Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When helping isn't helpful

There's nothing wrong with offering an occasional hand up, but...

Even though peace is generated from the inside out, it cannot happen without removing certain obstacles. Especially for people like myself and my significant other. You see, we are the kind of people who always reach out to help loved ones who are struggling.

Now, you might think that's a noble gesture. Maybe. Sometimes those we are helping use our help as a launching pad for success. But, as we recently learned, it can also be crippling for all concerned and absolutely poisonous for the relationships you have with those that you're trying to help.

You see, in reality, you can take the good Samaritan thing too far.

What? Surely I jest? No, I do not. Here's why:

Life is hard, my friends. Really, really hard and not just for some of us. It's hard for all of us. To face it, we need strength and lots of it. Where does that strength come from? It comes from handling our own problems.

Doing so (holding our own) is also the thing that best strengthens our self esteem. As in, “I did it! I survived yet another thrown obstacle! I climbed that mountain! I reached another goal! I am capable!”

When we continually rescue those we love from the consequences of their own mistakes (or even help them constantly with the battles of life that are not their fault) we do them a great disservice. Why?

Because we are making them less able to handle life and giving them less reason to take pride in themselves with each “helpful” gesture.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are times when everyone needs a helping hand. There's nothing wrong with reaching out to those who cannot help themselves.

But helping isn't helpful when it becomes a chronic habit and no end in sight.

When another person becomes so dependent on your help that they've forgotten how to help themselves (or simply never learned how because you were always there to catch them when things went wrong) you are doing them zero favors.

Aside from that, you are making yourself miserable too. You're spending so much time on their struggles that you have no time at all to deal with your own. And of course, on the heels of that realization comes anger, resentment, harsh words/actions and hurt feelings for all parties involved.

Which helps absolutely no one.

So, from now on, I'll be sparing myself and those perfectly capable people from my “help.” Therefore, allowing them to fail, learn, grow and be strong all on their own with no assistance or interference from me. It won't be easy to witness their struggles, but we'll all be better for it.

Because sometimes help isn't helpful.

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