When Helping is Destructive
October 29, 2014
“The worst thing you can do for those you love is the things they could and should do themselves.” Abraham Lincoln
When someone we love struggles, we want to help. Helping is our most basic instinct because from an evolutionary standpoint we understand that in order for the group to survive, the individual must thrive. At some point in each of our lives there comes a time when we need assistance. But what exactly is beneficial help and how can we discern when we’re giving it?
Here are 3 examples of beneficial help:
*Beneficial help does not foster dependence: Making someone feel as if they can’t do what they need to do and we must do it for them, fosters unhealthy dependence and ultimately impedes growth. As the old saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It is important to make sure your help is actually empowering those you love to be self-sufficient and to trust in their own abilities.
*Beneficial help knows when to say no: Sometimes saying NO is the most helpful thing you can do for another. Offering to help when it only enables one to continue in unhealthy patterns is ultimately destructive. Refusing to enable another is the best form of help we can give, even if the one we refuse does not understand we are saying no out of love.
*Beneficial help does not come from a place of guilt: If we feel guilt to help another, we aren’t doing them any favors – especially when the person we are trying to help is the one laying on the blame: “if you really loved me, you would do this for me.” If you constantly need to prove your love by what you do for another, you are not helping them, you are delaying their understanding of their own value by agreeing to their idea of conditional love.
It’s easy to feel overly responsible for helping others, but it is important to understand that often in our attempts to help, we make things worse. Sometimes in order for people to truly learn the lessons they are meant to learn, it is crucial they fall. If we are constantly rescued out of our problems and circumstances, we never get to see what we’re truly made of.
Written by Amanda Flaker