A true helping relationship, one in which one person supports another, should be balanced.
What does that mean, though?
It means that there should be a natural give and take. You might start by offering some advice, maybe some words of wisdom based on your experience. Then, the person you’re helping might reflect on those words and try to implement them in their own life.
It does not mean that you give advice and then you implement that advice for them and then you try to force the person to understand why you’re helping and then you make calls for that person and then you set up appointments and then…
You get the idea.
Even the very word “help” is a dangerous one. It implies that one person is in control of another, that the power balance in the relationship is skewed. I think it’s possible to have healthy helping relationships, but keep in mind that some people will expect you to do all the work. Don’t do that.
What Happens When You Do All the Work
When you do all the work in a helping relationship, you are only increasing the power imbalance. You’re not learning very much because you’re acting as if that person is not even there.
A true helping relationship should be a series of actions and self-corrections. You help a person take the next step. Then you step back to assess what to do next. Then you help again. Over time, the other person will gain their footing and start to help YOU.
You’ll learn what people in tough situations are capable of. You’ll learn lessons from them. Long story short, the person being helped will find the strength to repay the favor and support you in what you are doing.
This, ideally, is how it should work. Of course, real life is messy.
Your goal should be to have the ideal helping relationship in your mind. Create a thought bubble of what you hope to get out of each helping relationship. Analyze your role and the role of the person you’re supporting. Sprinkle in what you’re feeling in the moment, and you have a delicious helping recipe.
Life is experiential. Don’t force something if it’s not there.
When you work harder than the person you’re helping, you’re decreasing your capacity to help others.
You have a lot of good to give.
Choose your actions wisely.