I like to help people. It’s something I value.
But I recently made the shocking realisation that helping was something I didn’t do for love. I did it to manipulate people.
Now, I want to be very clear. I didn’t manipulate to be unkind, or mean.
I always did it with what I THOUGHT were the best intentions.
But it turns out there was something else going on….
This is my story of how I realised I was manipulating people.
In the middle of a session with a mentor. We were discussing my work, and out of nowhere, she asked me a question about my work that I was totally not expecting.
“When you help people…. is it okay with you if they aren’t helped?”
I explored the answer to her question.
And my honest answer was no.
And what I saw was that I was not wanting to help, as much as I was helping in order to be validated by the person I was helping.
I was helping because I believed it meant something about me.
Here I was thinking I was being virtuous, but what I was actually doing was giving them a job called being helped.
If they didn’t take on the help, change, grow, whatever, then I would feel irritated, invalidated and frustrated, and kind of secretly vengeful – like “Fine, if you want to keep failing, that’s your choice”.
Because I thought it meant something about me.
If they took my advice, help, etc, and succeeded, I thought their SUCCESS meant something about me.
If they didn’t take my advice, or help and they failed, I thought their FAILURE meant something about me
I had my IDENTITY attached to both the helping AND the OUTCOME of the helping.
I though helping made me a GOOD person. And I wanted to be a GOOD person.
So helping just MADE SENSE.
But it was ALL idealism and conceptual framing, and therefore obligation-driven, both for me AND in me obligating people to be helped.
So I took some time off from helping.
I want to live a values-driven life so I had to REALLY look at it, and at whether I actually truly value helping.
And it turns out that actually I do.
But here’s what I get now…
I NOW realise that helping is something SEPARATE from my identity.
I realise that it doesn’t MEAN anything about me.
I realise that whether I help them or not, people are free to be helped, or not.
If I think that they HAVE to accept and use my help and that they then OWE it to me to be helped to validate me, that’s not aligned AT ALL with my value of freedom.
And I truly value their freedom.
Whether they use the help or not, is in reality not anything to do with me.
It’s none of my business actually.
What about you?
If this post resonates with you, and you realise that you help people because you are after validation or approval, there are a couple of things you might like to note…
Firstly, you are free to keep on doing that.
Secondly, that the only reason you’d do that was if you didn’t value their freedom.
Thirdly, know that what they choose is nothing about you. It’s about their own underlying structure.
On your side of the fence, when people ignore your advice, in the future, you’ll continue to be disappointed and invalidated when they ignore your advice.
Whether they follow your advice, and whether they succeed or fail or continue to struggle, it doesn’t mean anything about you or your help or advice or friendship.
Big love to you and your freedom to help, their freedom to be helped or not + to you valuing their freedom either way.