Helping others is a noble cause and more often than not, people need and want help to some extent or another but, when it becomes a habit within oneself it’s no longer about helping but, rather an outward expression of how one is feeling about themselves internally.
There’s a pay-off for chronic helpers in many ways but, there are two main reasons why people can get caught up in a vicious help cycle and it can become an addiction. For some people, helping is like needing a “fix”.
First, chronic helping can help us divert our attention away from dealing with something within either ourselves or our lives. In other words, instead of working on what ails us and our own lives, we have the excuse, “I never get around to taking care of that because I am so busy helping (fill in the blanks here). It can become an escape or an excuse or both and, that stops us from having to deal with our own issues.
Secondly, it can become a method by which we try to feel loved, wanted and, or needed by others. If we are helping others, they will like us, thank us and want us around them type thinking.
In either case above, the chronic helper is not quite as healthy or altruistic as one might believe. Even on a subconscious level, possibly totally unbeknownst to us, there’s something in it for those of us who do it.
It took a long time for me to get the idea that helping others is no guarantee of being loved, liked or wanted nor, is it truly an escape from having to fix what is going wrong within ourselves or our own lives.
I endured a lot of hurt, rejection and internal feelings of inadequacy, driving me even more towards more helping…until I realized that the source of my pain was actually coming from my chronic feeling the need to help. I wasn’t feeling good anymore about it but rather, it was bringing me more pain.
Why? That was the question I had to ask myself and I went in search of answers with a shocking set of revelations.
Helping Too Much Can Cause Rejection From Others
Contrary to popular belief, what is called “Karma” doesn’t exactly work the way that one would think or hope that it should. Doing good doesn’t alway bring good into your life.
Helping others can actually drive people away from you. Here are several different reasons how and why.
- People like what you DO for them, not necessarily, you.
- The people that you help on a regular basis will eventually get used to you doing for them and therefore, come to see your help as your “job”. At that point, your help is no longer truly appreciated but, they become complacent and expect that type of behaviour from you.
- Those you have helped often enough, will eventually show a vulnerability within themselves to you and the last person that they want around them are those who know their weaknesses. They will seek out others who aren’t aware of them being weak in any way especially, during the good times in their lives.
- Chronic helping can lead others to see you as a doormat. When you are readily and frequently ready to help them, people can come to feel that you have no life of your own so, they no longer respect your time, energy or effort. In effect, it’s like they’re doing you a favour by giving you something to do with your days, time and energy.
- Being available and giving to them on a regular basis, without return expectation or as a constant set of favours, gives the impression that you have no boundaries. If you have none, why should they respect you. People like and respect people who like and respect themselves.
- Your help can be resented because the person tends to feel constantly indebted even if only on a subconscious level and without you having indicated that you expected anything in return. No one likes feeling continually indebted to someone else.
Ways To Deal With The Need To Chronic Help
- Ask yourself what you are getting out of helping others. You’re getting something out of doing this. Is it that “feel good feeling”? If so, you might need to break that feeling down a bit further.
- Helping others makes us all feel good but, doing it on a regular or chronic basis, may be becoming a a “drug” of sorts to numb or squash what ails you and your life.
- Ask yourself what it is that is going on within yourself or your life that gives you the longing for this “drug”. Is it approval, love, companionship, being needed, wanted, or even wanting people to feel indebted to you to in order to keep their loyalty.
- Are you avoiding fixing issues within your own life and using helping others as an excuse as to why you can’t get to repairing what is wrong?
- Could you be feeling guilty that someone else is in trouble of some kind and you’re soothing your own feelings of guilt for being ok in your own life in some way?
- Are you too empathetic and over-identifying with other people?
- Once you’ve weeded through the possible causes that keep you hooked on being a Chronic Helper, you can take action towards halting your need for over-helping.
Breaking The Cycle And Why You Should
The “warm and fuzzys” that we all feel when we get “thank you’s” from others is a great feeling. We all love to feel good about ourselves, appreciated, needed and wanted. It’s part of human nature and helping others is a good thing but, only when done in moderation and for the right reasons. When we do it to garner love, attention, affection, being needed, wanted, liked or to avoid facing our own demons/quelling them, we are putting ourselves into a position to be used, abused, hurt and rejected. Here are some points to help.
- Once you have identified the reason that you feel the need to chronically help. STOP and listen to yourself and your inner voice.
- People like and respect people who like and respect themselves. We teach others how to treat us. If you’re not respecting yourself, your time or your energy, they won’t either. Put up boundaries and conditions for yourself and others. Stop yourself before you try to help and place a value upon your help for them and yourself.
- Limit the amount of time that you’re going to help and what you will do to help. Remember, their lives are NOT your responsibility (unless you’re a caregiver for a child, infirm or elderly person/pet. Even then, give yourself time for yourself and respect your own needs too).
- If you’re doing it because you want to be liked, loved, appreciated, wanted, needed, are lonely or anything along those lines, this isn’t the way to get any of that for more than a couple of times. Remember, people start loving what you can do for them, not you, after awhile. You’re working against getting those needs met by attempting to achieve it via chronic helping.
- Ask for something in return for your help if it’s more than once or twice. People respect help more when it’s being paid for in some way or another and they’ll respect you for it too.
- If you love that warm and fuzzy feeling helping gives you, volunteer! There are charities all over the world and all sorts of opportunities to help others in organized, time-limited ways where you can get that feeling but be cut off in appropriate and healthy amounts. Don’t volunteer more than what is being asked for either.
- Remember that sometimes, chronic helpers actually push their help on others..even when it’s not wanted. When someone says, “it’s ok”…trust them. It’s ok. They don’t want or need your help. Save yourself some heartache and possibly nasty feelings from others. Back off and let them do it themselves.
- WAIT to be asked for help then, ask yourself what it will cost you to help them. If it’s only once in a long while that you’re being asked and it’s not taking away from you, do it but, don’t anticipate everyone’s possible needs and offer it up on a silver platter.
- Remember that some people like being in certain predicaments and don’t want to get out of them. When you recognize that in someone, back off. Let them be where they are. They are getting something out of being there. Let them have it and figure it out for themselves.
- You’re not the only fish in the sea who can help. Realize that and recognize that everyone has lessons to learn in one way or another. Some people need to learn how to help themselves and others need to learn how to help others. Let people learn what they need to learn. You’re not a deity nor, omnipotent. Everyone needs to learn something, somehow. Even children need to fall, get burned, hurt, lost etc., to learn what NOT to do and what to do. Don’t take away their learning curves from them.
The Meddler, The Dupe And The Martyr
Lastly, think to yourself as having been labelled for helping others too much. A lot of people will look at those who are chronic helpers as either “The Meddler”, “The Dupe” or “The Martyr”.
When people help too much, they often know a lot about the person’s personal life and, when not wanted, it turns you into a meddling position in their minds. They can see you as someone who wants into their minds and lives especially, if you’re pushing your help onto them.
The Dupe is the one that people often think of as “good ole so-and-so” and often follow that with an “I’ll get her/him to do it!” That’s when you’ve become nothing more than a doormat for them. You don’t mean anything to them other than as a vehicle to get their needs met. They’ll be off with other friends or family for lunch, dinner and shows who have done little, if anything for them while you’re left scratching your head, wondering why. You’ve been “duped”.
The Martyr is the person who does so much for everyone else that others are reminded (whether you do it or not) that they’ve done a lot for that person or many. Guilt sets in that they’ve allowed you to do it all for them and suddenly, they’re feeling inferior or as though you’re superior to them. No one likes to be around people who make them feel that way whether intentionally or through their own inner thoughts and feelings. You’re out of any of the good times or any lasting, healthy, fun and good relationship with them if you continue on with it.
Learn to love yourself. Help yourself first. Put your own oxygen mask on first. To thine own self be true. Charity begins at home. Old but, wise pieces of advice to take. Take care of you first and others will follow suit with you.
I’m not a trained professional of any kind so, this is just how I’m seeing things from my little corner of life through experience and learning.