Can helping become hurtful?
Helping others is a desired attribute and it feels great. Yet, sometimes it becomes too much and feels like a burden. When this happens, we lose the joy of giving. When helping turns into sacrifice, the gift is lost for everyone.
Giving from sacrifice becomes toxic because it leads to resentment. It creates feelings of guilt and owing in the person we’re helping. This is not a winning combination.
Resentment is a toxic emotion that can stay with us for years and taint our relationships. Resentment causes us to close our hearts to others and it cuts off the flow of good into our lives, causing suffering.
Too many times in my life, I’ve wanted to be the good guy and make others happy. I overburdened myself when I didn’t know how to say no. This cost me personally, as grumbling thoughts circled my mind. I’ve learned I’m not alone in this predicament.
Giving and supporting others is supposed to make us feel good, and when it doesn’t, it’s important to hit the pause button and re-evaluate. Taking personal stock of our true reasons for helping is important. Do we do it to be liked or make others happy even at our own expense? This never leads to anything positive, or the outcome we desire.
When we feel over-burdened or come from a place of sacrifice, we may put up walls, blame, or avoid those who seek our support; there is another way.
When our yeses are whole-hearted, stemming from a deep desire and ability to help and not from guilt or sacrifice, we create a win-win situation for ourselves and others.
Learning to set our own boundaries is vital for the creation of healthy relationships. Boundaries are not walls. As Mark Groves, psychologist and human connection specialist wrote: “Walls keep everyone out. Boundaries teach people where to enter.”
We’re the sole author of our own suffering when we over-extend ourselves. It is up each of us to govern and manage our time, energy, and our ability to help. It’s vital we remember that we teach others how to treat us. It’s up to us to set boundaries.
Saying yes when we whole-heartedly want to help brings goodness to everyone involved. Too often, we may agree in the moment only to regret it later. Hitting pause following a request, taking time to consider our own schedules, energy levels, and commitments is important.
We don’t have to answer requests immediately. Taking time to think about it and respond to people later is much better than feeling obligated to follow through at a personal cost.
We don’t need to explain or justify why we’re unable to help. No is truly a complete sentence.
Explaining or making excuses only weakens our resolve, often leaving us feeling guilty and lacking.
Setting boundaries helps us with self-care and is compassionate for ourselves and others.
I live a relational life and want people to enter, but it’s up to me to show them where, when, and how.
Healthy boundaries maintain what we value, including ourselves and the right to be treated well. Being mindful and aware of how we’re feeling supports us in creating healthy boundaries.
According to Brené Brown, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others. Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.