Dr. Gabor Mate shares in a video, The Dangers Of Being Too Nice | Dr. Gabor Maté, that we can be too nice, and that it may be a trauma reaction to having not received the nurturing that we needed as a child. Constantly helping others may be suppressing any hurt or lonely feelings about your own needs in your adult life - yet you still have feelings and needs. We all need support. Humans are social creatures and connection is stress reducing.
The Dangers Of Being Too Nice | Dr. Gabor Maté
Helping gives us a good feeling, a dopamine and oxytocin/vasopressin burst, which then can become an addiction, like anything else that increases dopamine. Balance is needed in helping others and helping oneself - daily self care tasks are our chores. Farmers have to feed the animals, weed the garden, and take care of their own needs.
Dr. Mate makes the point that denying your own needs too much, helping others too much, may get a lot of tears at your funeral, but it may take place decades earlier than average.
Helping others can be also be a way to ignore your own problems - or deny them. My problems are no big deal compared to these other issues that I am helping with.
A phrase on a Tarot card helped me see this issue in my own life - was I being "inappropriately helpful" - possibly yes, I drew the card often for a while. People don't appreciate unasked for advice, nor do they want a micromanager. You can see where someone is steering off the side of a cliff, but you can't really stop them from living their life, nor can you really understand what their motivation might be.
Guidance from my dad has also stuck with me - as the driver with two small children in the car, he made it clear that wearing my seatbelt was a duty. As pilot - I needed to be sure I would be in control of the vehicle if something happened. It took some therapy too to break my not wanting to wear a seat belt habit. As a child we were forced and I hated feeling trapped. Therapy into early childhood trauma suddenly helped break through some issue that was causing me to resist my parents forcing me to buckle up, decades after they were sitting in the car with me. My early childhood resistance to being forced had lingered. Why would I risk myself or kids later in life? I don't know - oppositional defiance seems like the "label" that fits. I was defying my parents even though I was an adult. The therapy breakthrough helped me to see that whatever had happened was long ago, and they had just been young people trying to figure out parenting too. I could get on with my own life now.
Racial divisiveness has been highlighting white women negatively when losing self control in public, whether angry or anxious - I would point out that while some women seem to be raised to be bossy, many other females raised in a white culture background are taught to be very submissive and servile even - helping others selflessly is the female role. Housewives of that type may not get to "retire" from their job either, instead being expected to work until they are no longer able to do the chores of daily living. Why should a man get to retire from his "job" but not a woman? Both should keep busy with mental and physical tasks as it helps maintain cognitive function.
Helping others is nice. Helping oneself is a need in order to be able to continue helping others. Balance is a need for maintaining health and function.
Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.