Creativity Home & living inner voices Obstacles to happiness

Why prioritizing your own projects will make you a more generous person

picture girl blowing dandelion

Have you ever wondered why it’s so much easier to help other people with their problems than to fix your own things? You just can’t help lend a hand when someone close to you – or even a stranger – is in need. You spend hours and hours listening to other peoples problems and trying to help them out – but when it’s time to work on your own projects – whether it’s painting that painting, cleaning your desk or working on your website – you mysteriously loose both focus and confidence.

You start questioning yourself, you start looking for something else you’d rather do. In theory you know you can do it. In reality, you procrastinate, and come up with all different kinds of excuses why you shouldn’t be doing it right now.

What’s going on here? How come this smart, creative and competent person that is you sometimes gets totally blocked when it’s time to work for yourself?

The deepest fear

Even though there can be many different reasons why we act this way (fear of failing or general perfectionism just to name a few) there’s another, incredibly common, reason I want to focus on today.

When we help others we feel good – literally. Helping means that we are a good person, kind, caring. Helping others, we figure, improves our chances to receive love – and utterly, we all want to be loved, right?

But when we do something that mainly serves ourselves – no matter how much joy the activity itself brings us – we fear to being perceived as self-indulgent, even selfish.

Taking this one step further – why do we fear to be perceived as selfish? Quite obviously – selfish people are not very nice, so on a deeper level

We fear that people will not love us.

Ouch. No wonder you weren’t so keen digging into that project of yours if you (well that means your subconscious, but still) believe THAT is what’s at stake.

Bringing it into the light

When looking at this story in bright daylight, I’m sure you agree with me it sounds a bit far out:

If I play my guitar/make a painting/organize my papers to make my life more fun/easier/better I’m selfish, no-one will love me and I will stay lonely forever.”

Still, these are the kind of messages we keep buying into, because usually they never reach the conscious part of our brains. They just rush through our systems with the speed of light, leaving us feeling scared and confused, without us having an idea what happened. (My cognitive therapist called them “Automatic thoughts”)

But now since we’ve gotten it out of the dark, how about doing some conscious questioning:

First of all, what happens to YOU when you keep putting your own things off in order to help others? Does it make you happy?

The answer is probably, that even if you DO enjoy helping others, (which I’m sure you do) if you never get around to working on your book or cleaning up your house you will eventually become disturbed. With time this can grow into resentment, bitterness and jealousy. Secretly you start accusing others of stealing your time, and you might even start accusing people who do get on with their stuff for being… oops!…selfish. Sorry to say this, but these are not very loveable features 🙁

And second: IF you have people close to you who actually prefer that you put your dreams on hold in order to help them realize THEIRS – is this really the kind of people you want around? If someone REALLY loves you, doesn’t this mean that they want you to do whatever makes you happy?

picture blurry basketball goal

Do you mysteriously loose focus when it’s time to work for yourself?

How to REALLY be loveable

The truth is, most people love to be around happy and inspiring people – people who are striving to live their full potential.

So if you want to be loved – aim at doing things that make you happy, even if this sometimes means that you have to say no to helping out someone else.

Don’t get me wrong – helping others is a beautiful thing, and also something we need to do in order to feel as we’re part of this world. But you need to have a balance!

The irony is that it’s often the people who help others the most who also fear most to be self-indulgent.

So if you’re still worrying about being selfish, please try to remember that by doing your best to live your full potential you will actually help others – by allowing them to do so as well. First of all by being a role model & inspiring them, but also since you avoid becoming that bitter and envious person. Happy people feel no need to put other people down for doing THEIR thing.

Finally, as Gretchen Rubin states in her lovely book “The happiness project”, it’s scientifically proven that

Happier people are more generous

They give more, volounteer more and they love more than unhappy people. Doesn’t sound very selfish, does it?

Easier said than done?

If you find that you keep putting off your own stuff, in spite of knowing better, I’d love to help you out. Working with a coach is a very powerful way to move from feeling stuck, lost and confused to actually doing the things you really want! When we work together I will help you explore what is stopping you, and find the tools that work best for you to get you into action 🙂 To learn more about my coaching programs or book a FREE consultation call go HERE

Over to you

What’s on your mind? Have you heard that whisper warning you for being self-indulgent? Or are your inner voices saying something completely different? If you feel like it, please share your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear what you think!

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  1. Yes this is a dance I have got better at the last couple of years… Since finding time for my own stuff, I am a lot happier and a better person to know and I love it when people are inspired by me….I was not so nice to be around when I felt like an empty husk of a person with a pit of resentment in my belly. Great post..Great reminder. thanks x
    Lisa McLoughlin recently posted…Your website can be your soul cafe…My Profile

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with your point.
    I used to feel really self-indulgent when I’d put off doing client work for writing my blog or painting my personal art. I thought I was being irresponsible, because that’s what I was taught.

    But then I realized that I did this out of a deep, authentic need to express what’s in my heart, before I can go and help others. And while I still occasionally hear my inner critic throwing a fit, I’m embracing this truth more and more.
    Nela recently posted…This is the main reason behind everything I do (My long-winded mission statement)My Profile

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