While someone can be there for others from time to time, this can also be something that consumes their whole life. It is then not going to matter what is taking place in their life, as they will be only too happy to put it to one side.
Due to this, it can be normal for one to ignore their own needs and feelings and to be there for others instead. One can then be in a position where they will rarely achieve anything, or they might able to achieve things when they are not there for others.
But no matter whether one can relate to the former or the latter, they are not going to be able to make as much progress as they could if they focused on their own needs. It is then going to be similar to one focusing on about ten things at once; their energy is going to be scattered.
Even so, there is going to be no reason for one to come to the conclusion that they have the wrong approach. And the main reason for this is that this kind of behaviour is often rewarded in today’s world.
One is likely to surrounded by people who tell them that they are ‘selfless’ human beings, and that more people should be like them. The kind of feedback that they receive can then allow them to feel good about themselves.
Along with this, one could see themselves as being better than people who only think about their own needs. Thus, one can believe that they are morally superior and they can then look down on certain people.
What this can then show is that one believes that there are only two options: either they ignore their needs or they ignore everyone else’s needs. The people who support their behaviour can also identify with the same outlook.
It might then be accurate to say that they believe that there is something wrong with their needs, and this is why they can’t fulfil them in a healthy manner. Through feeling this way, it is to be expected that they will have the tendency to ignore them.
However, even though they view their needs in this way, it doesn’t mean that they realise this. This is something that can take place at a deeper level, and one can then end up reacting to what is taking place just outside of their awareness.
Out of Touch
What is taking place at a deeper level is then going to be what is controlling their behaviour, and in order to avoid this pain, one will want to be there for others. The reason for this is that doing so will allow them to regulate how they feel.
In this sense, one is getting something through being there for others, but this is likely to go unnoticed. And not only can one be oblivious to this, so can the people who they are trying to help.
Still, it is not just that one only wants to be there for others as a way to avoid feeling bad about their own needs; there is also another factor involved. More importantly, one will hope that this will allow them to get their needs met.
One can believe that if they are there for others, it will mean that these people will be there for them. The trouble is that the people they help are unlikely to be able to read minds, and these people can be caught up with their own needs.
There can then be the odd moment when one will be able to get their needs met, but this is likely to be the exception as opposed to the rule. Naturally, it can then be common for one to feel angry about what is taking place.
Yet as they don’t feel comfortable with their own needs, there is a greater chance of them hiding how they feel. Or if they don’t hide it, they could end up taking their pain out on someone else; with this being someone they believe they can walk over, for instance.
What this can do is enable them to protect the image that they have created, and this is not going to be the case if they were to get angry at the people who are only too happy to take from them. But if they were to get angry at them, they could soon feel guilty and ashamed and this may cause them to apologise.
Or if they don’t do this, they could end up doing something for them as a way to deal with how they feel. And when it comes to how people see them, they could say that they have a lot of empathy.
This is not going to be much of a surprise, and this comes down to the fact that one is able to be there for others. Therefore, if they couldn’t put themselves in other people shoes, they wouldn’t be reaching out to them.
Instead, they would just be focused on their own needs and overlooking other people needs. It could then be said that it is clear that they have empathy, and they could also be seen as having compassion.
A Closer Look
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that the people one tries to rescue are only exposed to this kind of behaviour. In fact, they could find that there are times when one behaves in a completely different manner.
If they do what one wants, they could find that they are happy to offer their understanding, but if they are not willing to do this, they could find that one ends up being critical and judgemental. These people could then begin to wonder how they could be warm one moment and cold the next.
What this can show is that they are not displaying real empathy, and the only reason they have moments when they act this way is to get their needs met. It is then the same as how someone can be nice when they want something and they can end up being rude when they don’t.
The understanding that they show is going to be a way for them to gain other peoples approval. And as people are generally going to respond well to this kind of behaviour, it is going to make it easy for them to influence others.
When it comes to who they attract into their life, they are typically going to be people who are have the same level of emotional development as they do. If one wants to experience life differently, it will be important for them to look into why they don’t feel comfortable with their own needs.
This can be due to how their caregivers responded to their needs, and this may have been a time when their needs were generally ignored. The assistance of a therapist may be needed here.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.