The Helping Hand: How Supporting Others Can Boost Your Own Self-Esteem
The Helping Hand: How Supporting Others Can Boost Your Own Self-Esteem


Helping others is often seen as an altruistic act, focused on the well-being of the recipient. However, the act of giving can also have surprising benefits for the giver. Research suggests that helping others can actually boost our own self-esteem and sense of self-worth [Source: Post et al., 2008]. Let's explore the psychology behind this phenomenon and how you can leverage the power of helping others to enhance your own sense of confidence.


Why Does Helping Others Make Us Feel Good?

Several factors contribute to the self-esteem boost we experience from helping others:


Social Connection: Humans are social creatures, and helping strengthens social bonds and fosters a sense of belonging. When we help others, we feel more connected to our community and valued by those around us.
Self-Efficacy: Helping others allows us to see ourselves as capable and effective individuals. Successfully completing a helpful act reinforces our belief in our own abilities and contributes to a sense of self-efficacy, the belief in one's ability to achieve goals.


Positive Emotions: Helping elicits positive emotions like compassion, gratitude, and joy. These emotions can counteract negative feelings like self-doubt or anxiety, leading to a more positive self-image.
Meaning and Purpose: Helping others fulfills a basic human need to feel like we are contributing to something larger than ourselves. This sense of purpose can boost self-esteem and overall well-being.


The Helper's High

The positive emotions associated with helping others can trigger the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins, which are associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. This neurochemical response is sometimes referred to as the "helper's high" and can contribute to a more positive self-image [Source: Carlson, 2010].


Putting Helping Others into Action

There are countless ways to incorporate helping behaviors into your daily life and reap the associated self-esteem benefits. Here are a few ideas:


Volunteer your time: Organizations like animal shelters, soup kitchens, or local charities often need volunteers. Donating your time and skills to a cause you care about is a fulfilling way to give back.


Offer help to friends and family: Simple acts of kindness like running errands for an elderly neighbor or offering childcare to a busy friend can make a big difference.


Mentor someone: Share your knowledge and experience with someone who is starting out in their career or learning a new skill. Mentorship is a valuable way to support others and boost their confidence, while also reinforcing your own expertise.


Perform random acts of kindness: Hold the door open for someone, leave a positive comment online, or offer to help someone struggling with a heavy bag. These small gestures can brighten someone's day and contribute to a more positive and helpful atmosphere.



Helping others is not just about the recipient; it's a two-way street that benefits both the giver and the receiver. By incorporating helping behaviors into your life, you can strengthen social connections, experience positive emotions, and cultivate a stronger sense of self-worth and purpose. So, next time you have the opportunity to help someone, remember that you're not just doing them a favor, you're also giving yourself a self-esteem boost.