Who are you really helping?
Who are you really helping?
It’s been instilled in us that helping others can only be good for us, but at what point are we helping too much? At what point does our help become more destructive than beneficial?
Here’s a small little truth: Our help is not always helpful.
Despite our best intentions, our help can do more harm than good for both ourselves and the other person.
How do you know if your help is indeed helping or if it’s time you back off?
Benefits of helping people
Let’s not get it tangled. Helping others is not a bad thing. In fact, untold benefits arise when we help people.
Helping people allows us to feel happier and more connected to those we’re helping. It instills in us an understanding of gratitude. When we help people, we realize just how fortunate we are to be in a position to help others. It reminds us of the things we often take for granted, be it monetary, material possessions or even a piece of useful advice that had a positive effect on someone else’s life.
In my post on loneliness, I have shown how helping those that need the help can aid with the feelings of loneliness.
When we develop these social bonds by helping those less fortunate than us, it does wonders for any other illnesses or fears we have. It’s one of the best ways to fight off depression and that closeness with others, reduces our anxiety.
But, not all help is good. Let’s explore some of the dangers involved with unhealthy helping.
Dangers of helping too much
As with all things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad.
Many of us have never even considered all the harmful effects of helping others. In fact, we ignore all the negative effects because we know that by helping others, it makes us look like a good person.
Sometimes, feeling like a good person just doesn’t cut it anymore and we end up feeling miserable, even building resentments towards those we once loved helping.
Let’s discuss the dangers associated with helping people too much.
When our help makes us become reckless, it might be time to re-assess our help. It’s not unheard of that our help tests our integrity. We do things we wouldn’t ordinarily do to help others. Losing yourself whilst helping someone else, only harms you.
- Your help or giving prevents someone from growth.
There’s a fine line between helping someone and enabling them. When you help excessively, you rob that person of valuable life skills. In life, we only grow and develop based on lessons we’ve learned. A lot of what you know today is because of difficult lessons you had to learn. As a recovering addict, I learned a lot of the lessons I know today, only after I was allowed to fall and learn these lessons on my own. If I were to have someone hold my hand every time I messed up, I would never be where I am today.
It sounds harsh, but it’s true.
- Relationships take a toll
When you help someone excessively, it’s natural to build resentments towards the other person. You feel like that person has become a burden on you. You may even avoid the person completely in fear they want ‘something else.’ This relationship becomes very unhealthy and a clear lack of boundaries develop.
- Self sacrificing relationships become co-dependant
Your relationships become self-sacrificing and co-dependant. The person you’re helping no longer knows how to function on their own because they have become used to your constant help. In turn, you don’t know how to function without helping that person. When you’re no longer able to help, you feel useless or as if you no longer add any value to that person’s life.
- You ignore the negative side effects because it makes you “look like a good person.”
Even if we have started hating helping another, we still get something out of it. Recognition is one of the biggest rewards we get from helping others. Other people take note of our help and develop great admiration for us.
On the surface, this sounds like a good thing, but this also gives us a false sense of confidence.
- You constantly get ‘exploited’ because you allow it.
It’s easier to say NO the first time than to say after having said YES 50 times before that. When we don’t stand up for ourselves, people begin to take advantage of this. We may have offered our help as a once off good-hearted gesture, but it now becomes permanent.
It’s clear that helping too much work not only to our detriment, but to that of the person we’re trying to help.
The question is; when is it good to help people?
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, helping can be a fantastic thing. The point of this post is not to rob you of all the benefits you get when helping others, but rather to focus on healthy helping and to avoid helping too much.
Before you help someone next time, explore the below questions to decide whether your intentions will have a positive effect on not only the person you’re helping, but yourself.
As you grow older, you will discover you two helping hands—one is for helping yourself, the other for helping others—Audrey Hepburn
Before agreeing to help someone, ask yourself the below questions:
- Does the person really need your help?
- Are you being manipulated, in any way, to help this person?
- Does your help compliment this person, rather than replace their own efforts?
- Have you offered this person help in the past and they haven’t used the help as promised?
- Given your resources, is your help sustainable?
- Does this person appreciate your help, or has it become an expectation?
- If you agree to help, are you able to do so 100%? Do you have the resources, time and abilities to help this person?
Half-hearted attempts at helping someone can do more harm than good. One time help becomes permanent
Helping others can be beneficial, not only to that person but to yourself as well.
Be careful not to let your help do the exact opposite.
Our time is precious. Only help those that deserve the help.
Know when to help.
If people don’t care about you, they don’t deserve your help.
Know your worth. Know when you’re helping too much.