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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

For all the saviours out there

Are you the kind of person who offers their help abundantly, who will go out of their way to oblige and even feel it is their duty to help others no matter what? If this heavily rings the bell, read on...

For all the saviours out there !

I was brought up with that very philosophy. My mother is literally at the service of others, yet she would also often complain how it was always her that "had" to do this or that etc... When I did my coaching training, I had a revelation with a simple question one of the teachers asked us.

She began: "Most of you are probably good listeners and you probably help people around you on a regular basis. I have one question for you: Did they asked for it?”

I was gob-smacked and I thought: "Hang on a minute, do you mean, I don't HAVE to help if I'm not asked?" This was genius! A whole new way of being opened up to me right there and then. For 35 years I was convinced that if I was able to help, then I must. I was duty-bound. But as our teacher rightly pointed out, many people are not ready to be helped or maybe just don't want any assistance. Plus "helping" someone by resolving their issue does not really give them the autonomy to help themselves.

In fact, by constantly helping, we are not necessarily doing yourselves or others any favours. On the one hand, we make others dependent, since they count on us rather than themselves - A bit like the saying about giving a man a fish or giving him the rod to catch it with. And on the other hand, we too are dependent on them, as we tend to value ourselves based on the help we give and how essential it is. But who is this help really essential to, them or us?

In addition, unwanted help can be extremely intrusive and annoying for someone who has not asked for it. Is there anything more irritating than someone asking how you are doing, who insists when you don't say much, and who gives you advice and tries to help you anyway, even though you don’t feel like sharing and haven’t asked for anything? Beside we might not understand exactly what would actually help them, we might think we know (because we have so much experience!), but do we really? Solutions are seldom universal.

Being helpful is a lovely quality, and most probably welcomed when sought after, but if carried out consistently, or out of obligation or taken to the extreme, it can lead both the helper and the helpee to frustration or resentment. Helping is often considered righteous. But is it, if it's imposed?

So to all the saviours out there: Instead of giving your help at all times, because "you must" or because it's "the right thing to do", let people know it is up for grabs should they want it, and if not, enjoy the freedom of not having to help. By doing so you might have actually helped yourself instead! ;-)

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