We all know someone who goes around rescuing everybody else. They are the world’s best supporter and the person you most want in your corner when things go really wrong. Unless they are really good at it, you may also notice that they will support others and rescue others to the point where they neglect themselves. In some cases, they appear to neglect their loved ones in favour of helping others less well off than themselves.
In many cases these people are amazing, strong people playing a necessary role in a society that often appears to not care enough, or they can be the go to person for knowledge and problem solving in your workplace.
It can, however, go too far and could be a sign of emotional challenges, for the very person doing the supporting, that may not be healthy.
Here are 3 signs to look out for in yourself
You are always solving other people’s problems
You attract people with problems. Friends and family are always calling on you to dig them out of their self-made issues because they know that you will roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. When the going gets tough, those that don’t feel so tough come running to your door with their sad stories and issues. Your mantra is, “if you want something done, ask a busy person” and you are really busy.
You prioritise others over yourself
You are the ultimate sacrificer of yourself for others. No matter what you were planning, how much time you need to spend with your family and loved ones, or how high your workload is you will put all of that aside and help others. You can always find some time, somewhere to listen to others’ problems and find them the solutions the need. Even if you feel like you are at death’s door, and often it feels like that, you will go the extra mile and help those less fortunate than you or simply those that have gotten themselves into a fix.
You can’t stand to see others struggle or suffer
There is something inside you that sees other struggling and feels really uncomfortable. You worked out a long time ago that if you help them solve their problems they will feel better and so will you. You also get a big tick in the box that is titled “nice person” and that feels good. Helping others, helps them and helps you feel good about yourself.
All of the above signs have a really healthy side to them if they are kept in a healthy place. Brought together and allowed to get out of hand they can be quite a toxic place for the individual that seems to be supporting everyone else at the expense of their own emotional and physical health.
Here are a few key issues that are associated with these behaviours when they go too far
You become a disabler not an enabler
You may think you are moving others on and helping them solve their problems. The reality, however, can often be very different. You may notice it is often the same people depending upon you for your help. The word “depending” is key here. As you become their go to person to solve their problems you are allowing them to become dependent upon you and have inadvertently removed from them their ability to solve their own problems. You may help them in the short term but in the long term you hurt them as they become more and more dependent upon you.
You have become dependent upon them
The first few times you helped others out and they were so grateful, your self esteem got topped up. You felt appreciated, valued and wanted. It’s nice. Over time, however, you have become dependent upon that feeling. Maybe there are other parts of your life where you do not feel needed, useful and included and this is your way of getting your needs met. If it is, it could be getting to an unhealthy level and could cause you emotional problems in the future. In other words your self esteem and happiness is wrapped up in your image as the helper and supporter.
You are getting stressed
Sustaining all of this energy to support others and solve their problems is leaving you with not enough time or energy for your own tasks, challenges and your family. Other people are telling you to spend time with them and not with others but you are trapped by your own actions. Your list of tasks is getting longer while you spend time on others. This devotion to supporting and helping is causing tension in your home, work and personal relationships.
You feel like a victim
You feel like you are the victim of your own good nature and in many ways you are. You are certainly the victim of the choices you have made. When you start to feel like a victim it is a short hop away from resenting those that need your help. Before long you feel taken advantage of and may feel the need to disengage completely leaving those feeling dependant upon you abandoned and hurt.
The purpose of this article is not to stop you from helping others. Helping and supporting others is a wonderful act of kindness. It is, however, worthwhile being aware of your own motivations for doing so, whether you are really helping them in the long run and considering the impact it can have on you.