What's the New in Your New Year

What’s the New you want to see this New Year? Sometimes people feel too afraid to make changes. It can seem be easier to hide behind a bad relationship, a bad job, or a bad lifestyle than it is to make new choices.

In my forthcoming book, Stop Giving It Away (Spring 2015), I introduce what’s called Detrimental Caretaking. Most women fall into the category of moderate detrimental caretaking, and it goes something like this. They …

  1. Complain that “there aren’t enough hours in the day.”

  2. Avoid conflict or saying “no” to others or demands placed on them.

  3. Avoid saying “yes” to things that are good for them or things they want, if it means sacrificing others needs for themselves.

  4. Draw unclear or no boundaries between their own needs and the needs of others.

  5. Have no one to delegate to, or don’t know how to delegate. Their motto is, “I’ll do it myself,” but it stems more from helplessness or frustration than empowerment.

  6. Have learned to skimp on or skip their basic needs — for well-being, nutrition, exercise and rest.

  7. Base their identity and worth on their giving to their spouse, possessions, friends, jobs, or the causes they lend their time to.

Detrimental Caretaking is about giving it away to the point that we lose ourselves. Once we’ve lost so much, we’re really not good to ourselves or to the people around us because we walk around feeling tired, sad, mad and resentful.

What are we giving away? Our energy, power, ideas, time, wishes, dreams, desires, comfort and accolades—any one or more make up most of every person. The “IT” in Stop Giving It Away is different for everyone. “It” could mean the freedom to do things you enjoy, honoring and exploring your true talents, or feeling comfortable being uniquely you. Sometimes “it” means your voice or your self-respect. Sometimes “it” refers to sex—but really, sex only falls into giving it away territory when you lose your self-esteem or self-respect in the process.

All women give it away. In the course of my work, I’ve discovered a pervasive, troubling pattern: that women, so prone to be the caretakers in any relationship and any interaction, often don’t know how to set personal boundaries or say no to their spouses, their bosses, or anyone else. Working to the point of depletion they “give it away.”

Why do we do this? Staying stuck in past patterns can feel comfortable, like an old sweatshirt you put on when it’s cold—no need to change, face fears or get out there and challenge yourself. Just stay stuck.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face … we must do that which we think we cannot.”

What kind of changes do you want for your life in the New Year?