Are you in a profession where your work involves intimately caring for others? If you are a doctor, therapist, nurse, teacher, coach or other similar profession, then it is very likely that you make secret sacrifices and could be setting yourself up for some serious distress.
A secret sacrifice involves giving up and/or not pursuing a dream, possession, or way of being. Additionally, you don’t share these smothered wants with people closest to you and quite possibly don’t even fully acknowledged the sacrifice yourself.
Here’s an example: One of my past coaching clients, a physician, worked incredibly long hours, had two small children, and a happy marriage. Through our coaching work, she revealed to me that for years she’s secretly dreamed of being far more physically fit and also traveling to far away places with her medical school friends. My client had never shared these secret wants with anyone close to her. She kept these dreams to herself because it was obvious to her that there was not any room in her life for either of these things unless she was willing to step on some of the needs and wants of her two small children and husband.
Our coaching work evolved into further defining these suppressed dreams and building ways that she could begin to have these things present in her life. Also, we worked through the made-up life rules she was carrying around that her dreams were not significant and that it was her job to only care for her family and patients.
I have found evidence in personality typing theory, including the Myers Briggs, that individuals who work in profession where they nurture others are far more likely to make secret sacrifices. Why is this? The answer is simple. These individuals enter these professions as caregivers, sharing a common tendency to regularly put the needs of others before their own.
Making a secret sacrifice involves not articulating what we want or why we want it. Secret sacrifices not only deny us of something we•re longing for in our lives, they can lead to burnout, resentment, feelings of emptiness, etc. These silent dreams also drain us of our precious energy that makes the care we provide to others so special. Enormous costs are associated with secret sacrifices and caregivers would do well to avoid the drain they represent.
Coaching questions: Do you secretly dream of changing careers, going back to school, traveling the world, getting in shape, etc? What secret sacrifices are you making? If you pursued this secret want, what attribute would it bring into your life? Do you have a tendency to regularly put others before yourself to the extent of your own demise?
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Christina Lombardo, PCC, CPCC (Christina@LifeTrekCoaching.com)
LifeTrek Coaching International