What is the ‘Help First’ Idea and How Can It Help You?

A photograph of shaking hand.

Often, when we are bogged down in the day-to-day challenges of ‘work’ or even managing the work of others, we can easily get overwhelmed by our responsibilities.

These days it can seem like we have too much to do and too little time to do it in… Or even that the entire world is conspiring against us, in terms of what we need to do and get accomplished not just to get ahead, but to keep going.

When all of this stress begins to seem like just too much, figuring out how to dig out of this hole can be as overwhelming as the initial overwhelm itself.

However, it is in times like this, that some experts say we need to turn to the ‘Help First’ strategy.

What is this? What does it mean to ‘help first’ and how can this actually help you solve the problems or challenges you’re facing?

If you feel like you can barely help yourself, the idea of helping others first might feel somewhat laughable. Yet, there are many top voices in the fields of psychology, organizational theory, and leadership development, who contend that this is the answer to coping with—and overcoming—our own challenges, problems, and struggles.

According to this article on the Help First idea on inc.com, the crux of this principle is simple:

If you’re in a difficult situation, and you notice someone else is too, try helping first. 

According to the author of this article Justin Bariso, this does many positive things.

First, it jump-starts the power of empathy.

Specifically, Barriso says, “When a home or workplace lacks empathy, the bad days usually multiply. Because if one person is having a bad day, everyone suffers. You end up with an environment that’s (collectively) full of bad days. But when one person follows the help-first rule, others usually follow. Now, you’re building a culture based on trust and teamwork.”

Then, it also takes the focus off ourselves and our problems, freeing up our ‘natural brainpower’ (our subconscious) to solve our problems for us…

When we are totally self-focused, we can get buried in our own issues and finding solutions for those issues is like chasing the wind. However, if and when we can reduce or redirect that self-focused attention, we often find that the answers to our challenges seemingly ‘appear out of nowhere.’

Yet, what we’ve really done is give our brain a rest from trying to work out a solution or solutions to our sometimes, really complex problems. By taking off this pressure through focus redirection, even temporarily, we give our subconscious a chance to take over and work things out in the background.

Therefore, when answers seem to just ‘appear out nowhere,’ what has really happened is that we’ve stopped stressing over finding answers and instead, have shifted our conscious brainpower and effort outward. This allowed answers to problems or challenges we are personally facing and need to solve, to come to us naturally, rather than through major effort or force.

If you are facing problems you can’t seem to solve or that are just stressing you out and keeping you overwhelmed and in knots, consider trying out the ‘Help First’ strategy.

In addition to showing much-needed empathy to others and building your own social capital and goodwill, you might find that you are able to work out your own solutions at the very same time.