Why it's okay to help yourself first

I’ve always felt an inherent desire to help others. I want to lighten one’s load, lift her up, bring her joy, peace, and comfort. But then why have I often times felt so bitter after offering to help?

After a recent and insightful conversation with my wonderful friend, Mallory, I learned that it’s because I hadn’t been offering myself enough self-love and self-care. I was depleted. When we are depleted, we feel uncomfortable and possibly even resentment when giving to others. Why? Because the love that we’re trying to share is not there to give when we have left ourselves empty and abandoned.

I learned long ago that those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others.

- Booker T. Washington

I would have to agree. But when we are depleted and bitter, resentment overshadows the glow from within that naturally wants to fill our bodies after we do for others.

The remarkable thing is that we really do love our neighbor as ourselves. We do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant towards others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves.

- Eric Hoffer

Now that I am actively working to change the way that I care for and love myself, I feel true happiness when I am able to offer help to others. How I treat myself is how I want to treat others. I no longer feel abandoned and don’t want others to feel that way either.

My very wise, soon-to-be brother-in-law just shared something pretty cool with me. He said that in his family it was common to always be looking for ways to help others. When we help our sister, our dad, our grandmother, our friend, we never have to worry about ourselves because someone will be looking out for us in return.

This brings us full circle because when others are looking out for us, we are able to find time for our own self-care and love.