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Why is it considered selfish to put yourself first?

I have always been a people-pleaser, but now I'm ready to put myself first. I've heard that some religions, if not most, consider it to be selfish to put oneself first, but how is that right? If you are constantly putting others before yourself and you eventually burn out, then how is that helping yourself or anyone else? I believe that it is good to help others in need, especially if you can afford to, but there are a lot of people who are co-dependent and they never take care of their needs.


Asked by cocobrown28 at 1:07 PM on Feb. 19, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 13 (1,128 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (11)
  • Not all religions teach this, and I don't understand why the ones that do teach people to be this way. I once read that Buddhist teachings on this matter are much like the idea of putting your own oxygen mask on BEFORE you help the person next to you or your child on a plane. This is more of a SELFLESS act than putting it on them first, because what good are you to them if you are unconscious? You CAN'T help someone next to you if you did not get enough oxygen first. We have to take care of ourselves so we can help others and have more to give. Finding balance or The Middle Way is always best IMO. If I don't take care of myself and I get sick or dehydrated, what good am I to my child? I always put my child first and take care of his needs before my own, but I need to make sure I don't neglect myself. This was more of an issue when he was newborn, but still something I keep in mind when trying to find balance each day.

    Answer by pam19 at 2:10 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • It's all about balance. You can do both, just don't try for one exclusively. It is hard when people expect things from you but do not reciprocate. That would be my mom. She expects us to do things for her but cannot give anything back. It gets old and exhausting. MIL on the other hand, at least offers to help us (but really we cannot accept as she is 80 and in poor health, but at least she offers.)

    One of our great Rabbis taught "If I am not for myself, who am I? But if I am only for myself what am I?"

    Answer by balagan_imma at 1:17 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • Its about balance....we need to take care of ourselves so that we can pour out to others. If we do not then yes we burn out. That is what happens with a lot of pastors in churches... they are constantly giving out but not replenishing themselves and eventually burn out.

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 2:17 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • I don't think it is. I think it's realistic. It's only selfish if you put others in peril simply to put yourself first. Personally I think we should all put ourselves first. If YOU aren't happy & fulfilled in your life you can't possibly help others...

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 3:36 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • I believe its good to help others, but not good to continuously EXPECT others to take care of us.

    If you are generous with helping others and you see they are benefitting from what you do, and than see some who are taking all the time but show no appreciation for what you have done cause they are expecting you should be the one taking care of them, than you are not selfish for not wanting to help them anymore.

    We just have to always be aware of who benefits from what we offer and who is not.


    Answer by virginiamama71 at 1:11 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • Putting yourself first to an extent is not selfish. You have to take care of YOU to take care of anyone else and anyone can easily get burned out. As a christian, God comes first to me but doesn't mean I go and put everyone else on Earth first. I still have to take care of me and my family, do what I can to help anyone who needs, and balance life. Helping is great but without taking care of yourself, you can easily get sick and tired, and then your not much help. I don't think it is selfish to take care of your needs unless you just refuse to offer any help to anyone but as a mom I am sure you help your kids. God puts us on Earth to be His servant and our paths on Earth can be big or small or both. Being a mom, spouse, loved one, friend, family member is helping too many. I have had my spirits lifted by people so much as giving a smile and hug at times when I was in great need financially but that smile and hug helped me more.

    Answer by ConnectHearts at 1:19 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • I too have been in a "selfish" stage trying to take better care of myself and learning how to eat better and work out etc since my lapband surgery in June. I have to be healthier to live longer and have more energy to take better care of my kids. Remember the old saying "if the mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" you can insert healthy for happy right there.

    Taking care of yourself is the best role model and gift you can give your daughter to show her how to take care of herself! Don't let other people let you think its wrong or selfish to make your life right, its the only one you have and you can't help others til you help your self.

    Answer by jamesonjustines at 3:07 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • typo helping many too. sorry

    Answer by ConnectHearts at 1:20 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • I've been helping others most of my life, but I do need to start taking better care of myself because my health could be a lot better. I want to have a career helping others to eat real foods that are natural and organic foods. I love to cook for people and I want to show others how to get in better shape, but first I have to get healthy. I don't want to stop helping others, but sometimes things are expected of you.

    Comment by cocobrown28 (original poster) at 1:25 PM on Feb. 19, 2011

  • Jamesonjustines, you're right. I will be of no service if I don't start taking better care of my needs. I want to have the time and energy to take care of my daughter without being tired and sluggish.

    Comment by cocobrown28 (original poster) at 3:10 PM on Feb. 19, 2011