Is the phrase nobody is gonna help but yourself true?

A dad

Active Member
This phrase bugged me now in my older years did we as adults have only ourselves to lean upon. I noticed that in the end everything I have is because I had support if not financial, emotional one I was never really alone in my endeavors someone was always there to help me from my parents, to my girlfriends to my wife to my employer to my colleagues in the end all that I accomplished from my job to my family to my house was because I had help. It makes me wonder people that say that phrase are ignoring the ones who actually help them because I really doubt nobody is helping them.


Well-Known Member
People will always be willing to help you if you are a kind and good person, don't you think? But if you steal, cheat, break the law and cause chaos wherever you go....your girlfriends, wife, employers and colleagues will never help you, rightfully. Our difficult children can point their fingers at who isn't doing what for them, when they do that, three fingers point right back at them. Everyone wants to give their child a hand up, when that just becomes repeated handouts that are just expected, there is no motivation to do for oneself. Especially if the kid is stealing from you while cursing and demanding the world on a platter.


Roll With It
Like almost everything else in the world, the phrase is true in some situations and not in others. I think it is false more than true, but it can be true.

With our difficult kids, it is true much of the time. No matter what ANYONE does, if the kid won't put in the effort, no one will help because no one CAN help. No matter what anyone does, if the kid refuses to use the tools they are given or taught, well, generally you cannot make them. I have found that people can be very willing to help, but you have to ask or let them know that you need help. I have also found that in many situations the help will go away and not come back if you abuase the help or the helper.

in my opinion, this is a phrase that our difficult kids use to justify their failures, manipulate relatives and authority figures, and get out of helping anyone else. I know that there is nothing in my life that I have accomplished without the help & support of my family. Even the things that I did without them lifting a finger were still done with their support, love and belief in me.


Well-Known Member
i agree that in most situations one can not do it alone... I think we all need support in various things in our lives and this is true for our difficult children as well. But I think the key is that you also need to be willing to help yourself...... no one else can solve your problems or do it for you. I think a lot of times our difficult children want just to me it makes sense to help someone who is helping themselves, but to step back and not help or try to do it for someone who is not helping themselves. This can get tricky at times.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Everyone needs help from time to time.
I have been on the receiving end and the giving end.
For me, it comes down to the attitude in which help is received. I am more than happy to help someone, however, if the person I am helping shows no gratitude but instead shows an attitude of entitlement, that sets the tone for me to not want to help them again.
Helping is a hand up, not a hand out.


Well-Known Member
I've never heard that particular phrase, but it might better be modified to 'Nobody is OBLIGATED to help you but yourself, and if somebody does, you should be grateful'.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
To me, the heart of the issue of helping is: Is the help we give helping the person? If over time our helping has created dependency, then we have to be responsible enough to the person we are making an effort to help to revise our methods.

Recovering Enabler posted to us here once that when we resent the help we are giving, that is when we can know we are enabling unhealthy behaviors in the person we are trying to assist.

Again, given that we are the ones able to help, we are the ones who should then remain committed to developing a different strategy: What is the goal. How do we get there? What have we already tried? What can we try that is different than what we believed would work but only made everything impossibly worse?

It isn't morally correct to blame the person we are trying to help because what we have chosen to do hasn't helped them. If the problem still exists, then we need to find a better way to help. "Helping" so we feel better about ourselves, whatever is happening to the person, or to the group of people, we are committed to helping, doubly victimizes the person or group needing help.
Those having elected to help get to throw up their hands and say that despite all their wonderfulness, the person or group in question is still where they are.

We get to be wonderful, and they don't.

If there were an easy solution, the person would have done what needed to be done for himself and would never have required our assistance.

We need to hold faith with one another. If we are the ones able to help, we should do so, but we need to be responsible to the person we are helping. If something isn't working, we need to stop. Because we are the ones who can, we are the ones who need to come up with a better way.



Well-Known Member
I think sometimes there is a fine line between trying to help a situation and trying to control a situation by "helping". In general I think we shouldnt help or give advice unless it is asked for.... certainly there are times when we can offer help but that doesnt work if we resent the person who doesnt accept our help! Same with advice, it can be good if freely given but is unfair to the other person when there is resentment at advice not taken!

It is trickier I think with our kids.... I think I have finally gotten to a place where I have stopped trying to control the sitatuion but can offer advice and sometimes help but without control. It can be a very hard line to walk with an adult kid who has made so many bad decisions and gotten into so much trouble and where drugs is an issue.