Why you can’t help everyone


Kevin Mangelschots

Unfortunately, you can’t help everyone. At least, this is what I believe to be true. Sometimes you just have to think, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”, no matter how harsh that might seem.

But why do I think you can’t aid everyone? Because I believe that the requisite to be helped and saved requires wanting to be rescued. Because how do you aid someone who has already lost the will to live?

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that we should give up on people, or that we shouldn’t try to help others. Because when you aid someone, you assist everyone in society.

Let’s explore why being able to assist everyone in need is unfortunately a utopia.

A black white image of someone's hand reaching out for help.

There are a variety of reasons why someone can’t be helped. The following list is the most common causes:

  1. They don’t want to be helped

    Not everyone wants to be helped, and we need to respect that fact.

    Sure, this is easier said than done, especially if we like and love the person in question. But I think we often end up doing more harm than good if we try to push ourselves on others, no matter how well intended it is.

    People who don’t want to be saved will most likely be annoyed by the fact that we don’t respect their wishes, nor will they try if their heart isn’t in it.

    Regardless, it’s good that people know you’re there for them if they want aid. Just make sure not to push your good intentions on them. If they know you’re there for them, then they will ask your aid if they want to.

  2. They’re too far gone

    Perhaps people have been living terrible lives, like being depressed, or suicidal for so long, that they can’t be saved anymore.

    Some folks might have suffered so much that they don’t even know how to get better anymore. And as a result, they might not believe that they can ever get better, no matter what they or someone else does.

    Nevertheless, people are incredibly resilient and can come back from the brink of death. That’s why you should be careful with labeling people as being too far gone. Chances are large, there’s something you can do to assist them.

  3. You don’t have the required skills

    A funny cartoon about how trying to help others can backfire.

    Helping others requires an extremely varied skill set. Think of abilities such as active listening skills, having knowledge and experience with the issue/disorder they’re dealing with, being empathetic, and having patience, among many other skills.

    This might sound relatively simple at first, but learning, and effectively employing these abilities takes a lot of time and effort to do so effectively.

    I’m not saying that you need to be a professional health care practitioner to aid others. But sometimes, especially in extreme and complex cases such as dealing with suicidal and severely depressed people, it most certainly helps!

  4. You’re not the right person at the right time

    At times, you can do everything right and still fail. That’s a harsh reality that’s true for a lot of facets of life.

    Perhaps the person you’re trying to help is so down on themselves that literally nothing you do is helpful, and nobody, even the best specialist in the world, wouldn’t be able to support them.

    Perhaps the time is right, but you’re not the right person to facilitate them. That’s not even to say that you aren’t capable, but perhaps the person in question doesn’t fully trust you, or maybe they don’t think you can help them, even though you can.

    Whatever the reason is, sometimes the time just isn’t right, and perchance you’re simply not the right person for the job. That’s not to say that you can’t aid other people, but unfortunately, you can’t help everyone, even though you might want to.

  5. They don’t trust you

    Trust is essential in life. It is the foundation for building long-lasting and meaningful relationships, regardless if the kinship is based on friendship, romantics, or business.

    The same applies when aiding others in need. I’m a health care practitioner, and as someone who’s involved in the medical profession, I know that trust and the willingness to get better (which means that they actively put in the time and effort) are vital aspects to improve.

    Without trust, they most likely won’t take your advice to heart. Irrespective if it’s great advice or not. Always remember that a friend to all is a friend to none. That’s why you should be honest with yourself, and others.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does, “we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone” mean?

The quote, “everybody can do something, and can actually change something tomorrow”, written on a blue background.

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone, which means that there are far too many people in need of one person to aid them all. Yet, each individual can help someone in need.

It can also point to the fact that some people just can’t be helped because they don’t want to be assisted. Nevertheless, there are others that we can facilitate, and that want to be aided as well. As a result, everyone can help someone.

Regardless, almost everyone knows someone in need that they can help. Perhaps it’s someone they know who’s suffering from depression, or suicidal thoughts, or perhaps it’s a homeless person living on the streets suffering from the harsh cold without much food to survive.

There is always something we can do. Yet, being too idealistic and expecting to be able to aid everyone is a utopia. It is impossible to do, no matter who you are.

Who said, “No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone?”

President Reagan speaking in Minneapolis in 1982.

Did Ronald Reagan say we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone?

Yes, Ronald Reagan did indeed say we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

Ronald Reagan was born and raised in Tampico, Illinois. He was an American politician, who was the 40th President of the United States and served from 1981-1989. He also functioned as the 33rd governor of California. Before he functioned as the governor of California, he had a rich career in entertainment.

What is the meaning of “we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone”?

The meaning of this particular quote is raising awareness about the good things we can do for others to help them, instead of being selfish and purely focusing on our own needs and desires.

It also entails that unfortunately, it’s not in our capacity to help everyone in need, regardless of who we are and how great our capabilities are. Yet, we shouldn’t be discouraged from this fact because there are still a lot of people we can help. And if every one of us aids a single individual, then the world would be a much better place with less suffering.

It’s also possible that we can’t help certain individuals because they don’t want to be aided. However, every single one of us knows someone who has issues that we can have a positive influence on. Thus, we can all help someone in our vicinity.

Why do you need to stop helping others who don’t want to be aided

Funny illustration about why you shouldn't always help other people.

The biggest reason why you need to stop helping others who don’t want to be aided is that it does more harm than good, in my opinion.

They’ll most likely only get annoyed by the fact that you’re trying to assist them when they don’t want to. It can also make them feel like their wishes aren’t respected.

And ultimately, people aid themselves. What we can do is show them the way, or which door to open to better their lives. Yet, they have to open the door and walk the right path themselves. And nobody can force others to do so. They’ve got to be willing to put in the necessary work to improve their life, or it won’t work out anyway.

Forcing people isn’t the play, either. Because when the individual’s heart isn’t in it, then they won’t try to improve their life. Thus, all energy and time spent trying to assist is effectively wasted effort.


Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

It’s well within everyone’s capacity to help someone in need. We have to deal with and live with the fact that we can’t aid and save everyone who requires help.

This can be especially hard for those of us who are idealistic. Yet, that doesn’t change the fact that being unable to aid everyone is a utopia and another harsh fact of life.

Still, there’s no need to get discouraged. You should be glad to know that there’s at least one individual you know that’s deserving, and in need of your assistance, if only you were to extend a helping hand. Especially to those who are suicidal, or at risk of harming themselves.

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It’s okay to focus on your own needs and desires. I even encourage it to be content and to prevent yourself from becoming vengeful and resentful of others, and life in general.

However, I think solely living for oneself is selfish, and that we should give something back to those around us. Take the time to identify and help someone in your social circle who requires aid in some form or manner.

Not only is it beneficial for them, but it also teaches you valuable qualities such as empathy, active listening skills, and being observant that will serve you well in life. Never mind the fact that it also feels good to do something helpful for other folks out there. An underrated trait of humankind!

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