Getting the right balance in giving. Is wanting to help people a good thing? This might seem like a no-brainer – but read on McDuff!

Helping others and doing good in the world, has to be a positive thing doesn’t it? When it comes right down to it, yes it does, but everything has to have balance.

A while back I was talking to a friend about how I’d love everyone to be happy. Ok so that’s an idealistic and unrealistic goal but it’s a good thing right? Nope! Not according to my friend who had experienced the imbalanced side of giving and was immediately suspicious when I said how much I loved helping people. He was sure it MUST be some kind of attention-hungry behaviour that meant that I was in need of approval all the time.

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As someone whose raison d’être in life is helping others, I have often asked myself that question.  After all, my mother was a psychologist, so it comes naturally to keep tabs on myself!  What am I doing this for? Are my motives pure or I am actually giving because I want something back? Do I need to help people to feel better about myself, or to get people to like and approve of me?

It’s a tricky one – because I DO feel good when I help other people. It feels fantastic to see a client experience amazing changes that make a difference to their life. But I think that goes for us all.

Most of us love to help others and we don’t do it with any thought of return, just for the pure satisfaction of giving or making a difference to someone’s life.

However, there are people who give ONLY to get something back even if it’s your energy or approval, because they need to feel good about themselves. You’ll know when you’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of help. Instead of feeling grateful you end up feeling harassed and uncomfortable.

I’m not putting those people down because it is easy enough not to feel good about yourself. Who can say they feel truly secure in themselves? It can take many years of work!


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I think it is useful to look closely at yourself, to examine your altruistic motives. Why are you giving – is it because there is part of you that needs to fill a void? If that is the case, don’t feel too bad! Helping people is good!

Ideally though you need to look at why it is that you don’t feel good enough in the first place.

There are all the usual suspects to be considered: childhood, school, parents, relationships – it is likely that somewhere in there, someone has made you think you weren’t enough and that you needed to prove yourself or somehow make up the deficit.

There are lots of self help books out there, but I can recommend Diana Cooper’s ‘Transform your life’. It’s particularly helpful in healing the inner child if you find it relates back to childhood – which for most of us it does! If you prefer to watch a video, then look up Matt Kahn on You Tube who has a lot of very sensible and enlightening things to say about loving yourself and what he calls ‘emotional freedom’.

You deserve to feel good about yourself despite what other people think and it can be done. Then you can go about helping people in a balanced way that makes the world a better place and all the better for having you in it, and what’s more – you’ll know it! 😊