Taking care of others can be done with two very different motivations. WIth one, we care for others in an unhealthy way, seemingly sacrificing ourselves, but really acting out of fear or attachment. People who are attached to praise, reputation, relationships, and so forth and who fear losing these may seemingly neglect their own needs to take care of others. But in fact, they are protecting themselves in an unproductive way. Their care comes not from genuine love, but from a self-centered attempt to be happy that is actually making them more unhappy.
The other way of taking care of others is motivated by genuine affection, and this is what the Buddha encouraged. This kind of affection and respect for others doesn’t seek or expect something in return. It is rooted in the knowledge that all other beings want to be happy and to avoid pain just as much as we do.
Buddhism for Beginners by Thubten Chodron, page 32.