If You Want To Help Others, You Must First Help Yourself

My 30th birthday gift to myself probably isn’t what you’d expect.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Turning 30 a few days ago really didn’t feel any different than when I turned 28, or 29 for that matter.

I didn’t wake up the next morning feeling older — or one year closer to death, as some would see it. It didn’t feel like my life was getting away from me, or that it’s too late to make a change or start something new. It didn’t feel like I’d missed the boat, or that the best years of my life are already behind me, as others would have me believe.

Instead, it was much more positive and exciting than that, and I think that’s partly because of how I’ve chosen to look at this milestone in my life.

I’m approaching these next 365 days with the attitude of this is my year.

This is the year where I do what I want, try what I want to try, and be who I want to be.

This is the year where I make myself a priority — not because I’m selfish — but because it doesn’t benefit me, or anybody else, when I don’t.

In his book The Early to Rise Experience, writer and speaker Andy Traub says that when you’re healthy, you’ll bless those around you more than you are now. And by “healthy,” he doesn’t just mean physically (although that certainly helps!)

He’s referring to all areas of your life: mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, as well as components such as relationships, finances, career/business, friendships, etc.

There’s no question that I want to start being of service. I want to help others, and I want to give my life new meaning. I want to build something that I can be proud of, and that makes an impact on the world. Isn’t that what we all want, deep down?

How can I do that, though, if I don’t first help myself?

If I don’t know how to change my own life, how can I help guide or support others on their journeys?

Traub says, “When you take care of yourself at the start of your day, you can spend the rest of the day pouring into others.”

By that, he means making the time for you every single day, to do the things that give you energy and lift you up; the things that are important to you and make you feel good. They’re what make you you.

I have all kinds of these things: dreaming, reading, writing, meditation, working on myself, being in nature, learning, personal development or self-help books, workshops, courses, watching documentaries, autobiographies of top achievers. These are the things I’m naturally drawn to. This is what I will gravitate towards when left to my own devices.

You probably have a few “things” of your own. We all do. They’re the things we keep hidden from the world, locked up tight, safe inside. We don’t share them for a number of reasons. You have yours, and I have mine.

Only, I’m now getting tired of my reasons.

That’s why this is going to be my year of giving to myself.

All those things I’ve been wanting to do for years? All the things I’ve been thinking I should/could do, but haven’t? All the things I’ve thought of trying, but don’t? They’re happening this year.

My birthday gift to myself is giving myself permission to be me — because nobody else will.

If we look to the world for permission, we’ll never get it.

The world tells us all kinds of things about what it means to be 30. It dictates how we should live our lives, what we should have accomplished by now, what our living situation should be, and what our marital status should be (married), and what we should be working towards.

When you look around, there’s no end to society’s guidelines (rules) for humans at any age. Throw out a number, any number, and there are pre-defined “ideals” for us and boxes to check at that age, too. Lucky us!

It can be hard not to get swept up by these expectations and social pressures, simply because we’re human.

We all want connection. We all want to fit in. We all want to be liked. We all want to feel accepted and appreciated and loved. Even if you think you don’t, you do. These are just basic human needs.

We do the things we think we’re “supposed” to do to be accepted, but they’re often not the things we really want to do — the things that light us up.

What good are we doing, though, by hiding the parts of us that shine the brightest? Who are we helping by ignoring the things that speak to us?

I’ve definitely tried, but I haven’t found an answer to these questions that I’m satisfied with.

That’s why I have to go inside. I have to focus on my inner life.

I have to look to myself for the answers. I have to follow what feels right, and pay attention to the things I’m naturally drawn to.

“You need to go for the inner joy, the inner peace, the inner vision first, and then all of the outer things appear.”

— Marci Shimoff, #1 NYT Bestselling Author & Transformational Leader

If you want to help others, you must first help yourself.

Life is an adventure, and learning is never finished. Sharing insights, experiences, and lessons learned to inspire your curiosity and creativity.

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