Before you can help someone, you must know how they need to be helped.
A few years ago I realized about myself that I am a “rescuer.” In my friendships and familial interactions predominantly, I have found myself when seeing someone in need racing toward them to provide aid even if it meant not considering my own needs.
It is difficult for me to see people that I love in disarray or hurting, and it is even more difficult for me if I cannot help. There is this natural inclination within me to help. I feel it is a large reason that I went to nursing school, and am inclined toward being a therapist. I am drawn to serving my community and the people around me.
I have always thrived on the feeling it gave me, to know and understand that me going out of my way, even minimally, makes a difference in someone else’s life—and that to me is contentment. I really feel that ‘giving is the new getting.’
So in this need to help others and feeling a need to express energy in that direction, I feel like I fell short in a couple of areas: knowing when to help, and knowing what kind of help to give.
Knowing when and when not to help is a key factor. Sometimes I had found myself offering assistance to people in the wrong time, giving too much and smothering the recipient. Getting the feedback that I was smothering was difficult for me, because it was never my intention to create a negative charge. This is easy to do when you are helping someone, but not really understanding the dynamic around the situation. Interestingly enough, the act of helping out another seems selfless, but there have been times in my life where I have helped others for a personal benefit.
I also slipped into a trap of not knowing how to help; more specifically, I found myself helping others in ways that I would want to be helped. It is a beautiful thing to be able to accurately examine who you are helping and their inner dynamic. I have discovered that everyone receives help differently and prefers a unique blend of assistance.
A couple of years ago, myself and a business colleague of mine were having a conversation about this very topic, and she gave simple but great advice: before you speak or act, examine your audience. What has shifted is not the desire or instinctual need to help someone, but a keen awareness of my audience before I act. This small awareness created huge shifts for me.
To me, that kind of person is the real rescuer—someone who is there in a time of need, someone who can see when it is appropriate to give help, and someone who can gage what kind of aid to offer. These components make it real.
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Ed: Sara Crolick