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JeffVader's avatar

Has anyone ever been happy by always putting others ahead of themselves?

Asked by JeffVader (5416points) April 14th, 2010

There’s someone I know who never puts themselves first. Whether it be in their dealings with friends, relationships, or family. My concern is that if they never do anything for themselves, that they will never be happy. What are your views?

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61 Answers

Vunessuh's avatar

I think you can be happy, but I think you can be happier by taking time out for yourself every once in a while. Some of these people are also considered doormats or “people-pleasers” and I think it gets exhausting for them after a while. I also think some people with low self-esteem and low confidence are this way as well.
While I admire people who always put others before them and while I consider it to be very selfless, I also know it can be unhealthy if this person never takes care of their own needs.
It’s okay to stand up for yourself and take the time that you need to cater to your needs. In fact, I think it’s a must and considered a component in contributing to good health and sanity.

Sophief's avatar

Since I split with my first serious boyfriend when I was 21, I decided I never wanted to love again. So I slept with men I weren’t attracted to. Everything was about me. I was very selfish, and I really wasn’t happy.

I now have someone I love so much, and now I am the least selfish person ever. Everything is about him, even the little things. But I am happy. I enjoy living for him. I do things for myself but it is all related to making him happy.

I can’t stand having time to myself, I hate being alone. I hate my own company.

Rangie's avatar

Over the years I have found that doing for others is a selfish thing in a way. Putting others first has given me pleasure. I think it is a mother/wife thing. However, I have found that not everybody needs or wants you to put them first. So I have learned to back off on a lot of that, and concentrate on me now and then. It has become a good balance for all of us.

JeffVader's avatar

@Vunessuh Thank you, I’m pretty convinced that this persons selflessness comes from their low self-esteem….

JeffVader's avatar

@Dibley Which is a real shame as Ive found you to be a wholely lovely person.

JeffVader's avatar

@Rangie Thank you, I hadn’t considered that aspect….

Rangie's avatar

@JeffVader You are welcome, that is just me. I guess we each have crazy reasons for everything we do.

Sophief's avatar

@JeffVader I can still be a nice person and not be selfish.

JeffVader's avatar

@Dibley I think you pull it off very well :)

lala1234's avatar

I think when person gives too much to others, he will always (even not intentionally) expect something in return – and if this something is not be returned – it will necessary heart their feelings.

Rangie's avatar

@lala1234 at my age as happiness in that other person is all I am looking for. I can’t think of anything I would rather have. I can’t go to the store and buy that. So I savor it whenever I can. Today I took my little 3 yr. old grandson a child’s computer. He couldn’t quit smiling. His little shoulder came up and his hands went to his big smiling face. It just tickled my heart.

partyparty's avatar

I think it can be good to put others first, but only sometimes. If a person is putting others first all of the time, then they are neglecting themselves.
A person should care for their own needs first and foremost, then help others as and when needed.

JeffVader's avatar

@partyparty @Rangie The reason this sprang to mind is that I was watching a show on TV a couple of night ago in which a woman was about to marry a man she wasn’t in love with, basically because she knew he loved her & she couldn’t bring herself to hurt him. & it reminded me of my friend….. the advice given on the TV show was something like…. ‘when making a decision like this, it’s ok to be selfish’

Rangie's avatar

@JeffVader you had better believe that. I do have a selfish streak. I learned to say no. I learned to take time for just me, walking around window shopping, getting my hair cut, purchasing a new outfit, and finishing the day with a pedicure. But, I was also trying to convey that the selfish thing I have is getting satisfaction from helping to make someone happy. Believe me, it is not an unselfish thing. We all have a motive for everything we do. Even if we donate to a charity, it makes us feel good. okay, okay, so I’m a selfish person. lol

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Mother Teresa seemed liked a bubbly,happpy woman ;) lol

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I mostly do for others, and I enjoy doing it. I do set boundaries so I don’t become a doormat. When someone feels they can go off and do fun things, and I will stay home and do all the drudge things, that’s the point when putting them first stops.

There’s a whole list of things that I would like to do for myself. Sometimes, just having that list out there, and being able to think about it, is satisfying when I’m mired in responsibilities. What really makes me happy is having my children and their friends in the house, and hearing voices from the next room, talking and laughing, and cooking for others.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Perhaps they are happy? Always putting others ahead of yourself can be quite fulfilling provided you consistently derive happiness from doing so. Often it’s the happiness of others and the feeling you’ve made a difference, even a small one, that makes someone like that happy. In fact, one could argue that, if everyone were to do that the world would be a much better place. If it’s being driven by low self-esteem the question becomes: is it to enhance their self-worth and remind themselves of their inherent value? or is it a way to punish themselves? If the latter is the case, it’s time to give the helper a hand.

slick44's avatar

I have 3 children, and i always put them ahead of myself. Seems i do that with everyone i care about. I am happy. Thats what makes me happy, is doing things for those i care about, even if it means i do without.I acually feel quilty if i spend money on myself. Or go somewhere without my kids.

DarkScribe's avatar

You mean like guys allowing the girls in short skirts to go up the escalator or stairs ahead of them? They are often very happy.

JeffVader's avatar

Hehe, you’ve got a wicked imagination :)

CMaz's avatar

“There‚Äôs someone I know who never puts themselves first.”
I am so tired of hearing that. That behavior is what they “like to do”.

So actually they are putting themselves first.

And individuals that “put themselves first”, will eventually use it as a war cry for what they did not do or get in life. Because they spent their time “helping” others.

It is a lazy and confused individuals cop out.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

I think I know those people too @ChazMaz GA
One person uses the old, “I have done SOOO much for them.” and “They OWE me”
so I know that the person did all those things for selfish reasons to manipulate the other person later on.
I have an inlaw who does too much for their children, thus they never learn these important living skills. I see how they are somewhat crippled by this. It makes them dependent on Mom.
I don’t trust people who give TOO MUCH to me. I have been burned by that in the past. They use it to use me later on.
GQ

OneMoreMinute's avatar

There’s people who feel good when they help others out.
And then there’s people who keep score every time they help people out.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell the difference until it’s too late for the later.

Coloma's avatar

I agree, most people that like to view themselves as selfless are, in actuality very selfish!

I have a friend like this, gives and gives, even when others do not want to be given to.

Always in the middle of others business with unsolicited advice, help, and claims that they are ‘just that way’, yet…often complains about how much they have done for others and feels resentful.

Over giving is more often than not about the givers own needs to be seen as some sort of wonderful person, and thus gain self esteem from being ‘needed.’

It is co-dependence at it’s finest.

If, when one ‘gives,’ which by the very nature of the word implies an act of generiosty, yet complains that no one ever gives back in a way that they feel is proper restitution for their selfless act, well…....manipulation at it’s finest.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I gladly put my ladys intrerests and well-being ahead of my own. She had a very tough life before we met. Je ne regrets rien.

CMaz's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land – With all due respect to you. :-)

“I gladly put my lady’s interests and well-being ahead of my own.”

No one does. First, YOU makes sure YOU have money. YOU make sure YOU are healthy.
And YOU make sure YOU are safe.

So then YOU can provide what is best for your lady’s interests and well-being. :-)

slick44's avatar

@ChazMaz… well put :)

Rangie's avatar

@ChazMaz I agree with most of what you said. However, I think we are talking about 2 different things. Both are selfish, but in different ways.
1. helping someone 2. putting yourself first.
Some people help others out of the goodness of their heart. And their selfishness is the feelings they get from doing what they did. But, the other people that help someone, with paybacks in mind are not only selfish of the worst kind, but not a friend to anyone, but themselves.
Always putting yourself first, is not only selfish, and self centered, but it’s lacking in the behavior of social skills.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@ChazMaz I was handed life on a silver platter. Until I met that wonderful lady, I was a self-centered, obnoxious loner. She completely changed my life around; for that I owe her everything. I am nothing, she was a goddess.

CMaz's avatar

@Rangie – In order to help someone you have to put yourself first.

People just feel guilty thinking of it that way.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, there is no heroism in martyrdom, martyrs always get burned at the stake.

How can I give you the breath of life if I don’t take a breath myself?

Rangie's avatar

@ChazMaz That is unfortunate. Guilty is one of those words like jealous. Wasted emotions. I try to have a reason for what I do, and guilt is not one of them. You are right, we must take care of ourselves before we can do anything for anyone else.

Ltryptophan's avatar

First, get yourself together. Then once you have a decent handle on you, then start working to help everyone else. Airplane gas mask…

Rangie's avatar

@Coloma great answer. I love the “How can I give you the breath of life, if I don’t take a breath myself?”

Coloma's avatar

@Rangie

Yes, seems like this is more of a womans issue most of the time. Conditioning, programming, all the BS we are fed about what constitutes a ‘good’ vs. a ‘bad’ ( selfish ) person.

Of course caring for small children is an exception at times, other than this, ‘giving’ for any reason other than from ones own abundance is manipulative and unhealthy.

How many ‘empty’ people fall into all sorts of relationship each trying to ciphon some measure of fulfilment from another empty tank, yikes!

Empty + empty = no fuel to go anywhere! lol

Rangie's avatar

@Coloma Yes, you are right. It seems to be a woman’s issue for the most part. It is how we were raised, but I have a little rebel in me. I like independence and appreciate it in others. I love being able to do things for people, just because. I don’t like it when someone says, I will repay you one day. That is not why I do what I do. But, usually when someone says that, it makes me wonder if, when they do something for someone, do they expect something in return?

Coloma's avatar

@Rangie

I’m right there with you, and yes, usually they do

Nohing worse than someone arbitrarily deciding you ‘owe’ them for a ‘gift’ or ‘favor.’ lol

Rangie's avatar

@Coloma Those people don’t really know the meaning of giving. There is too much, I give you a gift, what did you get me? going on. Like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and so on. My favorite time to give a gift is for no reason at all.

slick44's avatar

So its like when the plane is going down, and the oxygen mask drop. You put yours on first so that you can help others. correct? because if your passed out you can’t help anyone!

Rangie's avatar

@slick44 That sounds very smart.

Coloma's avatar

@slick44

Yes, unless they are ultra obnoxious in which case you just smile through your mask while they suffocate. ;-) haha

Rangie's avatar

@Coloma now, now, did you have someone in mind? I will never understand people like that. Actually, I should, I have a sister like that. She use to do little things to help me out after my divorce. Then all of a sudden she would call me at the last minute and ask me to babysit for her 3 kids. She would find a way to remind me of what she did for me. I got to the point where I would try to stop her before she could do anything. I never knew how she was going to make me repay her and how many times.

slick44's avatar

@Coloma… thats not funny. :) hahaha

Coloma's avatar

@Rangie

Yes, the favor that lasts forever.
My one friend knows I’m on to her so she doesn’t pull this with me, but..OMG, in her family, it’s chronic. The thing that gets me about some of these types is that they insist on doing whatever, won’t take no for an answer and then still complain. lol

I started telling my friend about 4 years ago that anything you expect back when ‘giving’ is not a gift. I’m out of that loop forever.

Rangie's avatar

@Coloma You got that right. Yeah, they do something you really didn’t want done, or give you something you wouldn’t have purchased yourself. And then down the road wham! they hit you for the repay.
You know, I don’t really think that there are many people that always put other people first. And if they do, I would wonder why?

Val123's avatar

In my experience, people who do that actually see themselves, secretly, as long suffering martyrs. They tend to act like every one takes advantage of them. In a way it’s really quite a selfish thing to do.

Rangie's avatar

@Val123 if they can’t help, just because they want to, then they souldn’t help at all. I think we all need to work on balance. Give and don’t give. Too much of a good thing, isn’t good.

Val123's avatar

@Rangie I agree. I just knew someone personally who was always putting other people ahead of herself but constantly making comments about what she did for other people, and it was annoying, and is this anybody I know from another life???

Rangie's avatar

@Val123 That is like my sister. Ugh, really gets old fast doesn’t it? I have actually told her, then don’t do it anymore. Frankly I get tired of hearing about it. She had a crooked nose for a while. There is not enough time in life to keep dancing around the same bush. If I think it, I usually say it. sometimes it is open mouth insert foot. Oh well, that’s life.

Val123's avatar

@Rangie egg zactly! It’s like, “Then STOP!!” When we were teenagers Mom would complain and yell about us not folding our own clothes and having to do it for us. We said, “We don’t care if our clothes are folded!” So she started just dumping the baskets of clean clothes on a dresser in the upstairs hallway to teach us a lesson. It backfired, because we really didn’t care if our clothes were folded! I look back and see so much stuff she got angry about, but never did anything about it except complain. She’d yell at us to clean our rooms. We’d take everything in the room, from clothes to toys, and throw it down the clothes chute into the basement! She’d wash the clothes, fold them, take them to our room, take all of the toys, etc. and put them where they belonged in our rooms, complaining the whole time. I woulda popped my kids one the first time they ever tried that on me!

Rangie's avatar

@Val123 Yes, what is that about. Could it be control? This whole thing about always putting others first. Maybe their motive is Control. I did this for you, now you are under my control. Feel sorry for me, think I am a great deserving person, But please don’t figure me out.

Val123's avatar

@Rangie Control and….IDK. Maybe a lack of self esteem? If I do and do for others they’ll like me better?

dogkittycat's avatar

I enjoy helping people out anyway that I can no matter what it is. Doing this makes me happy because I feel good about myself, knowing that I did a good deed. Do I do this all the time for anyone….no. I think for someone to be happy there has to be a fair balance of selfishness and selflessness.I may not drop what I’m doing to help someone all the time, but I help out when possible. Since my grandma died a little while ago I ‘ve been visiting my grandpa at least once a week and help him out around the house, make lunch for him, do his laundry. My grandparents had been married for almost 57 years, he’s in his 80’s he doesn’t know how to do things and isn’t comfortable changing, which I understand. Which is why he is one of the few people I will drop everything for. My mom even goes over everyday to spend time with him too, for family I’d be willing to do almost anything.

Val123's avatar

@dogkittycat Sure! You get a good feeling helping others out. But to never do anything for yourself is not good.

PacificToast's avatar

Yes, you can be happy because you put someone ahead of yourself. Maybe you can do something nice for this person? My mother has often said the same of me, as I often let my younger sister have the better of two choices in most situations. It’s just my character to do this. I’m happy with me.

Adagio's avatar

Doesn’t life consist of both scenarios, sometimes putting others first (e.g. one’s children), sometimes putting oneself first (e.g. taking care of one’s health; the need for recreation)... I would say a balance between the two is both healthy and realistic… I would go as far as to say always putting others first and entirely disregarding one’s own needs and desires sounds rather pathological…from my perspective….

JeffVader's avatar

@ChazMaz @OneMoreMinute Just so you know, it’s not them that says they do so much for others, it’s an observation I’ve made about this person.

Val123's avatar

@JeffVader Good point. There is a difference between people who do things for other people without even thinking about it, and people who do things for other people and find some sly way to make a big deal about it….

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