A friend asked me this question today. If someone helps another person only to get the good feeling from helping others, is that selfish? Although I didn’t ponder it too long before answering him, I thought about it a lot afterward.
Be Full of Yourself so that You Can Give to Others
Oprah was quoted as saying: “I consider it a compliment that I am full of myself.” She goes onto to explain: “When you’re full… I’m full, I’m overflowing. I have so much to offer, and so much to give.”
In most of the spiritual books I read about the path to enlightenment, they all say the same thing; make it all about you. You did not come here to help anyone else but to experience life, your way. That does not mean that helping others is bad or wrong or not the right thing to do. It’s just that it is up to you if you want to do it or not. Law of Attraction gurus say to help others achieve what you want, and it will come to you also.
Maybe Selfishness is What is Needed to Motivate
Many of us feel compelled to help others; it’s what we are good at. I have always felt a pull towards helping people and sometimes I do so to the determinant of myself. I am much better at helping others than I am at helping myself. But not everyone feels that way. For some people assisting another person is a real struggle.
My friend believes that he is selfish by nature and the feeling he gets when he helps others can be motivating. He doesn’t always want to help someone else, but he always feels good that he did. My thought is, if that good feeling helps him to help another person, then it can’t be wrong. Even if that was the only reason he did it; the person still got the help they needed, and he got self-satisfaction. It’s a win-win in my book.
I don’t see it as selfish, but a choice and even more admirable because helping is harder for him than it would be for someone else. How impressive that he helps even when it goes against his very nature. That good feeling that he gets may have been put there as a motivator so people who are not naturally inclined to be selfless, can be more easily.
There is also the question of boundaries, and it’s not always prudent to help someone else when you need to stop and say no.
Don’t Think, Act!
Sometimes I think we spend too much time weighing what others will think or how our actions will be perceived when taking action might be a better course. Considering your motivations is not a bad thing but getting bogged down by that to the point of not doing anything may not be healthy either. Both my friend and I are over-thinkers.
Selfish or not, anything that drives you to help someone else can’t be wrong. In the end, I guess you have to decide for yourself; do you want to keep helping if it feels selfish or not?
Can you imagine a situation where helping others is ever selfish? Please comment.