Healthy HELPING (Part 2)

HELPING WORKS –when we both benefit

PREVIOUS: Healthy Helping (HH) (#1)

REMINDER: See Acronym Page for abbrev.

Just because we were trained to be rescuers by our family does not mean we can’t be of service.

3. WHEN – I can help IF :
• it’s not to boost my self-esteem or sense of identity
• it’s short term, because they’re growing, learning, changing
• I can do it without being resentful or hurt yourself in some way
• I don’t have to keep my antennae up all the time – to check for what’s wrong, walk on egg shells, worry about being accused wrongly…
• I only have to do ‘so much’ & then back off & let them handle things

• I’m NOT trying to do the impossible (force-fix someone’s damage
cup overflows• I don’t take an action when being guilted or shamed by someone
• I don’t secretly n-e-e-d a return for my efforts
However, it is appropriate to get paid, get thanked, have some reciprocity
• my cup is full enough that I’m not draining myself dry
• they genuinely can’t do something for themselves, but it’s temporary

4. HOW I can Help (T.E.A.)
T: Give helpful, INFO about a request
E: Listen, & validate, with compassion & empathy
A: DO something useful AND realistic
• ASK Qs re. their problem: What do you need from me? What have you already done?  What are you planning to do?…
• be clear about what I can & cannot do, OR will & will not do

• don’t jump in, don’t assume I know what’s needed
• give emotional support, instead of solutions (head, actions)
• help someone think a problem thru – THEIR way
• set limits with self & others
• tell the emotional or intellectual truth.  Some won’t want to NEIGHBORS-TALKINGhear it & will go away, but others will value it & grow
• wait to see if they CAN do something on their own,
OR if there’s someone else who can / will help them

ALSO, it’s:
• OK to do someone a favor, sometimes  – even if they can do it themselves, if it’s on my way, not a burden, something I like to do
• OK to help someone get thru emotionally hard times – death of a loved one, work trauma, health problems….
….AS LONG AS the HELP-EE (you are the help-er) is respectful of my time & efforts, appropriately appreciative (but not overly),  & is not an emotionally bottomless pit

5. RESULTS of Healthy Helping
a. In ME –  I :
• don’t get depleted, or resentful
• don’t have to ‘hide’ from needy ‘pests’ (they learn you won’t rescue them)
• feel satisfied, pleased, ‘full’, comfortable, relaxed
• feel more connected to others, & the world
• feel good about myself, but don’t need it for my identity
b. In Them – They :
• become less dependent on me
• don’t resent or blame me for their issues
• are appreciative but not fawning
• become more independent, & inter-dependent
• begin to trust their own experiences & ideas
• gain self-esteem & feel empowered
• absorb & use my help to grow & improve, no matter how slowly

6. STOP helping
Sometimes, DOing NOTHING is the best or only option:
• it’s not the right time
• it’s not a legitimate request or possible action
• there are NO actions possible in some situations

DON’T DO anything to help, IF:
– Act the VICTIM who needs too much from you, more than you can give or more than is appropriate to ask. No matter how much you do, it will never be right or enough!
– Act the PERPETRATOR who makes you feel unsafe, because they’re a taker, user, abuse, bully….
b. YOU
• are in need at the moment, OR overextended
• just do not want to (not now, or never)
• it’s something truly, deeply not right for you to do
• are appropriately breaking a Toxic family Rule

HOWEVER, you can be ‘doing all the right things’ but if they’re still too damaged, they may be resentful :
They’ll attack you, accuse you of not caring, bad-mouth you to others, accuse you of abandoning them & of being SELFISH….
….specifically because you’re NOT willing to rescuing them!

🔹 Do not JUSTIFY your ‘NO’ – it’s a complete sentence!
Otherwise, you’ll just be complying out of guilt or from a forced sense of obligation.
✒︎ TAKE CARE of YOURSELF FIRST, & always pay attention to what your GUT is telling you – about a person or situation!

NEXT: Wounded Child #1

2 thoughts on “Healthy HELPING (Part 2)

  1. Is it ever healthy for an ACOA to help someone else? Because I’m in the middle of a family of 7 brothers and sisters — all ACOA’s — who all say Deny! Deny! Run away! too scary! I can’t! Get away! when something needs addressing. Anything. I, on the other hand, never developed that attribute – having been appointed my mother’s conservator when I was 23 and remained so until her death when I was 38. Without help or acknowledgment from any other sibling — they ran away from that, too. I have also repeatedly helped a sister (also mentally ill), and now am helping a brother (mentally ill). While the other ones hide again. I’m in therapy while doing it — knowing what a slippery slope it is! My family consistently abandons me, but I keep refusing to abandon them. Oh crap. Perhaps I abandon myself instead?


    • Yes we can be of help to others, if we know the ‘rules’. Please study my posts : ‘Rescuing – Unhealthy Helping, ‘Healthy Helping’, ‘Toxic Roles:The HERO’, Boundaries, & the recent series on Control … If you look at the POSTS ’10 & POSTS’11 pages you’ll find many topics that can help with your question.
      Loyalty is a good quality, but we always have to ask ourselves: “What is my motivation?”, “What am I being loyal to?” , “Is this loyalty or just co-dependence?”
      Thanks for your comment.


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