Helping others is a wonderful thing. It brightens someone’s day, brings them joy, makes them feel good, and answers their problem. But it’s important to know when you’re giving too much and trying harder than you should.
How We Assess Whether We Should Help Others
It’s important to assess whether you’re in a position to help at all. You should consider how much time, energy, and resources you have available for helping people.
You should also weigh whether your skills are best suited for the task at hand. If it’s a task that requires special expertise (such as fixing a car), you should make sure you’re qualified to do so before taking on the task.
We Need to Be More Honest With Ourselves About When Our Help Is Truly Useful
It’s often hard to know when to stop giving of yourself and your time. We need to be more honest with ourselves about when our help is truly useful. This may mean asking ourselves if the person is willing to help themselves, or if their needs are actually beyond what we can give them. If the latter is true, it’s time for a conversation about healthy boundaries and limits – a conversation that may have never happened before!
We’ve all been there: you have a good relationship with a friend, a family member, or a colleague who seems to appreciate your efforts, advice, and good intentions so much that it feels cruel to say “no” right now. But there comes a point when we need that person’s reality check – it could save them from making a big mistake later by taking on too much because they feel obligated to us.
Know Your Limits
When it comes to helping people, it’s important that you know your limits, as well as take care of your own mental health. After all, you have your own issues and priorities that require your attention.
When Someone Asks for Help, They’re Relying on You to Solve Their Problem in a Certain Way
If they ask for your advice or help with a project that’s too much for you to handle, you should ask yourself, “Is this person really worth my effort?” If he/she isn’t benefiting from the task (e.g., an employee who doesn’t manage well), you shouldn’t be helping people unless they show they can improve over time, and that your helping hand matters to them. It’s also okay not to be there for everyone all the time- you need some space between people sometimes!
Aside from knowing when not to help someone with their problems or projects (e.g., when they lack direction or motivation), there are other times when it’s best to walk away from them entirely instead of making an effort:
- When someone has unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished by a single action.
- When someone needs constant reassurance that everything is okay, even though things aren’t yet okay.
- When someone makes unreasonable demands, such as asking personal questions without prior permission.
How to Recognize Your Limits
When someone we love and care about is in pain, it can be difficult to know how best to help them.
Being able to recognize what your loved one is trying to tell you is critical to helping them through a difficult time. Here are some tips on how to recognize boundaries:
- Listen to your body. If your kindness makes you feel anxious, tired, or physically ill when you’re with someone, it could be a sign that something is wrong in your relationship or that there are unresolved issues between the two of you.
- Listen to your feelings. If you feel angry or resentful when you’re dealing with a toxic person, take note of that, because it could mean there’s a deeper problem causing a tense relationship between the two of you.
Your Happiness Is Just as Important as Someone Else’s Happiness, It’s Important That You’ve Compassion for Yourself as Well
- Listen to your intuition. Listen to your own feeling. Pay attention to what makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe and what makes you feel good. This is one of the best ways to find out where your boundaries are.
- Listen to your values. What’s important to you in life? What are the things that are most important to you? These could be personal values, like family or friends, or professional values like integrity, honesty, or creativity. If something doesn’t align with these values, it could be a boundary violation.
- Listen to your inner voice. If you feel uncomfortable with something, trust yourself and address it! Your gut is usually right about these things.
Respect Your Own Time
You don’t want to help if you feel rushed or overwhelmed with other obligations, because that will lead to resentment later when you realize you’ve overexerted yourself and may have hurt others’ feelings in the process.
Be specific about your availability. Set limits for yourself so you don’t feel overwhelmed by client demands.
It’s good to be a helpful person, but if it ends in resentment or causes you trouble later because you focused on doing a good deed for someone else, your resentment could cause more problems in the future, for yourself and for the person you’re trying to do right for.
Be Fair to Yourself
This isn’t selfishness or an excuse. Sometimes it’s good to give yourself the advice you’d give others. You’re only a human being and not programmed to be helpful 24/7.
If you find that you’re spending too much time being a helpful person, it’s because you’ve not taken care of yourself for a long time. Be aware of your own health and mental condition.
You need to be able to recognize when you’re being unfair and make the necessary changes.
When It’s the Right Time to Stop Offering Help
- When you’re not helping. If your help isn’t working or the person isn’t willing to accept it, then it’s time to stop helping.
- If the person isn’t willing to change. If the person isn’t willing to change their behavior or make an effort in any way, it’s time for you to separate from them as well.
- If the person isn’t willing to do something themselves and change their life to improve their situation, no one can do anything for them because they aren’t motivated enough themselves yet.
How to Say No in a Friendly Way
- Be honest.
- Be firm, but not rude.
- Don’t volunteer to do something you don’t have time to do or don’t want to do because someone else is doing it for you (e.g., “No, I can’t take on your project at work because my boss has already asked me to.”)
- It’s okay to be kind and polite, but still be clear about what you’re refusing (“I appreciate the offer, but I can’t do it now”). If he/she resists again or asks why he/she doesn’t want to, repeat the same thing until he/she stops asking (e.g., “I said no.”).
How to Determine if Someone Needs Help
- Listen to the person.
- Ask her what she’s thinking.
- Ask them what they want.
- Ask them what they need.
- Ask them what they’ve tried and whether or not it worked; if so, ask how long it’s been since it didn’t work and why (there are many reasons).
- Ask them if they’ve done anything different lately that might be contributing to their problem, or if there’s something new in their life right now that might be affecting such things (e.g., a job change or new people coming into the picture).
- Find out more about the situation by asking what’s helped or not helped so far and what interests you at this point, e.g., “What do you think will happen next?”
How to Tell When Someone Is Being Too Demanding
It’s easy to get caught up in being helpful, especially if you’re naturally generous and helpful. But before you help someone, ask yourself, “Is this person too demanding?” If so, it may be time to stop your help and let the person solve their own problems. This is how you can tell if someone is too demanding:
When a Person Keeps Coming to You With the Same Problems
If a person keeps coming to you with the same problems, whether it’s dealing with an addiction or family problems, or if they’ve any difficulties that just aren’t getting resolved, that can be very difficult to deal with. If it seems like no matter what you do for this person, things just aren’t getting better, that can be pretty frustrating and overwhelming at times. You’ve to be careful not to burn out, but also careful not to hurt her or him. Sometimes it’s good to ask the person if he or she’d like to talk to someone who’s more experience with his or her situation, or if he or she’d like to see a professional who specializes in his or her problems.
Does It Make People You Help Unable to Solve Their Own Problems in the Future?
No matter how much you want to help someone and see them succeed, there’s a point where you’re doing more harm than good by continuing to help them.
If you give someone an excuse for not being able to solve their own problems, it can lead to them not learning from their mistakes and not improving in the future. This is especially true if they become dependent on your help. That’s why it’s important that you know when it’s time to stop helping others and let them figure out what they need on their own.
Can You Help Someone Too Much?
Before you start setting healthy boundaries and letting people fail, it’s important to clarify the difference between helping and enabling. Helping means giving someone something they need to be successful. Enabling means you give someone something they don’t need, but keep them from learning how to achieve their goals on their own.
The best way to help others succeed is to equip them with the tools they need and then allow them to use those tools themselves. If you’re going through a rough patch or are frustrated by your life situation, consider what resources you can realistically provide yourself.
We shouldn’t feel guilty or wrong for saying no to people in need, especially if we can’t afford to or if it would hurt us.
Our ability and willingness to give of our time and energy is also limited by our capacity as human beings – we’re not gods who can always provide help whenever it’s needed without consequence.
There may come a point when you feel that you’re being taken advantage of by someone who’s constantly asking too much of us. If this happens frequently, they may no longer be able to manage their lives on their own, which can lead them down a very difficult path with serious consequences later on (e.g. homelessness).