Have you ever come across a quote and have it stick in your mind? That recently happened to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about its meaning and life application. For days, I contemplated this quote and its meaning. What does it even mean to set yourself on fire?
What Does it Mean to Set Yourself on Fire?
I hope it is obvious that we are not talking about literally setting yourself on fire. If you have been doing this, please stop…it is dangerous! To set yourself on fire is a metaphor for sacrificing yourself or to diminish your self worth for the sake of others.
Do you tremble at the thought of saying no to someone or do you allow others to treat you poorly while you bend over backwards to serve them? Have you found yourself being the only person initiating gatherings with a “dear” friend? If so, you have been using way too many matches!
Setting Myself on Fire
Before we talk about how to stop setting yourself on fire, let me tell you a little story. This is part of my story and how I set myself on fire for trying to get my own father to love me.
Before the age of 5, I was a Daddy’s girl. I remember adoring him and following him everywhere. After the age of 5, that had all changed as he decided that he no longer wanted to be married and he left. The problem was that he not only left my mother, he left me and my sister as well. He wanted nothing to do with us and he disappeared.
Yes, he disappeared and no one knew where he was. Then after years away, he just reappeared one day and claimed to have changed and that he would stay. Then in a few days, he disappeared again. This cycle continued throughout my entire childhood.
Everytime he came around, I accepted his proclamations of love and believed that he was going to stay. Every single time, without exception, I was left to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart.
Stoking the Embers
Fast forward into my early twenties when I moved to a different state because I wanted to have a relationship with him. Yes, I did this! After all of the hurt and tears, I left everything I had known because I knew that I could win him over.
As everyone expected, except me, my father rejected me again. This event stoked the embers until a raging fire roared with my hurt and pain. I didn’t take it out on him, I took it out on myself. You can read more about the fall out of this event in my mental health story, How My Mind Became My Enemy.
I set myself on fire for someone that didn’t care about me at all. I set myself on fire because I felt like I was lacking in some way.
As you can tell from my story, I put myself in a position that was doomed to fail. If I had looked at the past outcomes, I would have put down the matches and cut my losses before the fire was set.
I think we all do things for approval that is detrimental to our physical and mental health. We want to be liked and appreciated and we will do what it takes to get that. But how many times must the flames envelope us before we see that there are too many ashes to have a positive outcome? How many fire extinguishers must we go through before we realize that we are only creating a mess of our lives?
Let’s put away the matches!
How Stop Setting Yourself on Fire
1. Stop Seeking Others Approval
The only approval you need is your own! If you like where your life is going, then stay on the path. Do not change directions because others feel they know what is best for you.
2. Don’t Let the Actions of Others Determine Your Value
When someone rejects you, it really isn’t about you. It’s about them and their own limitations. A person that is willing to leave you feeling lost doesn’t get to determine your value.
3. Learn to Set Your Boundaries
Making a decision to say no to others can be a minefield in itself but learning to set your boundaries can be empowering. Being able to recognize your limits and to stay within them is a huge part of living your best life. By not allowing others to control your time and energy is important to your mental health.
4. Be Honest with Yourself about Your Relationships
If a relationship is not healthy for you then it is adding no value to your life. If a person is only being around you for what they can get out of you, they are bleeding you dry. You are allowing them to deplete your energy for no purpose that benefits you. It is best to walk away from these types of relationships before they leave you in the ashes!
5. Stop Being a People Pleaser
You can not and will not make everyone happy. It is not humanly possible to be that perfect for everyone all the time. Stop making choices and decisions about your life based upon the wants and needs of others. When you make decisions, it is important to instead determine how this choice adds to you life.
6. Realize There Will be a Fall Out
After you have stopped setting yourself on fire, there will be fallout. Realize that in spite of this difficult time, you have done what is best for your life in the long term. Stand your ground and do not allow others to manipulate you.
Put out the Fire!
Once you realize that you have been setting yourself on fire to keep others warm, stop! Put forth an action plan that will include valuing yourself more and the wishes of others less. Taking care of your emotional well being is more important than making other people happy!
So, put down the matches and stop setting yourself on fire to keep others warm!
Other Mental Health Articles:
- The Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Others
- Finding the Other Side of Depression
- Stop Setting Yourself on Fire!
- Mental Health and Chronic Illness
- Easing Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms