Often when people’s best qualities are discussed it often seems to involve “Always putting others ahead of one’s self” or “Would drop everything for a friend”. In reality, sometimes what this can really mean is “Always did everything everyone wanted – What’s not to like?” These sentiments are particularly true when describing women, although females certainly haven’t cornered the market on martyrdom.

Our need to support others at the expense of ourselves is easy trap to fall into.  We tell ourselves that we do it because we like to feel helpful, we like to take care of those we love, and maybe not so consciously – we know people like people who do what they want.  We sometimes forget that always saying yes to others can sometimes mean we are actually saying no to ourselves.  Supporting others because we truly want to helps us build connection and community, but continually sacrificing our own needs for those around us may mean we have fallen into the virtue trap. Take a few minutes to complete the below quiz to see if I could be talking about you.

The Virtue-Trap Quiz

1. The biggest lack in my life is:

2. The greatest joy in my life is:

3. My largest time commitment is:

4. As I play more, I work:

5. I feel guilty that I am:

6. I worry that:

7. If my dreams come true, my family/friends will:

8. I sabotage myself so people will:

9. If I let myself feel it, I’m angry that I:

10. One reason I get sad sometimes is:

Now take a look at your answers.

  • Is there anything there that surprises you?
  • Is there a balance or are you living your life only for others?
  • Are you only doing things you feel like you have to do, or are you doing things that you want to do for yourself and your loved ones?

Have you fallen into the virtue trap?  If so and you would like some support climbing out, give me a call.  I look forward to helping you create balance and allowing you the space learn how to say yes to yourself again.


Virtue Trap Quiz taken from “The Artist’s Way” – Julia Cameron