If you’ve been helping someone figure out their personal challenges without much progress, perhaps it’s time to step aside so they can fix it their way. Sometimes the more you try to help, the less you actually do, because giving constant support diminishes their capabilities of finding solutions that actually work for them. 

Besides that, there could be other reasons why your help isn’t really helping.

  1. Your advice isn’t as good as you think it is.
  2. Your advice is great but they are not ready to receive it.
  3. They try to implement it but it doesn’t work because they are not doing it in their way.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need support when in distress, but there’s a thin line between helping and overprotecting. 

The Problem with Helping 

Sadly, helping too much is a trait that grows over time and soon you’re the go to for assistance. People begin to feel calm, safe and cared for around you and in turn you feel needed, loved and admired for your strength and capacity to give. It’s a beneficial interaction till it becomes toxic. 

The problem surfaces when without your input, nothing can be solved. By always being there, you’ve taken away someone else’s space to figure things out on their own. So when you feel a deep need to see your rewarding efforts in the lives of others, consider you may be crippling them. 

Your presence means the other person doesn’t build internal tools to overcome their challenge. Instead it breeds inaction as they never seem to figure out why things are the way they are. When a person stays in this comfort zone, they don’t get a clear picture of what needs to be fixed. They can’t see it because the view is blocked by outside help.

Turn the tables

Ask yourself why you feel the need to always provide solutions. Perhaps you’ve always taken on the role of the helper and as such have gotten used to being needed. But consider that always being there leads to a false picture of the problem, your picture. 

Imagine someone always telling you what to do right and how to handle your stuff. Oftentimes, proposed solutions are based on their world view, beliefs and perceptions. Moreover, if a person is admired for how they overcome challenges, it’s easy to want their help or to emulate them in some way. Remember though, you are an entirely different being with beliefs and perceptions of your own.

What makes it impossible to view things in the same way are our temperaments, personalities, character traits and the relationships and stories we build around our predicaments. Granted there are communal traits shared because of culture, upbringing and having things in common, but each person must build their own complete life kit. That means facing problems on their terms, stumbling through till they conquer. 

Not all problems are repairable though. That is also a realization to be made by the one in the situation. In intimate relationships for instance, it’s common to want to fix your partners problems. Experience teaches us to stop that habit though, offer suggestions and let your partner choose.

Parents too try very hard to teach, discipline and advise. Letting go and allowing the child room to implement those things is what needed for them to grow into a solution oriented individual. Children especially need to build confidence in their ability to problem solve. They also need to learn to go through and accept failure. 

Help others to help themselves

Without interference, everyone can discern their internal compass and voice. Of course they have to want to do it, otherwise they’ll transfer their need for you to someone else. Have a conversation to open space for them. Take a step back to wean yourself of the help you’ve been giving. 

Don’t ghost them. Communicate and let them know at this point they know what to do. Encourage them to trust themselves and go for it even if they stumble. Changing habits isn’t easy and there’s a likelihood of retuning for help, so if you can’t let go completely then be a supportive ear.  As an alternative, begin ask more questions to spark critical thinking. 

Respect their journey as you want yours to be respected. The more you let go, the more time you get for your own unfolding. Walk parallel paths together, alternating between helping one another. Relationships are best when they are reciprocal. When attention is one sided eventually fatigue and resentment set in. By enabling autonomy of life, two people get the best of each other.

Everyone is a leader but in their own lives. Everyone finds their feet in their own time. Respect, love, care for and let them know you are there when they need you.

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