When NOT to put the needs of others before your own

Help Others


The value which states, “You are supposed to put the needs of others before your own” is one of the most misunderstood values there is and far too often becomes a one way ticket to martyrdom.

Those I’ve talked to who have the extreme version of this belief decide that it is their obligation in life to be so devoted to others that their needs don’t matter. Many live with feelings of guilt and desperation as they silently chastize themselves for being “selfish” when all they’re doing is having the momentary realization that they have needs too. 

Well let me set the record straight with my interpretation of the value that, “You are supposed to put the needs of others before your own.”

It means that when you are considering an action, that you should consider how it might impact others as well. By thinking of how it might impact others first you decrease the risk of making an impulsive and purely self serving decision. 

That’s what this value means. Think of others first as a way to make sure the needs of others are considered in your decisions as well. 

It doesn’t mean consider them INSTEAD OF yourself or at the expense of yourself.

You can’t water a garden with an empty pitcher and we aren’t placed on this planet to audition for sainthood. 

We’re human beings and every single one of us has our own needs, many of which we look to our relationships with others to satisfy.

Don’t let your epitaph read, “Here lies someone who loved me unconditionally, went above and beyond to make my life wonderful, but refused to allow me to return the favor.”

Thanks for being you.


Photo Credit Keoki Seu via Flikr 

Thanks for being you

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9 thoughts on “When NOT to put the needs of others before your own

  1. Brian–you are one of the best writers I know!
    And, your blogs are always “on the mark” and appear at the right time, too!
    Many “special ed moms” and dads could use your words of wisdom!
    Take care–

  2. WOW!! This really hits home. What suggestions do you have for getting ourselves out of this vicious “take care of the needs of others first” cycle. It is a daily internal battle. I really enjoyed and learned a lot from your books and appreciate you sharing your vast knowledge with all of us. You really do “get it” and it helps to know that someone understands and cares.

  3. My pleasure Carol. Besides making the all important decision to require more balanced relationships in your life, you also need to identify whether there would be backlash from others over you making the switch. There are many who are all too happy to let us carry the load for them, that’s a pretty sweet deal. As you know, in the end everyone loses if one member of the relationship is a martyr. Therefore there needs to be a discussion about how renegotiating the relationship to a win win will make life significantly better for everyone.

  4. This is such a great thought for me, Brian! Thanks!

    I came up with the very same thought a couple times in the past, but I’d completely forgotten it! (Like most things that I don’t literally see in writing or anywhere else.) It so ties in with what I’ve been thinking and writing about other subjects. What you said here is such a great reminder for me, and now even more than that: now I know someone in the world besides me understands this very thing. Thank you so very much for thinking it and posting it! 🙂 !!!

  5. Thank you Brian for this wonderful reminder.. Joy is my favorite word to teach and live. Jesus Others You.. Sometimes we do forget to include ourselves in the blessings that can come from others. May God continue to bless you and your ministry..

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