Does Helping Others Lead to Stress?

helping others

Helping others is a natural human instinct. And while most of us want to be kind and help others, sometimes we go too far and take on other people’s problems. This is a recipe for stress. Chances are your life is busy and stressful enough. The last thing you need is other people’s stressors resting on your shoulders.

Of course, this does not mean we shouldn’t help others. Quite the contrary. Helping others is vital to the success of our society. No one is an island. We all need help from time to time. The key is knowing how much help to give.

I’ve found that sometimes the best way to help people is to stop helping them.

The Right Way to Stop Helping Others

Rather than have others continually tell you their problems and wait for you to offer solutions (and thereby take on their problems), you could simply say, “Well, what do you think about that?” This phrase entices the other person to think of a solution to the challenge. This takes the stress of the problem off of your shoulders and keeps it where it belongs—with the other person.

Think of it like this: Mentors and coaches aren’t in the business of helping others by providing answers. They help people by engaging them to come up with their own solutions.

A solution is—more likely than not—within the ability of the person being assisted. The best way to empower someone may just be to refuse to be a co-dependent. There’s no reason for you to take on their stresses. You have enough of your own to tend to.

Realize, too, that an answer that comes from someone else may gain a temporary adaptive action or compliance, but reflective questions are the source for commitment and long-term corrective action.


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