Three Ways to Avoid Too-Much-Helping Syndrome

It took seven years…at least to my face…before I annoyed a dear loved one so badly she had to leave the room. This is a testament to her, not to mefingers, believe me. It is my special gift to aggravate everyone I come in contact with, some sooner than later. I don’t mean to. Really. It’s not even that I’m right, my way or the highway, or obscene body odor. Well, not usually the odor. This person has put up with spiders in my house, and even eating food with my hair in it. So what did I do this time? I offered to help one too many times.

I know what it’s like to be made to feel as though you either can’t take of a situation or are doing a lousy job. But offering to help is such a teetering line to walk—either you make someone mad by causing the person to feel as though they need help, or you make someone mad when you don’t help and they would like it but have a hard time asking.

Here are three things I plan to do to work on problem.

1. Be a better observer. What’s happening right now or imminently? Am I needed in case of real danger or would an offer of help only make me feel useful?

2. Not put myself in the other person’s place. Yeah, lower your eyebrows already. I just got done telling you I’m annoying. If the only reason I want to get in someone else’s space is to prove I can do whatever that person is doing just as well, or remind him or her I’ve already been there, and let me save you a load of pain, well that’s not helping at all, is it? Experience changes us, and that’s how we all learn throughout our lives. What I went through isn’t what’s happening now. If I remove that opportunity to learn, I remove dignity, as well as my opportunity to learn.

3. Lessen my tendency toward sarcasm. (see above) This makes it hard for people to believe me when I genuinely want to make their lives easier, not when they think I don’t mean what I say or do or maybe just grandstanding.

We are all the sum of what we’ve grown up with, and if we don’t adapt and grow we lose out on a chance to experience love in new ways. It’s hard to examine our motives and realize that something we think we’re doing right isn’t the best for everyone around. Sometimes we have to receive to allow another to be blessed. Sometimes we have to wait to be asked for help before we should offer.

Unless blood is about to be spilled. Then go for it.


Lisa Lickel About Lisa Lickel

Lisa Lickel enjoys the Wisconsin good life, where she ponders and writes. The author of inspirational novels, she is also the editor of Creative Wisconsin Magazine for the Wisconsin Writers Association.

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