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Is Helping Others Helping Ourselves?

“People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves”~ Oscar Wilde

Some people seem “called” to help others, often from very early on in their childhoods; responding to the needs of family members, strangers, or animals with a selflessness that is impressive. Often, these people appear to have very few needs of their own, and the focus of their lives is on rescuing, helping, and healing others.

Although there are a few people who are truly able to sustain this completely giving lifestyle, many of them have needs that lie beneath the surface, unmet and often unseen. In these cases, their motivation to help others may be an extension of a deep desire to heal a wounded part of themselves that is starving for the kind of love and attention they dole out to those around them on a daily basis. For any number of reasons, they are unable to give themselves the love they need, and so they give it to others. This does not mean that they are not meant to be helping others, but it does mean that they would do well to turn some of that helping energy within. 

The Serenity Prayer can be a very helpful reminder to us of some basic core truths: that we cannot control others and can only control how we respond to them. In other words, we have to come to realise that we cannot affect the behaviour of other people, no matter how hard we try; we can only learn to modify our own reactions to them.

By learning to value ourselves and paying attention to our own feelings and needs, we can then begin to prioritise us. When we start to be assertive about our needs and not neglect them; we can begin to set boundaries and, in so doing, gain more control of our lives.


  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  ~ The Serenity Prayer




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