Like many of us, I am a helper. If I can, I love helping people figure out how to have a tough conversation with their coworker, how to handle an issue with their kid, or how to get better at double-unders.
I remember how helpless I’ve felt in my own experiences with the same things they struggle with, so that leaves me with this overwhelming feeling like I owe it to the universe to sweep them under my wing and stick with them until things are right.
What I need to remember, however, is that not everyone actually wants the help. Sometimes they’re not ready to deal with the whole thing yet. Sometimes they’re prefer to hear my thoughts, and then handle it in their own way. And, sometimes their “issue” isn’t really an issue at all; they’d genuinely rather keep things the way they are than fix anything.
What I’m coming to terms with is this: “helping others” sometimes gets confused with “helping myself”.
Am I truly reading into what the other person wants and needs, or am I trying to force my own views and advice onto them because “I’m trying to help”?
If a friend is joking around with me about how much junk food they have in their pantry or how they know their once-a-week visit to the gym isn’t working out so hot, my instinct is to help them come up with a strategy to change: I will come help them clear out their snack shelf, take them grocery shopping to teach them how to read labels, and text them daily with workouts made specifically for them.
Some may love all of that, and some others may have just been having a good time making fun of themselves.
For that reason, I always ask myself this question: what is the best way for me to help this person? Is it to give them my email so they can reach out if they really want to, or just listen and wait to see if they ask for help.
Helping others should be about the other person, not about me.