Helping Out

15 Nov

Sometimes those near us, those we care about or love, or friends in our circle ask for our help. Most of us want to be helpful and do what we can when asked. If we consistently offer our help we can learn a lot and build our relationships. But sometimes our helpful nature can backfire when someone abuses our kindness. If someone we know makes a habit of asking for our assistance, not only in areas where real help is needed, but when they want us to cover their personal responsibilities, it can become difficult. We may find ourselves in a situation where instead of helping them we end up enabling them to sidestep their responsibilities and push them off on us. When that happens, we may be helping now but in the end if we do things they need to do for themselves, they lose the opportunity to grow and may become dependent on us. If we let others do our work for us, even when we’re capable of doing it ourselves, we miss out on the chance to grow and learn.

Habits are funny things. They form sometimes without us being aware. We do something once, then we do it again, and again, and before we realize it we may do it on a regular basis without noticing. For instance, if we have a neighbor close by and we stop to chat, we may offer to help with a project they are working on. Another day if we see them we may offer to help again. Soon every time we talk to them they may have tasks prepared for us ready to hand off. And if that continues, our helpful nature may become a burden for us and a crutch for them. It’s good to help others but when our help turns into expectation we may feel encumbered and obligated to do more than we should. We can recognize when our offer to help becomes a hindrance and we can change things so we aren’t just doing tasks but instead helping others figure out what they can do themselves. We can politely offer to help them accomplish any task they want to assign to us. We can do it together and enable them to be confident enough to accomplish it.

There is an old saying that many hands make light work. If we all work together whatever we are trying to accomplish generally goes more easily. It’s easier to lift something heavy as a group than it is alone. Helping one another allows us to serve and learn how to give. It’s noble to offer our assistance and we gain as much in the process as those we’re aiding. We can help in ways that allow everyone to learn and don’t undermine personal growth. We can find the limits between truly helping and enabling. The world needs those willing to serve and serve well. We have so much to give and with careful consideration can make sure out gift of service does as much good as possible.

Today if you’ve been helping someone and see that things have changed and you are doing too much, take a step back. Continue to offer your assistance but allow them to work alongside you and support them as they find their confidence. Show the way to success and let them take the lead. Help them find the road on their own. You are noble and kind to help and others will learn so much from your guidance.

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