How to get out of helper mode

Do you find you are constantly looking out for opportunities to help people? Do you feel happiest when you’re able to help others, even when that helping others leaves you feeling depleted, exhausted, and frazzled? If so you’re not alone! 

Society seems to value selfless over-giving and it needs to stop! Or at the very least there needs to be some balance- so that you can help where you can but you also learn to take a back seat sometimes and let other people help you!

Here’s how to get out of helper mode!

how to get out of helper mode, image of holding hands

At one point I gave up drinking alcohol because I always wanted to be there for everyone if they needed me. I was on call constantly, ever looking out for another way of coming to everyone’s rescue without thinking of the potential cost to me being available 24/7.

It never really occurred to me the potential impact it would have on those around me if I ended up in a crumpled heap due to putting everyone else’s needs first.

I’m not talking about being selfish, and never helping anyone ever again, but to consider pacing how much help you give so that you still have some personal battery left over for yourself and your own needs.

how to get out of helper mode. Image of a red first aid pouch being held up in someones hand

As  a child I remember going to a local country show and taking with me a simple first aid kit. I felt powerful and useful and happy that if anyone needed a plaster I was there ready with one! I could help them. When I was at school and work I always had a range of painkillers, pads and tampons available for everyone else’s emergencies.

Maybe I wanted to do this so that I didn’t have to ask anyone else for a pad or a paracetamol or maybe I needed to be liked.

Maybe I felt I had little value without being in helper mode? Or perhaps I got so much praise for being a ‘good girl’ that I wanted more of that to make me feel worthy and worthwhile?

What do you gain from being in helper mode?

Can you think of why you’re constantly wanting to help people? Is it because really you need to be helped? Are you giving others what you need? What do you gain from always putting everyone else first? But also at what cost?

One of my friends was told to consider having ‘at what cost’ tattooed on her forearm. Now this is a bit extreme I grant you, but the point was that every time she tried to over help people, agree to helping people when her body and brain was screaming to say no, what cost did this bring?

Sometimes if we consider if we really do want to help or if we would be better off spending the time doing something we love, recharging our own batteries and resting we can then learn to say no to things.

Helping others, but at what cost?

The cost of over-giving and self-sacrifice could easily be burnout or for me to become a burden on others due to me not taking enough care of myself. If I don’t look after myself my body will grind to a halt and force me to stop. My bones will become weary.

In order for me to protect my ability to be useful to society I’m going to need to carefully curate my time and to decide what my priorities are so that I continue to have strength to support my friends and family and my clients.

how to get out of helper mode just say no image of a hand holding a pink post it note saying no on it

How do to get out of helper mode

Find other ways of getting the validation and praise you crave. Know that you’re a fabulous person even if you do decline helping that one particular person when you’re feeling overstretched. Metaphorically you need to put your own oxygen mask on first.

Decide on your longer-term goals and accept opportunities that take you nearer to meeting these goals.

Before agreeing to do something to help someone think carefully about what you truly want to do?

Do you really want to say no? Do you find it hard to say no? Are you afraid you will be seen as being mean, selfish, heartless or rude if you say no? If so you may need to practice saying no to smaller requests at first hen work up to the bigger ones!

Sarah Cooper

Sarah Cooper

I am a Reflexologist, Reiki Master Practitioner and Writer from Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire. I love writing about Health and Wellbeing, Mind Body Spirit and Reflexology. When I’m not at work, you can find me in the kitchen cooking up a storm!

If you’d like to book a treatment please go to


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