Sadly, the people who are the most giving are often the least appreciated. In fact, the “compulsively helpful” are usually worse than unappreciated – they can be resented and taken for granted! Frequently, they’re also disrespected and not valued despite their seemingly selfless contributions of energy and time. How do you know if you fit this bill?
Here are some telltale signs you suffer from being too helpful:
1. Has anyone recently said to you: “Oh, stop it. I can take care of this myself?” or “You’re spoiling him?” or “You’re teaching them to be helpless?” or “It’s their life, let them make their own mistakes?”
2. Do you sometimes seethe with anger when your friends or loved ones don’t do what you think they should, after all you’ve done for them?
3. Do you pride yourself on having the strength to keep giving and giving?
4. Would you ever describe yourself as compulsively giving?
5. Do you sometimes think you know better than your loved ones what’s good for them?
If you’ve answered “yes” to even one of the above questions, you’ve got a problem. Worse, it’s a problem that pretty much guarantees you won’t be treated well by others.
Because deep down you may be using “giving” as a way of not dealing with your own life or your own dreams. Also, it can be a way of disguising from yourself your desire to control and interfere with others. You may believe you’re just being helpful when you’re perceived as having unacknowledged motives. This explains why sometimes you get betrayed after having given to others for quite awhile. In a passive-aggressive way others may be showing you that your giving may not be nearly as selfless as you imagine.
Recognize that you get a lift from giving; in fact, it may be a quiet power-grab on your part. Imagine for a moment, having a date with someone who not only opens the door and pulls out your chair for you, but also hands you your napkin, orders for you, and reaches over to wipe your mouth while you eat. You’d be furious. You’d feel insulted at how you were being treated, because no one likes being treated like an incompetent or as a child. Yet, your own giving may actually be a means of being “one-up” on others, making you feel needed and useful, while making others feel undermined, or insulted and eventually resentful.
When you start to feel that growing urge to jump right in and help, resist the impulse. Take yourself physically away from the phone, computer or office, or wherever you’re about to spring into action. Interrupt the cycle, go for a walk, get a cup of coffee, go to the supply closet and straighten it