How to Actually Help

Most people are deep down genuinely good human beings, who at the very least want to be there to help their loved ones when they’re most in need. Done in the right manner this is a noble effort and something that is helpful in maintaining healthy relationships. The problem is many of you aren’t helping in a way that’s well received. Here are several mistakes people make in “helping” others and what to do instead:

Don’t Act as Martyr

A martyr is someone who always puts others’ needs ahead of their own. In doing so they often become exhausted and bitter that no one does the same for them in return. This leads to helping others begrudgingly, which makes things worse for those you’re trying to help. Even if you help them with their specific problem they know you didn’t really, truly want to and they’re left with a bad taste in their mouths.

Do Help Yourself First

If you can’t handle your own life you certainly can’t handle anyone else’s life. So take care of yourself. This isn’t selfish. Only when you are fulfilled do you then have the love and energy necessary to give to others. So practice that self-care and say no when your tank is empty. People will appreciate the yes far more when you’re relaxed and happy to do it. 

Don’t Go in Blindly

Many times you don’t know why you’re helping someone. Sometimes it’s simply something you’ve always done. Or have been told you should do it. Or they asked so you said yes without really knowing or thinking about what we agreed to or if we’re capable of helping. Or the pain you feel as a result of their pain is too much to bear and you’d rather handle their pain rather than your own. The list is endless.

Do Be Aware of Intentions

We have many reasons for helping others. Total altruism. Increasing our self-worth. Looking good in others’ eyes. We have nothing better to do. Avoiding our own stuff. It’s important to be aware of why we’re helping someone else. If it isn’t for the purest of intentions it will often lead to negative feelings for both the giver and receiver. It can even damage relationships completely. One good test for this is if you find yourself feeling disappointed if your help goes unacknowledged or isn’t accepted then you might not be aware of what your true intentions are.

Don’t Offer Unsolicited Help or Advice

Sometimes people don’t want it. In fact when it’s unsolicited most of the time people don’t want it. Even when you’re absolutely convinced that you know better, you may not. Even if you really do know better perhaps that person needs to take their own path and learn things their way. You are a completely different person with different experiences, beliefs, and preferences. Sure you’ve been in the exact same situation and handled it well. But you handled it well for yourself. Others may need something different even if the situation seems exactly the same. Also unsolicited help or advice is often misunderstood by the other person as it being that you don’t think they can handle things themselves. And what makes you the knower of all for anyone else other than yourself?

Do Wait and Help When Asked

People will ask for help if they really need it. Even if you see them seriously struggling perhaps they need or even want that struggle. Of course, there are always exceptions. If you see someone in immediate danger (such as an elderly person with a walker and grocery bags crossing the street as the light is about to turn green) then assisting them without asking would be warranted.  Otherwise people are usually more open to receiving your help and advice when they have initiated it. They will also more fully appreciate what you’ve done for them and this in turn will make everyone feel better in the end.

It can be really, really, really difficult to watch others struggle or be in pain. Of course we don’t want anyone to hurt. Also, being of service to our fellow comrades in this here universe is very important. However, it’s imperative that we’re mindful of how we’re helping and if we’re helping. Otherwise we aren’t actually helping and everyone feels crappy, which is the opposite of what we’re trying to do.