Existential Psychology

Self-Care Is Essential If You Want To Be A Helper

By  | 

Those of us who choose to be helpers in any capacity know how meaningful the experience can be to positively influence the lives of others, to be there for those who depend on us. If we’re being totally honest with ourselves it makes us feel important, powerful, almost godlike to be the ones who dole out help rather than the ones who require it.

But the fact is that we all require help sometimes. A danger of becoming helpers is fooling ourselves into believing we’re not fragile, not dependent, not in need of care. It’s easy, when taking on the burden of caring for others, to neglect our own self-care. We might start equating taking care of ourselves, or expecting others to take care of us sometimes, as equivalent to selfishness or as a sign of weakness.

But the above attitude is a huge mistake, one that can only end in unhappiness and burnout. Self-care is essential because it’s only when our own psychic cups are overflowing that we can afford to take on the psychic burden of someone else’s problems. Staying strong in mind and body by consciously and unapologetically making sure that all of our psychological, emotional, and physical needs are met is not selfish it’s necessary.

If you’re a helper, anyone who tries to convince you it’s selfish to get your own needs and wants met is a parasite. The dominant image of a good helper might be a self-sacrificer who puts everyone else’s needs before their own but that type of world orientation is more often than not indicative of masochism, a dysfunctional, compulsive world orientation that be classified as mental illness. If you really want to be in a position to help others help yourself first and keep on helping yourself. If you don’t feel like you’re at a ten out of ten or close to it then helping others is just going to keep on depleting you until you’re all withered up with nothing left to give.