In the Western world, sacrifices are made every day. For example, people sacrifice to attain a specific job, others to live in specific areas, and parents sacrifice for their children. The Bible is riddled with examples of the importance of sacrifice, and there is one example that is significant to all Christians.
In the modern world, we strive to follow the examples of our Savior and nobly give up our comforts in hopes of receiving an even bigger reward in the future. But, unfortunately, we tend to ignore that in our reality, the pursuit of security and the relentless aspiration to exist profoundly has a price tag. Those who choose to pay the price use their time, physical and social existence, and mental health to resolve the debt accompanying sacrifice.
The choice to dedicate one’s existence can tremendously affect mental health. Through research, The U.S. Surgeon General has helped individuals recognize that an ever-striving mindset comes at the highest cost to mental health. Because so many individuals have chosen to subscribe to sacrifice for the greater good, mental health has become a public health priority. Research has linked pursuing external goals to anxiety and depression. Clinical psychologist, Richard Ryan, believes that “striving is only healthy when it does not affect the rest of our lives .”The choice to pursue extrinsic markers of success has proven to leave individuals less psychologically fulfilled, lacking personal growth, and struggling to form deep relationships.
Is it safe to say that unhealthy sacrifice can cause imbalances that trigger symptoms of stress? Many individuals fail to acknowledge their limits and forget to set boundaries for themselves when they choose to make sacrifices. Without recognizing limitations, individuals experience multiple symptoms that could lessen their quality of life. Every person will experience different symptoms. Understanding the symptoms of imbalance is essential in properly coping. People experiencing stress may have difficulty controlling their emotions, while others may have trouble focusing on tasks. Unhealthy sacrifice causes individuals to isolate themselves, which can trigger a host of long-lasting mental issues, including depression. Some reports suggest the depletion of self-confidence and physical symptoms. Understanding how unhealthy sacrifice affects an individual can be vital if we consider it in our life’s planning.
Practicing balance can help individuals cope with the stress that accompanies sacrifice. Understanding the importance of having balance in life can also be beneficial. There are several steps that individuals can take to practice balance. Focusing on the task, not the reward, is an effective way to practice balance during a significant sacrifice. Research shows that individuals have a healthy response when they focus on mastering tasks, learning functions of, or creating positive change rather than focusing on the promotion or pay that the sacrifice will bring. Adopting a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset is a positive way to practice balance. The growth mindset promotes learning and can help individuals grow into the most effective version of themselves.
In mental health, practicing balance helps individuals comfortably manage stress in their social, physical, spiritual, and economic life. Because multiple areas are necessary for our happiness, practicing balance can teach us to manage stress where we find it and not allow it to spill over into other areas of our life. Recognizing limitations and setting boundaries is the most important element that can help individuals comfortably manage stress and achieve balance. Practicing balance is a mental process and will look different based on the specific needs of the individual.
What we strive for can ultimately bring us discomfort without proper balance and a little discipline. In our culture, the effects of sacrifice are publicly worn like badges of honor, while individuals suffer privately. Therefore, it is essential to make a realistic effort not to lose ourselves when we make sacrifices so that others may gain.