Human Giver Syndrome: The Real Reason We Are So Tired
So many women are live in a permanently exhausted state. This tiredness isn’t one that can be cured with a few early nights. This type of tiredness is not about rest. Instead, it comes from carrying an unseen weight around for too long. It is a tiredness that comes from the burnout caused by being a human giver. Someone who works hard to look after those around them and support them even when they are exhausted themselves.
Why We are so Tired
In reality, our tiredness often comes from emotionally holding space for others. Whether it is about remembering things that need to happen or being permanently available whenever you are needed. It is also about being prepared for whatever happens. When you are a human giver you put your own feelings aside, taking a deep breath and carrying on. The most tiring thing is sucking it up and putting on a brave face on repeatedly. Being a giver means always being considerate, and keeping everyone happy. The tiredness comes from doing what you should over what you want repeatedly day in day out. It is the organising, the making time and the caring for others regardless of how much you need to take care of yourself.
This burnout comes from never really switching off. There is always that niggle or doubt at the back of your mind. It is as if your mind is always running lots of open tabs in the background. It is constantly scanning for something or someone that needs your attention. It’s holding each nagging doubt and critic in your head. Are you doing enough, are you good enough? It is giving, even when you have nothing left. Putting the needs of others before your own even when that has a negative effect on you.
Human Giver Syndrome
Emily and Amelie Nagoski’s book Burnout define these feelings and situations as human giver syndrome. Human giver syndrome is the belief that you have a moral obligation to give every drop of yourself in support of others even when that is to your own detriment. When I became a mum I developed a bad case of human giver syndrome. The reason so many of the people who feel this way are women is because society links womanhood with caring, giving and nurturing. We often pick up the message that a good daughter cares for her parents, a good mother puts her children’s needs first. A good girl is considerate of her friend’s needs. Being female often means being encouraged and praised for giving and caring. We unconsciously pick up the message that that is what we are supposed to be doing.
When we feel burnt out we start to question ourselves? Why am I so exhausted? Why do I get so frustrated with everything I need to do? You’re doing everything you think you should be doing but you feel so exhausted and burnt out. It’s not about you. It has never been about you and what you believe you lack. The messages we learn about what it means to be a good woman are the problem.
Being a good person does not come from how much you give. Being a good mother does not come from giving your children all you have to the point of becoming invisible yourself. We do not need to live up to this impossible high expectation to pass as a good person. Your worth and value does not come from how productive or giving you are. Always remember that you are allowed to matter. You are allowed to have boundaries, limits and needs. Saying no when you need to is not selfish, it is self-preservation.
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Originally published at https://www.lynnemcleanbrown.com on January 29, 2021.