Have you ever been dragged into a friend or family member’s problems that’s taken up so much of your time and energy that you’ve let go of what you needed to do for yourself, only to find them nowhere around after their problem has been solved?
I am famous for allowing myself to feel sorry for people and become involved deeply in their woes, problems, issues and simply trying to “be there for them”. I’ve pushed aside things that I have needed to get done in my own, personal life in order to do so and, left myself in messes because I’ve had to scramble to play catch-up afterwards and worse, these people are nowhere to be found once their problems have been dealt with and they’re in a better emotional state.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m blaming other people. It’s not their fault that I’m an empathic sponge who will drop everything to help someone else. That is my personal issue to learn to deal with, not theirs. Afterall, if you offer a banquet to a hungry person, don’t cry when they eat it all.
The problem for me is that I tend to give my heart and soul to someone who needs help and they know it. That makes me a standing target for those who have previously seen me in action and know that I will go to all lengths to help them out.
In all honesty, it’s not the fact that I’ve given my help, thought, empathy and energy. I have plenty of it to go around. The real issue is that once they are feeling better about their situations, I don’t hear from them until the next problem arises. Oftentimes, I never hear the end result or the “happy news”. I just don’t hear from them, period and end up having to chase them down to find out how they are doing. Worse than that, they appear annoyed that I’ve called or dropped by to see how they are doing. It’s almost as though it’s an invasion of their time and energy. That is the part that really sets me off.
Some people have asked whether I do these things for others because I’m expecting something in return. My answer is “no”. I do it because I can help and I feel that everyone needs help when they are down. The only thing that I expect in return is to actually hear the outcome once whatever they’re dealing with has been dealt with, as well as to hear from them from time to time when things are fine. That’s not the case. It seems that they know my address, phone number and email address when they’re in trouble but, develop amnesia when they have either resolved them or have no major issue to deal with in their lives.
So, why am I sitting here writing this when the answer is obvious? Just don’t become so heavily involved in other people’s problems.
In all actuality, I’m venting. I’m also reminding myself that it’s ok to sometimes say (especially with repeat offenders), “I hope things turn out well for you,” and leave it at that. Just because I can do something, doesn’t obligate me to do it. That’s a lesson that I have to continue trying to teach myself. It’s not that helping other people during times of trouble is a bad thing. It’s the idea that there’s times when we should get involved and other times when we should simply wish them well and leave it there. There are very few times in Life where we should become so involved that we neglect ourselves and our own needs to that extent.
In short, I have yet to learn that there’s a difference between helping someone and becoming a doormat. I’m still a doormat but, I’m working on that for it is my issue, not theirs.
If you’ve felt the same type of thing from your own personal experiences, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself if you’re a Helper or a Doormat too. There’s a distinct difference.
Helpers, help others but, they do so to a healthy level for both themselves as well as the other person. They don’t foresake their own lives and everything in it but, instead, lend a healthy level of hand, keeping a line/boundary. They don’t get so deeply involved with someone else’s problems that it becomes their “job”. They also recognize who is truly in need of help and not simply a “vampire” who will suck the life right out and not look back when they are fine and dandy. They also recognize the difference between someone who is using them and someone who is genuinely there at other times, not just the “bad”.
Doormats by comparison, are those who will give all to others’ needs, foresaking their own needs, repeating those actions with people who could care less about you unless there’s something to be had by them out of contact with you. It’s also about allowing people you know won’t come near you once their problems are solved and you’re still there, waiting for them for the next time.
Because of who I am as a person, I will always feel the need to help others but….I also need to learn that being a Helper doesn’t need to turn me into a Doormat.
As a true friend and I have discovered, there was only one Mother Teresa. I’m not her so, my Habit needs to come off because there won’t be a Sainthood bestowed upon me for all of this time and energy that I’ve been putting into others.
How about you? Which are you? Any thoughts?