The More You Do for Other People, the Less They Do for Themselves

The More You Do for Other People, the Less They Do for Themselves

Last update: 15 December, 2022

The more you do for other people, the happier you feel (or so you think). You offer them your help, and if it’s in your hands to relieve some of their suffering, then all the better. However, sometimes your willingness to make things easier for other people doesn’t really end up fulfilling you. Contrary to what you expected, t he more you do, the more disappointed you feel.

You can’t save anyone. Only they can save themselves.

Life isn’t easy, and there are many difficult moments that we have to deal with. But these moments make us stronger and wiser. They allow us to mature and get to know ourselves better. If we didn’t have the opportunity to go through them, we wouldn’t grow anymore. But with respect to the people you love the most, you want to suffer for them, to always lend them a hand. You would even take their place if you could. But you can’t.

Don’t run away from yourself

The more you do for other people, the more you stray from yourself, probably for multiple reasons. You don’t want to face your problems, so you focus on other people. All the help that you need, you give to other people. All the affection and support that you ask for but don’t receive, you offer selflessly.

You may have noticed by now that you’re projecting your needs onto others. Instead of taking care of your own needs, you run away from them. But how can you offer help to other people if you don’t know how to give it to yourself? How can you give love if you can’t love yourself? In order to be generous with others, you have to be generous with yourself first. You can’t offer anything that you haven’t nurtured within yourself, even if you think you can.

woman's back

You might not be aware that you’re making a few mistakes that have repercussions on both you and others. For example, you won’t be able to establish healthy relationships if you give everything and forget about yourself.

In order to take care of others, first you have to take care of yourself. You aim to support the people you love, to lift them up when they’ve fallen hard, to be a source of motivation for them when they’ve exhausted all other possibilities. But how can you do that if you can’t do it for yourself? Doing that will destroy you.

Don’t develop dependent relationships. You want other people to depend on you to be okay, but maybe it’s you who depends on them. This will never result in a healthy relationship. Dependence causes much more harm than you think.

Make yourself your first priority. You can’t help anyone if you also have problems to solve. Put yourself before others. It’s important to recognize this because you tend to give and give without having enough strength for it.

Other people have the power to choose

Sometimes, the more you do for others, the more you limit their power to choose for themselves. In a way, they’ve abandoned themselves in your favor. They’ve stopped fighting for their dreams because they want to be okay, and now, all of this responsibility falls on you. But isn’t it already enough to fight for yourself? You’re living for two, three, or more people.

Even if your friend is suffering, it’s up to them to choose whether to remain in that stormy situation or not. All you can do is listen to them, offer your perspective if they ask for it, and be there when they need you. But you can never make decisions for them, tell them what they have to do, or suffer for them.


Our decisions set the course for the rest of our lives. There’s no predetermined destiny; rather, we shape it based on our decisions. If somebody else makes your decisions for you, it isn’t your path anymore, and like the human you are, you’ll end up abandoning it.

That’s why you haven’t received anything in return from the people you’ve given yourself to, why they didn’t act the way you expected. You wanted some type of gratitude, but you didn’t realize that you’ve gotten involved in a life that isn’t yours. Nobody is going to give you a medal for fighting someone else’s battles.

Even though it hurts to watch somebody suffer, sometimes it’s necessary for them to go through it.

Sure, it’s easier for someone else to mark the path so that you can follow their footsteps. However, this attitude doesn’t help you in any way. We learn from our mistakes, from the people who have hurt us, from every experience that has defined us. If we didn’t have to go through all of that, how could we value the trust of a friend? How would we appreciate that the path to success is full of curves and potholes?

two women

Every time you feel tempted to take the reins of someone else’s life, remember that if you do, the other person will stop fighting for themselves. They won’t have to deal with difficult situations anymore or learn from what happens to them. You’ll want to make everything easier, but that’s not the way it really is. Instead of doing them a favor, you’re just pushing them into a fictional world.

Images courtesy of Diaria Petrilli


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.