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Always Thinking About How I Can Help Others Has Weighed me Down all my Life

Putting others first is not always good

Parag Shah
3 min readDec 3, 2020


How often have you heard statements like:

“Forget your small self, you are only a speck in this vast universe.”

“The best way to be happy is to forget your problems and help others.”

“Stop thinking about yourself and think about others.”

This kind of advice is often doled out as some sort of universal truth. But is it really a universal truth? Not always and certainly not in my case.

I always used to love helping others. I still do but I have become very selective now because constantly helping others and thinking about helping others has been the biggest factor that weighed me down and limited my imagination.

In my case, I wasn’t just helping others, I was also constantly thinking of helping others also. Over time, I got into the habit of always putting myself last. I had no priorities of my own. My only priority was to help others. I even helped people who disparaged me. Seriously, when I think about it now all I can say is WTF!!! Why did I even do that?

Energy flows where attention goes.

Someone once said, perhaps satirically, “No good act ever goes unpunished.” It was certainly true for me because as a result of constantly thinking about the good of others, my energy was flowing out from myself to them. This outflow of energy harmed me both physically and mentally. I was chronically fatigued even though all my medical reports were perfect, my self-worth took a huge hit because over time my sense of self became tied to how useful I was to others, and my self-respect was destroyed because many people treated me like a doormat who would always help them no matter what they did and I felt completely confused and helpless about how what to do.

However, the worst part of this misplaced altruism was that I lost the most vital connection that any person can have — the connection with my own true self; the connection with my own North Star. I was so busy loving and caring for others that I had no time to love and care for myself. It wouldn’t be far from the truth if I said that I completely lost all direction in life, became badly depressed, felt completely helpless to deal with the world, and felt so worthless that if someone treated me well, I wanted to tell them that they were making a mistake by being so nice to me. And I’m not exaggerating even one bit.

I realized the mess I had gotten myself into, through a grueling and long-winded process, several years back when my entire life fell apart. But the momentum of these habits was massive. The expectation that I had created in others was huge. Overturning both of these from the pit that I had dug myself into was nothing short of a herculean task that took its toll in many ways.

But today, as I step into the last month of 2020, the one biggest lesson I have learned is to fiercely prioritize myself for the sake of my own health and well-being and to not let anyone take my good nature for granted. I have learned that it is not selfish to love yourself. In fact, self-love is the best medicine for the mind, body, and soul.

This may go against the grain of most spiritual and many self-help books but I’m saying something that needs to be said.

I did not take this birth to be useful to others. I took this birth to sing my own song. It will absolutely delight me if hearing my song gives hope and joy to others and it still delights me to lend a helping hand to someone who has tripped and is having a difficult time getting up. I do it neither as altruism not to be good. I simply do it because that’s who I am. But it is not the purpose of my life to go around doing good. My only purpose is to be me and sing my song. Period.

Thanks to Rob Brezsny for asking this question and yes I do hope that this post helps others who find themselves overburdened by helping others!!!