There is nothing as draining as being needed. We have often made ourselves indispensable at work and at home so that we would feel secure and wanted. Deep down it was inconceivable that people in our lives could love us for who we are. Even if they might, could we afford to take the risk and let their love come to us?
Of course our children need us, but often much less than we wish. Unfortunately, trying to make ourselves indispensable is not relegated to the home and women who work in the home. Often we equate being indispensable with being secure. In fact, we confuse the two.”
I’m not the only woman to do this. My sister recently confessed that in making herself indispensable to her family, she had spoiled her husband and adult sons so much that they were no longer independent and autonomous at home. Instead, they relied on her for laundry, meals, and basic household chores. They were incapable of caring for themselves.
Our actions often have unexpected and unintended consequencses. While we get security from being needed, it is also exhausting and a downright drain on our energy. Women, especially mothers, prioritize caring for their family’s needs over their own health and well-being many times. We want to be needed, because it feels good to be needed, but if we don’t make time for ourselves, it can depelete us of all energy. We must not neglect ourselves in striving to be needed by others. We need our time and effort more! We need ourselves the most!