Kick the Chronic Helping Habit
We’ve all been there: we have that one friendship or relationship that seems to constantly revolve around us trying to “save” the other person. Maybe you’re trying to get them on their feet, or off drugs, or more spiritually aware. Maybe you’re in a relationship with somebody who keeps acting like an idiot, self-destructive or even abusive towards you—and you keep telling yourself that maybe if you just show that person enough love, they’ll change, and see the light and hope, and have you to thank for it all. Day in, day out, you soon find your time and energy becoming more and more consumed with trying to carry that person, trying to keep their head above water, or with dragging them to where you think they should be. And the more you do this, the less time and energy you have for yourself.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
They’re that way because they’re choosing it.
Yes, their life might have been hard. Yes, their options may have been limited. But at the end of the day, life is just a series of choices and decisions. Sometimes those decisions might be hard, or unclear, or we might not even see them clearly. But we always have a choice.
I’m going to let you in on another little secret:
You can’t make other people’s choices for them.
You can absolutely never, ever, ever in a billion years make somebody else’s choices for them. You might as well be trying to bite through a diamond. You can encourage, you can goad, you can push, you can even manipulate, but at the end of the day, it’s impossible to override the free will of another being. And the more you try, the more damage you do to yourself. You wear yourself out. You lose sight of your own goals. You may even start burning your health.
That’s because you can’t make somebody else’s choices for them. And if they’re choosing to suffer, and you try to override that choice, you’re going to suffer right along with them until you, or they, get tired of the game. Which could be a very, very long time.
Because you know what the hard truth is? Most people don’t want help. They definitely don’t want advice. And the last thing they’d ever, EVER want to do is change. Because that would require honest self-examination, and it would require work. No: What people are usually asking for when they complain, moan and cry about how bad their lives are is company. They want somebody to suffer right alongside them: because that proves that they really are a victim, that the world really is a bad place, and that they don’t have to try, change or make new decisions. They’re sitting pretty in hell. They’ve set up residence. They’ve stretched out—and now, thanks to you, they’ve got company on the sofa. Why mess up a good thing?
So, my friends, what’s one to do? Should you coldly turn your back on the suffering of others and go about your merry way, driving down the freeway of life in your giant SUV of “who-cares-not-me,” ignoring all the homeless suffering bums on the side of the road?
Well, that’s a tough one. Basically, I’ve got a few answers to that:
1. Stake your life on following your own highest good. Positivity and greatness will come out of that, and your natural happiness will be infectious to those around you. And you may end up bringing something far better to the world than just dragging one or two stubborn oxes.
2. Create a supportive and positive environment around yourself for those near you. Just never, ever try and force somebody to be there. If they want to show up to hang out in your positivity zone, great. If they don’t, that’s fine too. Let them make the choice. And never try and stop somebody from leaving, either, or they’re liable to just drag you with them into their world instead. As Blythe ext. 5339 says, “Keep your partner happy by being happy yourself.”
I hope that helps—it’s a tricky issue we all must face in our lives in one way or another. But we truly do live in an infinite, loving universe, one which honors and supports the free will and choices of all its inhabitants—even if they’re choices you don’t like.
“People we attract into our life are reflections of who we are, therefore become first what it is you want to attract.” – Rivers ext. 5273
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5 thoughts on “Quit Trying to Save People!”
Oh boy! It seems I’ve become one of these ‘miserable’ people you talk of. For the past 20 years I just seem to get bombarded by ‘bad’ things. I know, we all decide to be ‘here’ – I’ve heard that from Deepak, Dyer and multitudes of others… I’ve been over and over this in my head – I must’ve decided ‘this’ – how? All I’ve ever wanted was to be in peace and when my son came along 20 years ago, that’s all I ever wanted for him. I’ve given up so much opportunity along the way to ‘ensure his peace’ but he grew up to be an angry, disrespectful… young man. We’re estranged now, my husband has been dead for 12 1/2 years and my son destroyed any relationships I had with my own family (my son is extremely good at lying and deception!). I was forced out of my home (my health declined and my son took FULL advantage of this) and came to live with ‘friends’ who promised to ‘help’ me. These ‘friends’ had their own intentions – helping me was not one of them. I’ve been here for over 3 years now and I’ve tried meditation, yoga, self-help books, hiking, good, organic food, physical therapy, (mental) therapies, aromatherapy, supplements…. I beat myself up on a daily basis trying to figure out how “I’m deciding to be here – like this”. I have no money and my health isn’t something I can count on to commit to a ‘job’. (I’ve been diagnosed with Adult Stills Disease and there are mornings when the pain is SO bad I can’t get out of bed!) I’ve always been a very independent, physically fit, optimistic person – I am now a shadow of that self. I’ve cried so much for so long now – times when I was SO empty inside! I resent these people too for their deception and my struggle to remain hopeful around them. I’ve isolated myself except for my loving, compassionate 11 1/2 year old golden retriever, Bisquit. He is by my side for the good and bad and is my only reminder of what love is. I would NEVER wish this ’emptiness’ on ANYone and certainly don’t want company ‘down here’. I definately don’t want someone else to do my work for me or hand me anything. Years ago I would’ve read your article and said “hmph, another lazy, miserable person blaming everyone else and sucking the life out of others”…. And I’ve been around people like that who’ve never tried a thing to help themselves yet they complain. I’d be willing to try anything (except drugs or leaving Bisquit). My beliefs stop me from ‘ending things’ but I sure do look forward to the end! I find solace in Eat Pray Love and watch it whenever it comes on – not for the ‘Phillipe’ outcome but just to feel a sliver of that peace and happiness. Soul searching is not something I retract in fear of – I question myself constantly! Ruin IS the road to transformation – yes, I’ve seen that; but can I transform ‘ashes’? Please – there are people out there that are miserable but they don’t want to drag others down (this hurts even more) but they need to talk this sludge through and maybe gain some insight on how to acquire a one way ticket out of hell. I’ve never written like this on-line (I use my cell phone maybe once/twice a week….)and…actually, don’t even talk to another person anymore. I don’t want to drag anyone else down (I hide in my room) or even have anyone see me like this. I dread putting ‘bad karma’ out there and constantly pray for peace – for everyone. Just please know, not all sad people want company. Not all sad people want to be here – they just keep looking for a door or window and can’t seem to find any.
I totally agree! I am a person who is trying to help my friends. Just because I love them and don’t like them see unhappy. But over and over again they did the same and I was suffering. I stopt doing was I tought I should do as a friend and I felt more happy then the time I was “helping”.
Amen, my man! I could have written that article, word for word, ha!
Hi Krishna-Excellent. No matter how nice we are, it amazes me how much better we feel, when stop doing this-…This tends to drain people…In my observation-Also, being someone, that used to do this, especially when I was in college, 20 years ago…
You nailed some great points…Thanks, Miss Krystal
5 star article……wonderful advice.