To be able to help others we must first help ourselves. Most everyone would agree with this statement. But if we look a little deeper we find that we often engage in helping others as a means to avoid doing the inner work on ourselves. It is a way to avoid that work and still feel good about ourselves.
Ouspensky in his In Search of the Miraculous quotes George Gurdjieff as saying:
“In order to be able to help people one must first learn to help oneself. A great number of people become absorbed in thought and feelings about helping others simply out of laziness. They are too lazy to work on themselves; and at the same time it is very pleasant for them to think about that they are able to help others. This is being false and insincere with oneself. If a man looks at himself as he really is, he will not begin to think of helping other people: he will be ashamed to think about it.”
This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.