Why Saving People Doesn’t Work.
We want to help others. It’s in our nature. We see suffering and we want to do something about it, to make it better. And often we can help. We can ease suffering. We can do things to improve the lives of others. But there’s a difference between helping someone and trying to save them.
Of course we can physically save others. Emergency responders, firefighters, police officers, emergency room doctors and nurses, and even random citizens save people in physical peril all the time. That’s different from saving others emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, or financially. Physically saving someone is an act that removes them from the immediate danger they were experiencing. Then they’re saved and the person who saved them can move on. Problem solved.
It’s saving others from things like addictions, bad relationships, and other self-imposed issues that gets sticky fast. Trying to save people from issues like those is usually a sign of co-dependency—when the person saving the other is doing it so they can feel important or so they can try to resolve their own issues vicariously.
Remember; helping a person with personal difficulties is different from trying to save them. Trying to save them means trying to fix their issue for them. That never works because a person must truly want to change and be willing to do whatever is necessary to change before lasting changes occur. Once they’ve reached that place, then they’re open to doing the work of changing. And let’s be honest, changing one’s life can be a lot of work. And it can be painful to work through past issues. That’s one of the reasons few people actually succeed at it.
Many people start the process of changing their lives. But they’re subconsciously comfortable with where their life is. As soon as they reach a place where the pressure is less, they relax. That means the changes they did make never internalize. Then it’s only a matter of time before the issues resurface.
Understand; no matter how much you rant, rave, threaten, reason with, or cajole someone, they’re going to have limited progress until their desire to change is burning bright, like bonfire within them. You can light their path. You can show them the way. You can even help them understand why they should change. But until they want to change badly enough to walk through the fires of emotional rebirth, they’ll have limited success.
That’s why some drug addicts, alcoholics, and abusers go through treatment programs and then relapse shortly after their treatment is over. They went through the motions but never internalized it. In essence, their identity, their subconscious beliefs about themselves never changed.
Does that mean you shouldn’t try to help?
Of course not. It means you should be aware of your motives. Are you helping them because you genuinely want them to have a better life or because you need them to need your aid? You understand the difference between the two. It also means you should avoid entering any relationship where you feel compelled to fix your new partner—huge warning sign!
Someone who’s helping another because they need them to need their aid is doing both people a disservice. They have an internal motive to keep the drama going—so they’ll continue feeling needed—and are co-dependent on the relationship. They’d be better off introducing the person to a skilled therapist, counselor, or psychologist. And then working to change themselves.
Certainly, there a many people who get knocked down by life and just need some help getting back on their feet. These are people who are willing to accept help and do everything in their power to get their lives back in order. They never expect help but are grateful for it. They also keep working to better themselves whether or not others are helping them.
Here are Some Ways You Can Help Others Without Enabling Them:
Be a Mentor
Mentoring is a wonderful way to help others learn skills necessary to succeed in life. For example: People in financial need are often working low paying jobs because they don’t think they’re worth more money, they don’t have the skill set to make more money, or they made some mistake in the past that has adversely affected their employability. Sometimes they make enough money but have poor financial habits. In all of these circumstances a good mentor can help them break out of the financial rut!
If Needed: Help Them Connect With a Good Treatment Program
When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they need outside help. Even if they truly want to change, it’s near impossible to break free of these cycles without outside aid. A good treatment program will not only help the person get clean physically, it will help them address the underlying psychological issues that feed their addiction. Just getting sober won’t break the cycle of addiction. To effectively break addiction cycles the internal issues must be addressed. Otherwise the next time they find themselves stressed out they might reach for their tried and true escape—drugs or alcohol—and they’re off the wagon.
Set a Good Example
When you lead by example, others will notice. Show others what’s possible and how they can be successful. If you’ve turned your life around, let people know how you did it! There are few things more inspiring than the people who overcome great adversity. This example can’t be a persona either. That never works because eventually you’ll slip up and then all the good you did evaporates. Change your life. Show others how you did it. And be a living example of what’s possible.
Notice what They’re Doing Right
This is also powerful when it comes to helping others. It’s easy to focus on the things someone needs to change. But if these things are repeatedly brought up, it can deflate the person who needs an emotional boost. If you take the time to notice what they’re doing right, that reinforces these things. People who are recognized for the things they are doing well try harder because they feel their efforts are appreciated. So give them a pat on the back! A good rule is to notice five things they’re doing right for every one thing you mention that they might improve.
You Are The Master of Your Destiny!