This is one of the latest blogs I wrote for Modbod. I thought it pertained to empaths so I wanted to share it here as well:
When Helping is Destructive
“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. From an evolutionary standpoint, helping is our most basic instinct because 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 anyone feel they need us 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 our help actually empowers those we 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 we 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 that we say 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 try to help is the one laying on the blame: “if you really loved me, you would do this for me.” If we constantly need to prove our love by what we do for another, it’s not help, it’s 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.
3 thoughts on “When Helping is Destructive”
Nice explanation, thanks.
This really helped me! I’ve been in unhealthy relationships my whole life. It feels like my current one is the worst. It’s the least physically abusive but most mental. He uses the whole – if you loved me you would ALL THE TIME. I’m trying to find out what part I play in the whole thing but it’s hard when someone tells you over and over again that you are the problem. I can’t seem to dig out even when I have the chance. I won’t quit though. I’m a fighter and I’m not surrendering. I will find myself. Thank you so much for this post. I needed it.
I’m so glad this post helped. Gaining our sense of self/power back is crucial when it comes to abusive relationships. I’m proud of you for standing your ground!