We all know that person who has struggled, lost their job, lost their home, or has issues at home and then offers to help out the next person they come across who is in need, often at the expense of their own needs and wellbeing.
Those who are natural carers, nurturers, rescuers or those in the service industries are often the first to help others in need.
But how can self-sacrificing benefit others when your needs are not met?
Now I’m not saying this to be judgemental or critical of those of service to others. I am speaking from the point of health and well-being. Filling your cup before others is paramount to your resilience, stamina, and mental and emotional well-being.
You might think that this is something we all know about – looking after ourselves before others. However, I have personally experienced people wanting to help others without the fortitude to help themselves in recent months.
It is not all black and white; people do things for unique reasons. But more commonly than not, I see people potentially ignoring their own basic needs to satisfy their desire to help others.
Of course, I’m not saying that if you see someone whose life is in danger, you shouldn’t help them unless you have eaten a proper meal or had a nap. That’s a different situation entirely. I’m talking about those instances where people are helping in non-life-threatening situations and must prioritise their health before others.
I hope we’re on the same page here.
So, what would happen if everyone looked after their own needs first? Do you think we would become a society of selfish and insensitive individuals?
I don’t think so.
Our society sways us to believe self-sacrifice is beneficial and that working harder to help others is a desirable and noble trait.
But should it be at the expense of your well-being?
As someone who serves others. Who guides people through their life journey. Who helps people to reach their personal and health goals. I need to take time to care for myself before I can care for others.
I have in the past felt guilty for not offering my help to others in need. I have felt bad about looking after my own needs before others. And I have worried about what others might think of me for not being a vocal activist for human needs.
What I have learned from my own experiences and my work with my clients is that prioritising your physical, mental and emotional needs is the most critical step to being capable of helping others.
It is not selfish. It’s not self-centred, and it’s not a waste of time. Looking after yourself is your priority. Without that, your ability to serve; completely, honestly and ongoingly is compromised.