Helping Others Instead of Helping Myself

Published in Mental Health - 2 mins to read

I’ve been thinking recently about my tendency to try to find value in myself by helping other people. I do it an alarming amount - if ever one of my friends has some kind of problem, I want to help them “fix” it. On some level I feel like if I can fix other people’s problems, I’ll have worth as a person myself. I end up putting my energy into other people’s issues instead of my own, even if the two are very similar. If a friend is having trouble with one of their relationships, romantic or otherwise, I’ll counsel them on it while not addressing the fact that my needs might not be being met in my own relationships. If someone isn’t happy with their career, I’ll brainstorm with them all the things that could try to do to get to the place where they want to be, rather than putting in the work so that I’m where I want to be in my own career. Most alarmingly, if somebody I know has any kind of mental health issues then you guessed it - my effort is fully on them getting better, rather than my own struggles.

Not only is this obviously a bad thing in terms of me not looking after myself, it’s also definitely a little arrogant to assume that I can help these people, infinitely more so if they haven’t actually asked for my assistance. In a way, I need to be a lot more selfish, and make sure my own needs are met before helping others meet theirs - as a friend said to me recently, when the plane cabin depressurizes, ensure your own oxygen mask is fitted correctly before helping others. You’ll be a lot more help to them if you can actually breathe yourself.