How to find the balance between living for yourself and helping others?

How to find the balance between living for yourself and helping others?

I think most people know and remember one of the basic rules of passenger behavior on board: in case of cabin depressurization you must first put a mask on yourself, then the child. Look at the subject more broadly – here we are not talking about relations with children, but in principle about helping your surroundings. This approach goes well with the legendary “Pay yourself first” and reflects an adequate, balanced position toward yourself.

Hence the “airplane rule” emerges: take care of yourself, invest in yourself. Help others without taking the last of it away from yourself.

However, this approach does not mean that you have to go to extremes and generally close yourself off from everyone. On the contrary: you need to find a balance, a point of balance between “living for yourself” and “living for others”. Here are a few simple rules:

Don’t exhaust yourself with your Ego

Humans are social creatures. And it is society that has made us what we are today.

Don’t forget that. Yes, having a well “pumped up” Ego and high intelligence is good, but… Without the ability to share your talents with others, these skills are useless.

Earlier on our blog Optimist.pw we already wrote about the smartest man on Earth with an IQ almost twice as high as Einstein’s. He ended his life young and alone, having done nothing meaningful or memorable. Why? He was selfish and a sociopath.

Don’t go to extremes. Both the “I am the center of the Earth” and “I am everything to you and nothing to myself” positions are losing, unresourceful, and stressful for both you and your surroundings.

You don’t have to be a hero all the time

Oh, that Hollywood. Every time you look at this movies, it’s all heroes, that saving everybody and helping everybody…

Many movies are good. They made to cheer us up, to give us confidence, to set us on the right path. But in real life, somehow there are few heroes. What is the reason?

The reason is that one person can not decide for all. Moreover, in real life, such tactics do more harm than good. Here’s an example:

Once upon a time there was a boy. He really wanted to be a hero and do good things. While walking in the park, he saw a butterfly cocoon. The butterfly tried to get out of it, but it did not succeed.

The boy wanted to help the butterfly and carefully cut the cocoon with a knife. Eventually the butterfly got out, but it did it too early. It didn’t get enough nutrients and its bones and wings were not yet strong enough. This butterfly was completely unprepared for life. She could not fly properly, nor could she get her own food. Therefore, the butterfly soon died.

There are many such examples in life. That’s why all smart rich parents first teach their children the business before they give them money. That’s why to feed a hungry man on the shore, it’s better to teach him to fish than to give him money.

It’s the same in relationships with loved ones (and just with those who have difficulty): give them “a fishing rod” and show them how to handle it, but don’t feed them “ready-made fish” all the time.

No one will appreciate your sacrificial efforts

Or they will, but not to the extent you expect.

In an effort to help others, you can give up your career, your professional growth, your personal happiness, but sooner or later you will be left with nothing and will be forced to ask for help yourself.

That’s why you should not sacrifice yourself. If you feel that you are becoming a hostage to other people’s circumstances, then step back. There are many ways to show your complicity: to help advice, support the initiative of the person you are interested in, etc. But do not go overboard.

Your involvement in other people’s problems should be moderate, not creating discomfort for you. Remember that relationships with people should bring happiness, not feelings of hopelessness and loss.

In any relationship is almost always a compromise, there is a more forgiving for you the alternative. Always choose it, do not sacrifice yourself. Do not put yourself in a difficult condition “I am owed”, in which you’ll be expecting some special treatment, special gratitude for your contribution, and it will not follow. In the end, you will receive neither gratitude nor resources for yourself.

Never lose sight of your priorities

Let me remind you of the first rule of this topic: “Pay yourself first”.

In life, it is important to be clear about your priorities and stick to them. As a rule, a person who is satisfied with his life, who respects himself and many of the people around him are like that, develops a healthier, more balanced relationship. Not a relationship where that person is used as a “donor”.

First analyze, then do

If you are inclined to “rescuing,” evaluate what results it has led to in your life.

When life’s difficult moments come (when you want to give your oxygen mask to someone else without hesitation), you have to learn to think and analyze:

  1. How critical is this to you?
  2. How critical is it to the person asking for help?
  3. Are there other options for solving the problem? (Сan the person in need at least partially solve their problem on their own?).

Answering these questions will be your balance between living for yourself and helping others.


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