Society teaches us to value the welfare of others over our own. And this is often the reason why we feel conflicted when faced with a choice between helping others and helping ourselves. In the e…
Society teaches us to value the welfare of others over our own. And this is often the reason why we feel conflicted when faced with a choice between helping others and helping ourselves. In the end, we usually choose other people. We enjoy the feeling of being magnanimous and charitable when we help others. It provides us with a sense of fulfillment. Giving to others makes us feel that life is meaningful.
But sometimes we go too far. Even when we have nothing left to give, we still do. We forget ourselves. We exchange our priorities, our plans and our ambitions for those of others. We fail to set limits and sacrifice too much for other people. As a result, whatever time, money or energy that is meant for ourselves we give to those around us.
Do we really become fulfilled when we do this? Or are we just avoiding the feeling of guilt that arises when we don’t give? Is this so-called meaningfulness that we experience merely an excuse, a rationalization? When we give beyond what we should, is this really helping? Or are we in fact encouraging dependence on us?
When faced with a choice between ourselves and others, sometimes we should choose ourselves also. It’s not selfishness to do this. Because when we sacrifice too much, we are prioritizing others at our own expense.
We should find time do what we enjoy. We ought to develop our potentials and be all that we can be. And we need to stay healthy in every aspect of life. The only real way we can be of any good to the people around us is by taking care of ourselves first. Only when we are complete, whole and happy can we be of greater help to those who truly need us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frederick Fabella, PhD is a graduate and undergraduate professor in the Philippines. He is an editorial board member of the IRP international research journal and a Fellow of the Royal Institution Singapore. He is the author of Transcendence: Essays For Personal Reflection. His blog can be found at Meanings and Perceptions.