How to Stop Hurting Yourself When Helping Others

Many of us face the daily challenges of a demanding work environment.   It is vital that you have in place a way to recharge your battery and find peace, focus, comfort, and rest. Creating an at-work sanctuary is one way to take command of the environment you want to have and not just suffer in the one that arose around you.

When the 10,000 monkeys jump on your back, it can be hard to believe that peace or focus is anywhere in sight. 

To create a reality of calm, you first have to believe in one.

When you possess a natural helping spirit, you give to others in the most supportive way as part of who you are.  And your intent is always to be of true and genuine help.

But, unfortunately, the best intentions can land differently than expected.  And you not only can connect poorly with another but also give so much that you hurt yourself.

Examine who you are as a helper.  Acknowledge both your gifts and your challenges.  And become an even better helper to yourself and everyone else in the process.

Why Helping Your Calling

Not everyone has the helping spirit.  Even the nicest individuals may be focused on other deeds than helping others.  Or, more often, nice people do not realize how much they help others and do not call themselves helpers.

But some of us gain a genuine joy in helping and supporting. 

To provide a helping hand to a person and animal or even the environment when needed sparks an indescribable joy and energy that lights you up.

It does not matter if you get a thank you or if anyone knows that you helped at all.  You know and that is all that matters. 

Your knowing is enough to gain new energy and that feel-good feeling of being of service.

Charitable givers, volunteers, mentors, teachers, donators….the list of titles is lengthy and so are all the good works that come from those that help. 

You are called to perform these actions because you feel a sense of purpose in sharing your gifts with others. 

The calling, or knowing, is that you are supposed to provide what you have to others in order to positively impact another’s well-being. 

And your calling is confirmed in the positivity you gain in the process. 

Helping others is an absolute and unquestioned mission for you.  

What Helping Excellence Looks Like

Whether you are in a helping profession or you are simply a helpful person, you innately strive for excellence in your brand of giving.

Helping excellence takes many forms but starts with the unique ability to combine being introspective, extrospective, and compassionately empathetic. 

When you are introspective you not only know yourself but acknowledge your skills, abilities, or assets of value.  You honor yourself in knowing that you have worth that is worth sharing.

To be extrospective is to demonstrate that you are attentive to absorbing the world around you.  You pay attention to your surroundings and even look beyond your immediate view to understand the context of life and your place in it.

But the key that binds is your compassionate empathy.  This is where all your gifts truly synchronize.

You see your gifts of worth, interpret the needs outside of yourself, and extend yourself to give selflessly to bridge the gaps.  

You understand how you can be a solution and are compelled to make yourself available as a resource.

This remarkable talent and example of character and humanity are what sets helpers apart from all others.  It is a form of excellence that gives true purpose to your body, mind, and spirit.  

Happy Helper vs. People Pleaser

Giving of your talents with heartfelt compassion can be a beautiful experience for both the giver and the receiver.

However, there are times that while a helper can give with the best of intentions, it is not a healthy exchange.

The reality is that helping feels good but when an attempt to help fails, it can feel horrible.

You may have created the perfect solution, but you were impatient to capture all details so you missed the true mark.

It is possible that the receiver of your kind acts was not in the heart space to receive your assistance well.  And instead took your act of kindness as an act of pity or condescending behavior.

You could have had the best and most thoughtful plan, but may have missed the mark on timing.

And while mistakes happen as a normal part of life, when helping fails it can make you feel disconnected and unsure of your ability to give well.

The Birth of a People Pleaser

People pleasing can appear very similar to being a helper but can take a more negative turn if you are not self-aware.

The nature of people-pleasing is that you take specific actions to ensure the result of making another person happy.  It can become toxic when you will take action regardless of the negative impact on your person.

Some people develop this pattern at a very young age, attempting to please overly strict or aggressive parents or other influencers. 

Others develop this behavior as a result of their work or school environments as a means to ensure positive achievement or acknowledgment.

But often failed helpers will turn into people pleasers.  Particularly if a helper has inadvertently experienced a significant instance or pattern of failed attempts to help.

Having experienced a negative or even angry response to their extended help, a helper may overextend looking for ways to fix the failure or make the person happy.

What is worse is that it is hard for an innate helper to see the difference between helping with genuine positive intent or helping for personal gain.

Helpers become people pleasers when they find themselves desperately trying to calm their own anxiety in displeasing someone else. 

They can also become overly focused on being seen or treated in a positive way in response to their giving.

This unhealthy and imbalanced excessive preoccupation with giving can be detrimental to your mental health, financial stability, or your physical well-being.

When helping hurts then somewhere the helping excellence equation has been thrown off balance.

What to Do When Helping Hurts

The hurts from overhelping can be reversed.  Depending on the length of time this pattern has gone unchecked, it can take time.

All helpers should develop the habit of being a good giver to themselves.

This is represented by an honest self-assessment of whether or not helping still feels good.  And also recognition of whether or not you are still a happy giver.

More often than you may want to admit, helping can start to feel bad.  You give when you are tired or when your resources are too low to sustain yourself.

You may also develop an obsessive tendency to gain positive feedback from others or your own personal dopamine charge from the act of helping.

The habit of giving turned into a giving compulsion can have significant detrimental effects on you.

Dedicate time to the practice of self-care.  Know and embody the understanding that only when your tank is full can you give to others at your best.

If being an expert helper is your goal, then respect that only a healthy helper can excel at helping. 

Also, to give when you are not at your best degrades the quality of what you give.

And a true helper wants to give to another the best that they have to offer always.

While it may seem counter-intuitive and hard to retrain, giving to yourself first makes your helping stronger and more effective.  

Great Helpers Accept Help

Another means to support your helping health is to lean on others.

Having people that you love and trust tell you when you may be going too far is important.  In the midst of your helping frenzy, you may lose yourself in the process. 

An accountability partner can assist in providing you with another point of view regarding your personal well-being status.

Seasoned helpers can have a never-ending list of ideas on how to help.  It is also essential to seize the opportunity to let others be expert doers when you may be a visionary expert.

You do not have to have the vision and make it happen all by yourself.

Permitting others to be a part of the process is another form of giving. 

Through your vision and inspiring energy, you create opportunities for others to participate in the helping process.

Because you know how to give you provide an excellent opportunity to teach others and to create more helping hands for the future.

Related Article:  How to Energize and Maximize Your Giving Spirit

Keeping Your Passion for Helping

If you are a natural helper but suffering from helpers’ burnout you may find yourself in the strange place of needing a charge to your helping spirit.

You may also be trying to balance your self-care with your care for others for the first time and feel confused in the process.

Be reminded and take pride that your unique gifts serve the world in a special way and continue to be needed.

Give yourself permission to experience all the benefits that your helping gift provides to others and yourself:

  • Reflecting on positive past experiences where you well demonstrated your gift of help.  See the smiles and gratitude in others and remember your own feelings of gratification.
  • Save any memories of gratitude you may receive such as cards, gifts, or smiling photos, and review them as part of your self-care regimen.  Congratulate yourself for all the help you have extended to others.
  • Affirm to yourself how you have grown to be an excellent helper and all the ways that you help others.  You are not the same person you were when you helped for the first time. Your helping gifts are likely overflowing when you truly reflect on all of them.
  • Have close friends and confidants to confide in when you feel unsure and let others remind you of your beautiful spirit.  Don’t worry. They won’t think you are being prideful.  The best partners know when you need a boost and will be more than happy to remind you how truly wonderful you are.  And you deserve to hear it, especially when you need it.
  • Take a moment just to be grateful.  Be thankful for your helping gifts and talents and all the experiences that they have provided you.  You have been given an exceptional way to live your life and not everyone can experience what helping as given to you.

Conclusion

If you are a natural helper then you should know that you possess a unique gift of giving to others. 

That gift is worth special care and attention as it serves an important need to the world.  No matter how big or small your contribution, your help can be critical to another.

Knowing how to give to yourself so that you are in the best mental, physical, and spiritual health to help is important.  And recognizing the signs when you need to receive help is just as important as the help you give.

Balancing your view of yourself, all that surrounds you, and the empathetic compassion that you extend to others can be challenging at times. 

But when you master this synchronicity, you can excel in living your purpose and helping others to the best of your ability.

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