It’s only natural to want to help those in need. But not all help is helpful. In fact, misdirected help can push people away or otherwise rob them of their freedom to truly thrive.

For instance, there are many moments as a child is growing up when he actively resists all outside help and wants to do things on his own.

At the same time, there are many other moments in which he enjoys being coddled and will let his parents do things for him even though he’s capable of doing so himself.

And similar dynamics often play out in our adult relationships.

On the one hand, we’re left confused why all our help seems unwanted. We only want what’s best for the other, but the more we try the more they run away.

And on the other hand, we might start to resent the other for their constant neediness. It seems like they always want more no matter how much we’ve already given.

In both cases, we must consider if our help is actually helpful.

If someone is resisting our help it might suggest they’re more capable than we’ve given them credit for. And forcing our help, however well meaning, often feels patronizing and leads to resentment.

Support and encouragement with plenty of breathing room is likely a better approach here.

And if someone is constantly looking to us for help when he’s capable of helping himself, it might suggest he’s not giving himself enough credit. And help here might lead to increased laziness and ultimately a failure to thrive.

Getting out of the way and allowing for struggle might be the best approach.

In the end, all help is not created equal.

Regularly step back and consider if the help you’re offering is truly helpful.

Photo by Anton Chernyavskiy on Unsplash

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