Not all Help is Helpful

Most of the people I know want to be helpful to others — at home, at work, in the community. I think most intelligent people have a natural inclination to help others, regardless of their own resources or needs. The instinct rarely is about things; it's usually about caring.

The question, "To Help or Not to Help" comes up a lot in my work with clients.  It also comes into conversations with friends. It might just pop into my mind, or I might articulate it. Often the most relevant question is, how do I help?


Growing up with Help

Years ago a friend of mine told me that when she was growing up, her father gave her money whenever she asked for it. A little here and a little there. She had no allowance that she had to learn to manage, instead, she asked Daddy. To this day, she doesn't know how to manage money, nor do her children, and they live much of the time in poverty consciousness.

Recently a client was telling me about problems with his son, who is an intelligent man, now in his 30's. This son, like my friend, learned early to go to Daddy whenever he had a financial need. My client was expressing disappointment in himself (NOT his son) for the situation because he felt that he had weakened his son.

It's not my role to pass judgment. I observe. I encourage greater awareness. I don't know all the answers, but I love to ask empowering questions to prompt deeper thinking.

Joy in Giving Help

I know, for sure, that not all actions that are considered "help" or "helpful" really are. Usually when you help someone you are saying, in effect, "I'm helping you with this because I believe you cannot do this for yourself." That may be in your heart or consciousness; or not. You may be correct, or not.

If a young child is learning to ride a bicycle, help is appropriate. But at later ages, if you are still holding the bike for an able-bodied teenager or adult, something is amiss with the picture.

It is a joy when a young child learns something and exclaims, "Wow, I did it all by myself!" To repeatedly take this thrill from a child can have consequences when the child is no longer a child.

There are so many sides to the helping equation. To not ask for help when you need it can be debilitating — or it can tap a depth inside yourself that you might not have known otherwise.

To refuse to help when asked can leave either or both parties feeling empowered — or it can leave either or both feeling disempowered. It depends. It depends on a lot of variables.

No matter the circumstances or what side of the equation you are on, the key to understanding is in your feelings. Helping someone can feel exceedingly satisfying. To be helped can feel exceedingly satisfying.


How Do You Feel?

The answer to the following question provides the most compelling piece of the puzzle: "How do I feel?"

If you feel good, do it. If you feel not-good, do not do it. If you feel good and then you don't feel good as time passes, you'll have another time to check your feelings and your actions.

Keep asking, "How do I feel?" Listen for your answer, and you will know when help is helpful.


Helping (or not helping) is a process, not a single, isolated event.

Copyright © 2019 Marshall House and Voice of Jeanie Marshall. All rights reserved. Jeanie Marshall is a Personal Development Consultant and Coach. This article is not available for republication without express written permission.

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Voice of Jeanie Marshall

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