Twelve Tips on How to Be Selfless

Helping without expecting something in return is to be selfless. What you consider a small action may be a big deal to someone else. Here are tips for helping others without expecting a reward.
Twelve Tips on How to Be Selfless

Last update: 19 April, 2023

Should you be selfless and place others’ needs before your own?

Well, no, but it’s a thin line, and what being selfless actually means is having the willingness to help others without expecting something in return. Not only will it bring you a lot of satisfaction, but you’ll also be kinder.

Look up selflessness online and one of the first definitions is “concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.” From there, ask yourself how many times you act without thinking only about what’s in it for you, what suits you, and what makes you feel good.

The importance of thinking this way

Being selfless allows you to better understand the world from other perspectives and visualize problems, attitudes, and reactions from a different point of view. It isn’t easy to develop the tendency to help without thinking of yourself first, but it’s definitely rewarding.

According to Allan Luks and Peggy Payne’s book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others, selflessness decreases stress and enhances emotional balance.

In addition, the satisfaction isn’t only momentary but comes every time you remember the caring action. It increases your self-esteem, confidence, and socializing skills and you also give back to your environment.

Tips on how to be selfless

Take a few minutes to reflect on how to be supportive without feeding the ego whenever you can. Do you find it difficult? Continue reading, the following tips might make it simpler.

1. Be empathetic

Being selfless goes beyond your own thoughts, beyond focusing only on your emotions and what you want. It isn’t about self-absorption, but about listening and understanding others, knowing what makes them tick for good or bad. It’ll help you recognize any ways in which you can ass a little light to their lives.

A couple talking.
Empathy allows you to disconnect from your ego to project it towards others.

2. Listen more and talk less

One way to show interest in someone is to listen to them, especially if they want to share an accomplishment or vent about their problems.

Ask them how their day went and give them a chance to express themselves and relieve burdens. You’ll find that in the course of the conversation, they’ll want to hear from you, too.

3. Don’t criticize

Edify, instead of highlighting the bad. There are many ways to say the same thing and it’s better to give a constructive opinion if yours isn’t positive. Emphasize what’s good and encourage it.

4. Love yourself

It’s impossible to love others if you don’t love yourself. Authentic selflessness begins when you love yourself and you can only love others from there. One way to do so is to be grateful for who you are.

5. It isn’t always good to stand out

It isn’t bad to be generous; what’s unpleasant is to exalt oneself or to expect awards for kindness.  Let the facts speak for themselves whenever you do some altruistic work and help someone in need. That makes your actions more special.

6. Give what you’d like for yourself

Start with your family and offer them a treat, for example. Small actions pave the way for bigger gestures. No, you don’t have to please others, but you’ll understand how good it feels when you do.

7. Cultivate patience

Selfless people tend to practice patience, a desirable quality to avoid frustration or anger. Thus, don’t despair for trying to get ahead, your time will come.

There’s no point in getting upset with those in front of you; keep in mind it could be you. Start a conversation instead; it’s more entertaining for everyone.

8. Say “no” less

It’s more fulfilling to say “yes” so be positive when a situation that involves no risk or danger and will bring happiness and joy. Usually, you have something to give or a way to help. So, why not do it if it’s of great significance to the one who needs it!

9. Let it flow

Being in control of what happens isn’t too important. You gain more when you let it flow and allow yourself to be surprised by what the road to the goal holds. You’ll eventually see how rewarding it is to help.

10. Reflect on your behavior

Take time to reflect on your habits, thoughts, and actions. Review the way you treat yourself and the way you treat others. Also, analyze whether you could’ve given or loved more.

Don’t do it as a punishment though, only to make the next day better. Some psychologists recommend loving-kindness meditation to work on your emotions.

11. Pursue a model of selflessness

Imitate the example of a figure you admire and perceive as selfless. Understand how they help others and how their actions impact so many lives. There are many good examples to follow out there.

12. Forgive from the heart

Don’t hold a grudge against those who ask for your forgiveness. Visualizing what happened from another perspective helps to be compassionate. It isn’t easy to apologize to someone who hurt you but it’s a big step towards selflessness and peaceful coexistence.

A woman seated on a coach.
It’s difficult to forgive and forget grudges but it’s a healing process that puts you on the path to empathy as a form of liberation.

Find out the Differences Between Self-Compassion and Playing the Victim

The value of being selfless

Finally, being selfless is treating others as you’d like to be treated, without hurting them in any way for your own benefit. In fact, its value is evidenced in personal growth and selflessness for the welfare of others.

In addition, don’t wait for a specific time for action and be generous daily. For instance, offer a seat to an elderly or pregnant person in the bus, donate the clothes you no longer wear, hold the elevator door open for someone to get on, say hello when entering a place, and wish people a good day.

These everyday gestures feed your mind, spirit, and emotions when you do them from the heart without expecting recognition.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.