Helping: Doorway to Heaven Or Hell

For most of my life, I’ve tumbled somersaults for other people and mothered, mothered and mothered them.  Why, I don’t know the answer to yet but, I do know that the only thing it’s done is to both open a doorway for people to use me as well as to shun me when they don’t want or need anything from me.

Case in point are a few stray family members who will leap bounds to call or to see me if I have something that they want and am offering to give it to them.  The rest of the time, I don’t hear from them or see them.

highway to helping or hell

I was recently concerned about one person in my life who seemed to be at the end of their rope.  I worried endlessly at their words, “I’m tired…I’ve had enough of life.”  Having lost most of my family to deaths, I was worried sick that this person was going to do something I consider stupid to themselves if I didn’t do something.  As usual, I stood on my head, got them what they wanted and needed and did everything in my power to help them through this rough spot.  The calls stopped.  As a matter of fact, all contact stopped.

Now panicked and living quite a distance away from them, making a drop-by not an easy task, I phoned and left messages with no return calls.  Then suddenly, a few days ago, I received a return call, rushed and while they were driving saying, “I got your message but, I forgot to call you back.”  (Think Exorcist with Regan’s 360 degree head-spin and spewing green pea soup upon my hearing that answer.)

“You forgot?!” I answered with surprise, anger and indignation.  “You FORGOT to call me back?  I must be the most forgettable person in the world then.”

“It’s just that I’ve been so busy,” was the beginning of that answer and, I went on to hear a plethora of things that this person had been doing.  Let me just say that they weren’t the writhing ball of tears that they had been only a couple of weeks before where I had concerned my every waking moment with the thoughts that this person might end their lives.  As a matter of fact, everything sounded not only better but, normal.

Most others would have been relieved at the sound of the answers.  Don’t get me wrong, I was relieved but there was a huge part of me that felt both angry and gullible at the same time as well.

I was angry that I had yet again, been taken in by my imagined worries about someone else.  My life had been plagued by worry and fear of losing someone else in my life and that I was gullible enough to have fallen for it all.

I’m sure that at the time, what was uttered from that person’s mouth was feeling real to them.  I’m sure that their spouse was being genuine in their plight at that time as well.  However, Life went on for them beyond my help, concern and worry.  They were in a hole at that point in time but, as most people can and will do for the most part, they had found their way back to equilibrium and were living their usual lives again.

Perhaps, what bothered me most was the fact that I had spent weeks of my own life and personal energy worrying, giving of my own time, energy, thought, deed etc. seemingly needlessly, when yet again, all would have gone back to it’s usual state anyway whether or not I had been involved.  My worry for was for naught and my actions were only appreciated at that moment, not beyond that point.  I was again, faded into the background of those people’s lives as is par for the course with most people.  I seem to be the only person who has not gotten that fact yet.

I’m not by any means advocating not helping other people here.  That’s not what I’m saying by a long shot.  What I am saying is that there’s a difference between helping someone and turning your own life upside down by turning somersaults for them to help or care about them.  There is a difference as I’ve come to learn.  What’s more, I’ve learned that people will take from you if you’re going to lay yourself down and let them walk all over your emotions and empathy.  It’s one thing to help someone else.  It’s another to make it your life’s mission to become their saviour.  There was only one Mother Theresa and even she was not as appreciated in Life as she should have been or, one would think she could have been treated for all that she did.

Today, I am removing my Habit.  I have gotten up off of the floor from this latest knock-down which seems to be a recurring theme in my life due to my own choices in Life.  Somewhere I had turned myself into the World’s Mother and I needn’t have done it because if there’s one thing that I’ve come to learn, people will look after themselves for the most part.  It’s up to us to look after ourselves too rather than everyone else.

Put yourself first.  Put your own oxygen mask on first and deal with your own needs before you go leaping in to help everyone else.

From my little corner of life, taking care of everyone else to excess is a recipe for disaster for yourself as well as the people you are doing this for especially, if it’s become a way of life for you to do. It can also become quite the let-down if you think it will endear people to you.  It doesn’t necessarily work that way especially, when done to excess or constantly.  All that it does it mark yourself as a target for those who will simply take from you.  Help but, do it in only as much as absolutely needed and even then, be sure that you’re really needed before you leap in with both feet to rescue others.  You may be enabling them, making yourself a doormat or opening yourself up to being used by others.  Be discerning with who you help and how much you help.  While helping is oftentimes needed and warranted, meter it out to the right people, in the right amounts and in the right way.  When you do take care of or help others, feel good about it within yourself first and foremost, not expecting others to truly appreciate what you’ve done or how much it took you to help them.  When done in abundance, they will have pegged you as their doormat.

Remember one thing….

Helping can be the doorway to Heaven or Hell, metaphorically speaking.

Blessings, Love and Light.

Jesus Christ I’m Not A Robot!

Jesus' lesser known miracle at the wedding.

For the first 40 years of my life, I thought I was Jesus Christ.

Has your draw dropped yet?

No, I’m not insane or psychotic and I don’t mean literally  but, I am extremely sensitive, a people pleaser (though you might not know it from by blog pieces), overly emotional, sentimental and, my dad’s favourite phrase was “Jesus Christ” to pretty much everything I was about to say.

I can remember sitting at a drive-in theatre on a Saturday night, my father in the front seat with my mom beside him and my brother and myself in the back seat.  It was the one treat a month that they could afford to take us to.  That’s about the only time that my father would put up with even hearing Elvis Presley’s voice.

“Jesus Christ,” he’d say, sighing deeply in disgust and throwing his head back.  “I feel another song coming on!  This guy doesn’t act.  He’s going to sing his way through every god-damned one of his movies.”

I used to think my father must have been a tremendously religious man because his second favourite phrase was “god-dammit”.

My brother and I would be already dressed in our pyjamas so that when we’d fall asleep, which usually happened part way through the second movie for the week, my father could carry us into the house and plop us into bed.  The featured movies were never his thing but, the second movie played each time, was for him usually, being a Western of some kind.  Ask me how we slept through gun fights at the O.K. Corral and I couldn’t tell you.  However, I do remember being upset at seeing all of the fighting.  I hated Westerns with a passion and still do but, I remember waking up for part of one movie where even my mother had fallen asleep, only to see a scene where horses were dropping with their riders and laying there.  I began to cry.

“What is your problem?” my father asked, turning around to see me sobbing heavily.

“They killed the horses!” I screeched with pure horror, finally letting it out.

There was complete silence as my dad shook his head in total disbelief while I continued to cry, unable to catch my breath.

“Jesus Christ.  A hundred men have been shot and are laying dead but, you’re crying because one horse is laying there?” he asked, seemingly frustrated with me.

“Yeeesssss,” I blurted out, blubbering even harder.

I don’t remember the full explanation verbatim but, I do remember him trying to explain to me that they were “trick horses” and had been trained to fall over like that and stay laying down, just as the men who were actors were doing.  Somehow, I could understand that men were just acting but, I couldn’t fathom the horses having that kind of training and couldn’t stop crying.  Of course, my father’s movie was ruined so, he started up the car and drove off the lot with me still on my knees, looking behind me at the screen to see yet another horse fall over.  It took me until half way home before I finally settled down enough to stop the heavy crying to simple sniffling the rest of the way home.  It took him over 3 weeks to convince me that it was all just “acting, stunts and training”.  It also took a whole pack of bologne for my father to train our dog to drop, lay down and roll over when he’d point his finger at Sam and say, “bang”.  Sam, the black lab was really fast at learning his trick.

As time went on and I got older, I was still extremely sensitive and emotional.  Just about anything would set me off into an emotional state.  While I was better at hiding it, my dad always knew when I’d gone over that emotional cliff.

“Jesus Christ!” he’d say. “Are you going to go through this again?  Why can’t you let it drop?”

I don’t know why I couldn’t let whatever it was go and apparently, it registered on my face no matter how hard I tried to not show it.

“Grow a thicker skin,” my mother would say, also fed up with my heightened sense of sympathy and empathy for so much and so many people and animals.  “This is life.  This is what happens in it and you’re never going to survive unless you learn to toughen up.”

Grow a thicker skin and toughen up.  Hmmmm.

Try as I might, I couldn’t simply “toughen up” and always wondered what the hell she meant by “grow a thicker skin”.

It wasn’t until more recently that I had run myself ragged, trying to help everyone I could help that something snapped in me and I realized that something had to change.  A friend of mine was joking around about how much I’d done for her.  Inadvertently, she let the reality of things out of the bag.

“Ha!” she said, while I reeled on about my upset at a family member for having done the things she’d done to me in spite of me having nearly stood on my head for her.  “Everyone knows that all we have to do is to show you a few tears or tell you a sob story and you’ll turn the 4 corners of the earth inside out.”

There it was.  There was another “Jesus Christ moment” coming from someone else’s mouth other than my father’s but, it was also one of the most awakening moments I’ve had.  I had thin skin and everyone else knew it, including my own daughter who had twisted me into a pretzel, trying to please and take care of her needs and was trying it yet again.

My husband has long since grown tired of me screaming, “stop the car” as I’ve leapt out of the vehicle before he could stop it fully, in order to help someone on the sidewalk or side of the road where dozens of other people surrounding them, had been ignoring the person in trouble.  He’s sighed in disbelief as I’ve spotted a look on someone’s face that told me the person was distraught and leaped in, head first to asking them if they were ok then, proceeded in helping them out no matter what it took to do it.  One day, my broad ability to spot troubled people took the form of an all day stint, keeping an elderly man with dementia occupied while an already over-burdened police department tried to get officers dispatched to take over.  The man had been missing for an entire day, leaving behind a deeply upset and worried wife and daughter.  All that I could think of was that had he been my father, grandfather or elderly husband, how would I want someone to take care of him? I did what I felt was appropriate, buying him lunch and engaging him in a conversation until police and paramedics arrived several hours later.  Of course, my partner in crime, my husband, simply goes along with me now because he knows that I’m the way that I am and am not going to give up on helping others.  I can’t.  I haven’t grown that thicker skin that my mother talked about when I was younger.

I am getting better with this now.  I’m using my head more than my emotions.  Most of that lesson though, has had to come from a series of kicks in the rear end through helping.  As my grandmother used to try to tell me, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.  How true that saying is.  I’ve been kicked and punched while trying to help.  I’ve lost favourite sweaters by covering someone with mine.  People have dumped everything on me from their woes and troubles to things that they simply don’t want to do themselves.  I’ve been walked away from and left like a used dish rag (quite literally) and I’ve known that people have wiped their feet on me while walking off into the sunset after having gotten what they needed and wanted from me, never hearing from them again.  I now recognize that people are out to look after Number One…themselves so, I help less than I used to.  I can also see where I’m taking on things that are not mine to deal with and am being used and abused.  That’s where I’m drawing a line and stopping in my tracks, much to my husband’s delight and relief.

My father died at the age of 65 with advanced bladder cancer.  My mother died at the age of 54 with a malignant and rare form of brain tumour.  My brother died in 2011 at the age of 53 after a fall at work where he suffered irreversible and massive brain injuries.  I miss them all terribly and I will likely never be over their losses.  That much, I think is understandable for most people.  However, while part of me left with all 3 of them, I am still here and still learning to grown that thicker skin.  More than anything, I have learned that I am not Jesus Christ and cannot heal the masses.  I am an ordinary human being who is what is considered to be “a highly sensitive person”.  I will likely always be extremely empathetic as well.  However, god-dammit…even Jesus had temper tantrums and upturned tables at times.  I am due for some of that.

I may be overly emotional still.  I may not have grown a thick enough skin even to this day.  People may still be saying “Jesus Christ” in a disbelieving way when I leap in with both feet but, I would much rather be this way at times than those who would pass by a person in need like a robot on course who will not feel enough to even contemplate stopping to help someone in trouble.  I’d much rather be the person I am even if I do have to turn down the volume on caring a bit more to save my own sanity as I am getting older now too.

From my little corner of life, I’d rather be a Jesus Christ with a thinner skin than an unfeeling robot.  That’s just me though and I’m not likely to fully change anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

Helping Can Become An Addiction Or An Escape

Helping others is a noble cause and more often than not, people need and want help to some extent or another but, when it becomes a habit within oneself it’s no longer about helping but, rather an outward expression of how one is feeling about themselves internally.

There’s a pay-off for chronic helpers in many ways but, there are two main reasons why people can get caught up in a vicious help cycle and it can become an addiction.  For some people, helping is like needing a “fix”.

Help Addictions can become an escape method.

Help Addictions can become an escape method.

 First, chronic helping can help us divert our attention away from dealing with something within either ourselves or our lives.  In other words, instead of working on what ails us and our own lives, we have the excuse, “I never get around to taking care of that because I am so busy helping (fill in the blanks here).  It can become an escape or an excuse or both and, that stops us from having to deal with our own issues.

Secondly, it can become a method by which we try to feel loved, wanted and, or needed by others.  If we are helping others, they will like us, thank us and want us around them type thinking.

In either case above, the chronic helper is not quite as healthy or altruistic as one might believe.  Even on a subconscious level, possibly totally unbeknownst to us, there’s something in it for those of us who do it.

It took a long time for me to get the idea that helping others is no guarantee of being loved, liked or wanted nor, is it truly an escape from having to fix what is going wrong within ourselves or our own lives.

I endured a lot of hurt, rejection and internal feelings of inadequacy, driving me even more towards more helping…until I realized that the source of my pain was actually coming from my chronic feeling the need to help.  I wasn’t feeling good anymore about it but rather, it was bringing me more pain.

Why?  That was the question I had to ask myself and I went in search of answers with a shocking set of revelations.

Helping Too Much Can Cause Rejection From Others 

Contrary to popular belief, what is called “Karma” doesn’t exactly work the way that one would think or hope that it should.  Doing good doesn’t alway bring good into your life.

Helping others can actually drive people away from you.  Here are several different reasons how and why.

  • People like what you DO for them, not necessarily, you.
  • The people that you help on a regular basis will eventually get used to you doing for them and therefore, come to see your help as your “job”. At that point, your help is no longer truly appreciated but, they become complacent and expect that type of behaviour from you.
  • Those you have helped often enough, will eventually show a vulnerability within  themselves to you and the last person that they want around them are those who know their weaknesses. They will seek out others who aren’t aware of them being weak in any way especially, during the good times in their lives.
  • Chronic helping can lead others to see you as a doormat.  When you are readily and frequently ready to help them, people can come to feel that you have no life of your own so, they no longer respect your time, energy or effort.  In effect, it’s like they’re doing you a favour by giving you something to do with your days, time and energy.
  • Being available and giving to them on a regular basis, without return expectation or as a constant set of favours, gives the impression that you have no boundaries.  If you have none, why should they respect you.  People like and respect people who like and respect themselves.
  • Your help can be resented because the person tends to feel constantly indebted even if only on a subconscious level and without you having indicated that you expected anything in return.  No one likes feeling continually indebted to someone else.

Ways To Deal With The Need To Chronic Help

  • Ask yourself what you are getting out of helping others.  You’re getting something out of doing this. Is it that “feel good feeling”?  If so, you might need to break that feeling down a bit further.
  • Helping others makes us all feel good but, doing it on a regular or chronic basis, may be becoming a a “drug” of sorts to numb or squash what ails you and your life.
  • Ask yourself what it is that is going on within yourself or your life that gives you the longing for this “drug”.  Is it approval, love, companionship, being needed, wanted, or even wanting people to feel indebted to you to in order to keep their loyalty.
  • Are you avoiding fixing issues within your own life and using helping others as an excuse as to why you can’t get to repairing what is wrong?
  • Could you be feeling guilty that someone else is in trouble of some kind and you’re soothing your own feelings of guilt for being ok in your own life in some way?
  • Are you too empathetic and over-identifying with other people?
  • Once you’ve weeded through the possible causes that keep you hooked on being a Chronic Helper, you can take action towards halting your need for over-helping.

Breaking The Cycle And Why You Should

The “warm and fuzzys” that we all feel when we get “thank you’s” from others is a great feeling.  We all love to feel good about ourselves, appreciated, needed and wanted.  It’s part of human nature and helping others is a good thing but, only when done in moderation and for the right reasons.  When we do it to garner love, attention, affection, being needed, wanted, liked or to avoid facing our own demons/quelling them, we are putting ourselves into a position to be used, abused, hurt and rejected.  Here are some points to help.

  1. Once you have identified the reason that you feel the need to chronically help.  STOP and listen to yourself and your inner voice.
  2. People like and respect people who like and respect themselves. We teach others how to treat us.  If you’re not respecting yourself, your time or your energy, they won’t either.  Put up boundaries and conditions for yourself and others.  Stop yourself before you try to help and place a value upon your help for them and yourself.
  3. Limit the amount of time that you’re going to help and what you will do to help.  Remember, their lives are NOT your responsibility (unless you’re a caregiver for a child, infirm or elderly person/pet.  Even then, give yourself time for yourself and respect your own needs too).
  4. If you’re doing it because you want to be liked, loved, appreciated, wanted, needed, are lonely or anything along those lines, this isn’t the way to get any of that for more than a couple of times.  Remember, people start loving what you can do for them, not you, after awhile. You’re working against getting those needs met by attempting to achieve it via chronic helping.
  5. Ask for something in return for your help if it’s more than once or twice. People respect help more when it’s being paid for in some way or another and they’ll respect you for it too.
  6. If you love that warm and fuzzy feeling helping gives you, volunteer!  There are charities all over the world and all sorts of opportunities to help others in organized, time-limited ways where you can get that feeling but be cut off in appropriate and healthy amounts.  Don’t volunteer more than what is being asked for either.
  7. Remember that sometimes, chronic helpers actually push their help on others..even when it’s not wanted.  When someone says, “it’s ok”…trust them.  It’s ok.  They don’t want or need your help.  Save yourself some heartache and possibly nasty feelings from others.  Back off and let them do it themselves.
  8. WAIT to be asked for help then, ask yourself what it will cost you to help them.  If it’s only once in a long while that you’re being asked and it’s not taking away from you, do it but, don’t anticipate everyone’s possible needs and offer it up on a silver platter.
  9. Remember that some people like being in certain predicaments and don’t want to get out of them.  When you recognize that in someone, back off. Let them be where they are.  They are getting something out of being there. Let them have it and figure it out for themselves.
  10. You’re not the only fish in the sea who can help.  Realize that and recognize that everyone has lessons to learn in one way or another.  Some people need to learn how to help themselves and others need to learn how to help others.  Let people learn what they need to learn.  You’re not a deity nor, omnipotent. Everyone needs to learn something, somehow.  Even children need to fall, get burned, hurt, lost etc., to learn what NOT to do and what to do.  Don’t take away their learning curves from them.

The Meddler, The Dupe And The Martyr

Lastly, think to yourself as having been labelled for helping others too much.  A lot of people will look at those who are chronic helpers as either “The Meddler”, “The Dupe” or “The Martyr”.

When people help too much, they often know a lot about the person’s personal life and, when not wanted, it turns you into a meddling position in their minds.  They can see you as someone who wants into their minds and lives especially, if you’re pushing your help onto them.

The Dupe is the one that people often think of as “good ole so-and-so” and often follow that with an “I’ll get her/him to do it!”  That’s when you’ve become nothing more than a doormat for them.  You don’t mean anything to them other than as a vehicle to get their needs met.  They’ll be off with other friends or family for lunch, dinner and shows who have done little, if anything for them while you’re left scratching your head, wondering why.  You’ve been “duped”.

The Martyr is the person who does so much for everyone else that others are reminded (whether you do it or not) that they’ve done a lot for that person or many.  Guilt sets in that they’ve allowed you to do it all for them and suddenly, they’re feeling inferior or as though you’re superior to them.  No one likes to be around people who make them feel that way whether intentionally or through their own inner thoughts and feelings.  You’re out of any of the good times or any lasting, healthy, fun and good relationship with them if you continue on with it.

Learn to love yourself.  Help yourself first.  Put your own oxygen mask on first.  To thine own self be true.  Charity begins at home.  Old but, wise pieces of advice to take. Take care of you first and others will follow suit with you.

I’m not a trained professional of any kind so, this is just how I’m seeing things from my little corner of life through experience and learning.

Why Are The People I’ve Done The Most For Not Around Anymore?

puzzled_man1

We all need to feel as though we matter.  As humans, we inherit a need to feel that we have some meaning, some purpose and most of all, others around us who truly appreciate us for who we are and not just what we can do for them.  Yet, all too often, we find ourselves, sitting back, alone and wondering where all of the people are who we have helped over our lifetimes.

In recent years, I have looked back at my life and recognized that the people I have done the most for or with, are no longer part of my life.  It’s not because we’ve fought and parted ways but, it appears to be more the idea that they were around me for whatever purpose I served for them during times of need and once that need no longer existed or, they’d found others to fill those needs, I was no longer of any value to them.  How sad is that, for both them and myself?

woman-wondering

Was it my fault?  Had I done far more than I should have done and they came to not have respect for me?  Did I do too much and they felt indebted in ways that they knew that they could never pay back?  Perhaps, it was more the idea that they felt somehow “less than” when they came out the other side of their problems and I reminded them of their weaker times?  And, why weren’t they around to share the good times?  Why were they only contacting me during the bad times but, were only too happy to be with others to celebrate the good in their lives?  Had I set it up for them and made it easy for them to take from me and not give back?  Had I become associated with only their problems and nothing more than that?  Did I set up those dynamics where they associated me with the problem times and nothing more?  

Is it their faults?  Were they only ever around me for what I could do for them and once they no longer had a need, I was no longer of any use to them?  Are they selfish users who took people for what they could get out of them and I was simply a sitting duck for those types of people?  Were they that shallow that they could take and use me, tossing me away like a used paper towel?  How could so many people be this selfish and inconsiderate, taking only what they need, when they needed it from me and not look back?

I don’t have the answers to all of these questions but, in hindsight, it’s likely been a combination of both me and them.  It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.  I provided the welcome mat for them to walk in on, invited them and their troubles into my world and life, treated them with total and complete empathy and concern, doing all that I could to alleviate their pain and, who could blame them for taking me up on it all?  I opened the door for them to walk right in and have someone to lean on when they needed it, not expecting anything in return.  That was my fault.  I set up those dynamics.  They took me up on it like people in trouble would naturally do and, they did it without worry or stress because I gave no indication that I expected any sort of repayment in any way.  No hooks or strings attached.

Tens of thousands of dollars given out that will never be paid back, thousands of hours spent listening, thinking, researching, helping, caregiving, planning and helping later, none of these people are still in my life.  They won’t ever be and frankly, I don’t want them back at this point but, I have no one to blame except myself for being in this situation in the first place.

There are a few cardinal rules in Life that we should remember if we don’t want to be in these types of situations.

Don’t Set Up Dynamics You Don’t Want To Continue

Once you set up a balance between yourself and someone else, you’ve set a pattern that will become entrenched. If people come to know you as someone who will always be there for them, they will continue expecting that from you.  Once you’ve done that, it is nearly impossible to turn the tables around and start over again.  They will have learned to lean on you and count on you.  STOP there.  You’ve established yourself as their go-to person in times of trouble and that’s exactly when and how they will come to you.  If you don’t want to continue with a pattern like that, don’t start it and keep it up for long.  Help but, don’t become a doormat for their problems.

Respect Yourself, Your Time, Your Energy And, They Will Too

Other people need to be taught how to treat you.  If you’re leading by example by not giving them time limits, pushing aside all of your own needs or wants and being at their beckon call constantly, you are showing them that your time, your energy and you as a person have limitless boundaries, devoted solely to them and their needs.  However, should you show them that you have a life too, (even if you’re going to sit and watch paint dry) and that your time and energy are respected by you and others, they will get the hint that they are getting something special from you…a favour, not a job.  By not setting those boundaries, you are offering yourself up on a silver platter to be used and abused.  You are essentially teaching them that you have no life beyond their needs and, heaven knows, people can tend to feel that their problems/issues are the most important thing in the world to them so, they must be to you as well since you are always there for them.

Offer Them Help…Not A Handout And Expect Something In Return

So many people in today’s world are stressed, distressed, harried and in trouble.  It’s ok to help someone out but, it’s not ok to take care of their problems for them.  Each and every one of us will have problems.  No one is without them but, the moment that we think that we can take them all over and solve them all for others, we are not only fooling ourselves but, we are robbing people of the experience and lessons of learning to solve their own problems.  If we continue to do that, they will never learn to deal with their own issues.  Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.

We wouldn’t expect our professionals or other people who solve problems to do it for free all of the time, would we?  We therefore, come to respect their ability to help us because we have to pay for it in some way.  The same holds true for people that we help.  When something is done consistently for free, it’s no longer a helping hand and we are no longer looked upon as kind and generous to have done it.  Instead, our help is looked upon as our job, not a kind-hearted favour.  Ask for something in return.  It may be a small thing. It may be something that they can do for you or, it might be that you will ask them to water your lawn while you’re on holidays or perhaps, they have a talent for something that can be asked for in return.  You need not make it a barter system but, when you’ve helped someone out, ask them for something as a form of payment.  Let them know that it’s a two-way street and that they should help you out in some way or another too or, receive some sort of payment in return as it is a favour not your job to help them.  You are not responsible for everyone else and their problems.  Unless of course, someone made you a god or a martyr.

When They Are Not Trying To Really Help Themselves, Back Up And Stop!

Sadly, there are far too many people in this world who expect a free ride and truly have no real intention of ever solving their problems even if you give them solutions right up front and start it for them.  You may even find them angry and wonder why you’re being shunned or yelled at for offering them what you might consider extremely helpful, reasonable and great advice/solutions.  There’s a reason why you’re in this mess and left befuddled.  These people never actually wanted to solve their problems in the first place.

As hard as it is to believe, there are those who love to be in trouble because they love the drama and attention that it brings them.  As fast as you can solve one problem for them, if they’ll let you, they’ll be off creating another one while you’re still wiping the sweat from your brow and cleaning up the shambles your own life has been left in while doing their work for them.  These people are the “Drama Queens/Kings” of the world who thrive on having problems and the sympathy they draw from others.  They see “SUCKER” written right across your forehead and they will stick to you like Crazy Glue has stuck them to your side.  They’ve found their audience to act out their stories of pain and suffering while you lap it up and applaud them with your empathy and sympathy, blood, sweat and tears.  They adore that from you and you’re giving it to them.

When They Walk From Your Life…Don’t Chase Them

Like me, you may be sitting back, thinking….”what have I done wrong?  Why am I alone like this when I’ve helped so many people?  I must be doing something wrong to not have people want to be around me like this.  Maybe, I need to try harder?”  If you are, stop right there.  The truth is, you have simply allowed yourself to be abused.  That’s the thing that you’ve done wrong.  If those that you’ve always been there for, have walked out of your life, there’s only really 2 reasons.  Firstly, they have solved their problems or, they have found someone else to solve them now that suits them better.  Either way, they have shown you that you were only part of their lives to do for them and help. It was never you that they loved or cared about, in spite of their many proclamations of “you are the only person I can count on…you’re such a wonderful person and I don’t know what I’d do without you” to things like “you’re more family to me than my family and I love you!”  If they ave walked from your life, they don’t truly feel those things that they’ve said.  They used it all as bait to get what they wanted from you.  They are not sincere and you don’t want them back in your life, unless of course, you enjoy being used and abused.  Don’t go looking for them.  Let them ride off into the sunset where they will likely use someone else or perhaps, many others.

What Now?  I’m Alone and Lonely!

You may be so used to helping others by now that you truly feel like you’re alone and lonely when the blood sucking users have left your life or hopefully, you’ve dumped them but, the truth is, all that you’ve really lost are people who loved what you could do for them, not you.  As sad as that may sound and feel, you haven’t lost anything good from your life in these people.  You’ve gotten rid of the energy drainers.  You may be temporarily feeling alone and lost but that’s because you have the time on your hands that you didn’t have before while helping them.  You may feel alone because these types of people will constantly be around, writing or phoning you with their problems and be so invasive in your life that you were never truly alone and it can suddenly feel lonely because you were in a pattern of having someone constantly needing and wanting to be around you.  You have to ask yourself if you’re truly missing that person themselves or whether you were stuck in the companionship of someone who was simply there to get what they could get from you.  I can guarantee you that is more likely the latter scenario.

While no one is truly and completely “bad” and therefore, brings some sort of “good” into your life, even if it’s only in feeling that you have a purpose of some kind while taking care of their needs, all that you’ve lost is an abuser/user.  You haven’t lost a friend because friends would never just take then, walk on you when you no longer served that purpose for them.  All that you’ve lost is the abuse and user relationship and while you may feel empty, lost, alone and lonely for a bit, it’s also been a learning curve for you as well.  You’ve learned to curb your helping habits, balance out your relationships to ones of not just giving but, also learning to ask and accepting receiving in return.  You’ve also learned that your time, energy and thoughts should be divided to include helping yourself to better your own life as well as to demand respect for that and yourself.

Now is the time to use those energies, time and thought and put them to use in your own life and towards your own needs.  Figure out what you would like to have happen in your own life and how to get those things. Look into things that you’d like to do and do them.  When you do things that you like to do, you’ll often find others of similar interests and thinking who can often become a true friend.  Do that enough time and you’ll find yourself surrounded by more people than you thought possible and with the right reasons behind them as well as the proper balance.

More than anything, as one final word of caution, never set up a friendship or relationship based on solving someone else’s problems or being a constant shoulder or ear for them.  It’s ok for someone to tell you that they have a problem and you not attempt to solve it for them.  If the first thing out of their mouths are problems, see that as a warning beacon that they’re going to try to sucker you into their issues and get you to help in some way.  Walk away.  People need other people in times of trouble no doubt and that’s what friends are for but, when your entire friendship or relationship is based on feeling sorry for them and their problems, you’re already heading down a slippery slope.  If they can’t make you laugh and have fun too and only want to whine on your shoulder, you’re already setting off a dynamic that will turn into resentment on your part and them walking in the end unless you keep on giving until you’re burned out in many, if not all ways.  Not worth it.

Take this for what it’s worth but, that’s the way that I’m seeing things from experiences in my little corner of life.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Person In Need And A Psychic Vampire

helping friendvamp101

I admit it.  I am a “Helpaholic”.  I cannot stand knowing that someone is in trouble therefore, I put on my heroine cape and go leaping in to try to rescue them from the perils of pain.  The smallest whiff of someone being in trouble is enough to turn me into a wonder woman who will turn the world on its side if I think that it might help someone.  Oftentimes, that makes me easy prey for what is referred to as a “Psychic Vampire”, not a friend.

Why I do this, I don’t know.  Perhaps, it dates back to a dysfunctional childhood where trouble and pain were a daily occurrence?  Or, maybe, it was too much empathy built into me on an instinctive level and magnified a thousand times over?  It may simply be the idea that I’m somehow warped/flawed into believing that by helping others, somehow I’m buying love?  A therapist would likely have a field day with this one but, suffice it to say that if someone is in trouble and I so much as get a whiff of it, I’d be there.

Either I’m noble, kind and generous to a fault or, I’m stupid.

There is a line between helping and being a sucker.  I’ve been the sucker for far too long and for far too many people.  When your friends admit that they know that all that they have to do is to tell you about their problem or give you a sob story and they know that you’ll be there, you’ve gone too far and you’ve become a sucker.

If you’ve never encountered friends, bosses, co-workders and especially family, tell you that, there are signs that will tell you who is using you and who genuinely needs your help.

First, everyone has problems, including you.  None of us on this planet don’t have some sort of problem or another in our lives so, these people whining on your shoulder with their tales of woes, do not hold a monopoly on having trouble in their lives.  Everyone has something that they can whine about.

Secondly, not every whiner wants to fix their problems, surprisingly enough.  Some simply want the empathy, sympathy and attention that it gets them so, all of your energy will be going into allowing these people to suck you dry of your time, thought, energy and emotions while they move onto the next person who will grant them time to hear their problems.  Yes, these people don’t stop at just one person to vent or cry to.  There’s usually a plethora of others they will try with, in spite of their proclamations of “you’re the only person I have to talk to and I can’t tell anyone else.”  Yeah, right.  Try talking to some of their other friends or family members and you can pretty much be guaranteed that at least a few know the same things that you do, with perhaps, a bit of a twist to the details, depending upon that person’s levels of tolerance to drivel.

Thirdly, not everything you hear coming from their mouths or see happening in their lives is real.  Some of it is half-truths, fabricated, self-produced, self-inflicted, or purposely slanted and embellished to garner your attention.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Even if they, themselves are delusional about their issues, you are not hearing the entire truth from them in all likelihood.  Serial troubled souls as I call those who seem to never be out of trouble, are rarely ever victims of never-ending and total bad luck.  A lot of the troubles that they allegedly getting into are usually caused or created by or in their own minds then, magnified further in their stories recounted to you.

That’s not to say that people are never in trouble and never need help in some way or another but, if you’re finding yourself faced with someone who appears to constantly be in one problem situation after another, crying on your shoulder by phone, in person or email and you find yourself constantly saying to yourself, “poor so-and-so…they can’t catch a break,” think twice.  There may be more to these people’s problems than you know.

Veronica, a friend of mine, was constantly in seeming bad financial trouble.  She claimed that she couldn’t even put food on her table and was going to lose her house.  Veronica also seemed to get into one bad relationship after another where she was always the one left behind in pain and sorrow.  Her family were all “no good” and wouldn’t help her.  Every friend she ever had (except me of course) had deserted her and weren’t caring people (like I was, of course).  Her children were horrid to her and didn’t care if she dropped dead with all of her health issues and, she never left the house because she had nowhere to go without money, friends, family or help.  She spent every holiday on her own.  She had nothing and no one and proclaimed to want “to die”.

For over two decades, I kept swooping in like a masked and caped crusader, to save her from what appeared to be excrutiating misery, debt, loneliness and even told others in her life off for being so insensitive to her and her needs, giving her money that has yet to ever be able to be paid back as…there was no money coming in.

I took flack from others for “meddling” into their lives when I’d try to talk to them about Veronica and her horrific situations.  I was shunned, talked about and hated by others for what I saw as simply a “duty” to a friend.

As time went by and my own life was fraught with problems, family and other friend’s deaths, financial issues myself and my own set of headaches, I became somewhat crippled within my own life and could no longer do what I used to do for Veronica.  As a matter of fact, Veronica was pretty perturbed that I wasn’t able to be there for her and considered it a “slight” by me, not even giving me the time of day to hear out my problems.  To add insult to injury, just as I could have used a friend, even just to have a coffee with to take my mind off of my own issues, Veronica was off with other people she knew and I didn’t see or hear from her at all.

The separation did me good though.  I eventually started to come out the other side of a really difficult rough patch in my life and had room to think and breathe again before Veronica heard that I was doing better and began to resurface.  At this point though, I had been through enough of Life’s issues to have learned a thing or two about how to deal with those times, issues and most of all, figure out what made people like Veronica tick.  This time, I was prepared to deal with her on both a higher and more solid ground versus jumping into her own, self-created quicksand with her.

One of the things that I learned through my own troubled time experiences is that when you are truly down financially, you do whatever you can or need to do in order to get yourself afloat again.  If that means scrubbing toilets or washing dishes, you do it until something better comes along or until your finances are straightened out.  When I offered information and contacts to Veronica for work to get her some sort of income, she chose not to take any of those opportunities as they “weren’t right for her”.

When I had suffered from panic and depressive episodes, I sought out counselling and offered her the name and phone numbers to several free counsellors and received the answer, “nah…they’re more screwed up than we are.”

In suggesting that her son, living with her, in a beautiful basement apartment in the house that she lived in, either move upstairs into his bedroom again or pay the full rent the apartment could have garnered, she “didn’t want to talk about it” in spite of the bank threatening to take her house for lack of mortgage payments which also meant that her son’s roof would be gone as well.

The romantic relationship she was in was neglectful, bordering on abusive and he was an alcoholic and drug user with no money of his own, often waiting for her to feed him.  She’d constantly cry that there was nothing there, how hurt and angry she was at it all and him.  I obviously, suggested that she end that one and put her energy into her own life first, then look for someone better suited to her.  She pshawed that suggestion by saying, “but, he fixes things around my house for me.”

The list is endless but, by these examples, it’s likely plain to anyone reading this that Veronica didn’t want to help herself in any way.  She also wasn’t telling me the truth or at the least, not the entire truth about everything as I’d catch her in her own lies where she’d try to back-peddle and cover it up with excuses or more lies.

The plain and simple bottom line to Veronica and others like her are that at best, they are stuck and until or unless they truly want to make a change, your help isn’t going to make even the smallest of dents in anything.  At worst, these types of people are out for what they can get out of you in whatever ways that you will allow and for as long as you will continue doing it for them.  They will suck you dry in every conceivable way if you let them because they have no intentions of doing what could or would help them.  In essence, they don’t really want to be helped.  They love living in the drama and getting the attention that it creates for them in suckers like those who will fall for it.

If you truly want to know if your friend or family member really wants help, try offering them up solutions to their problems as a test.  If they constantly have reasons why they can’t or won’t take them or use them, you not only know that you are dealing with someone who cannot be helped until they want out of their issues but, you also know that they’re going to continue being psychic vampires on your time, energy, thoughts and emotions.  Give it up.  You cannot win.  You can only lose.

Go have yourself a coffee and enjoy something in your day because the energy that you’ve spent on these types of people are wasted.  May as well enjoy your own life and solve your own Life Problems as we all must do.

At least, that’s the way that I see things from my little corner of life right now.

Are You A Helper Or A Doormat?

 

Have you ever been dragged into a friend or family member’s problems that’s taken up so much of your time and energy that you’ve let go of what you needed to do for yourself, only to find them nowhere around after their problem has been solved?

I am famous for allowing myself to feel sorry for people and become involved deeply in their woes, problems, issues and simply trying to “be there for them”.  I’ve pushed aside things that I have needed to get done in my own, personal life in order to do so and, left myself in messes because I’ve had to scramble to play catch-up afterwards and worse, these people are nowhere to be found once their problems have been dealt with and they’re in a better emotional state.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I’m blaming other people.  It’s not their fault that I’m an empathic sponge who will drop everything to help someone else.  That is my personal issue to learn to deal with, not theirs.  Afterall, if you offer a banquet to a hungry person, don’t cry when they eat it all.

The problem for me is that I tend to give my heart and soul to someone who needs help and they know it.  That makes me a standing target for those who have previously seen me in action and know that I will go to all lengths to help them out.

In all honesty, it’s not the fact that I’ve given my help, thought, empathy and energy.  I have plenty of it to go around.  The real issue is that once they are feeling better about their situations, I don’t hear from them until the next problem arises.  Oftentimes, I never hear the end result or the “happy news”.  I just don’t hear from them, period and end up having to chase them down to find out how they are doing.  Worse than that, they appear annoyed that I’ve called or dropped by to see how they are doing.  It’s almost as though it’s an invasion of their time and energy.  That is the part that really sets me off.

Some people have asked whether I do these things for others because I’m expecting something in return.  My answer is “no”.  I do it because I can help and I feel that everyone needs help when they are down.  The only thing that I expect in return is to actually hear the outcome once whatever they’re dealing with has been dealt with, as well as to hear from them from time to time when things are fine.  That’s not the case.  It seems that they know my address, phone number and email address when they’re in trouble but, develop amnesia when they have either resolved them or have no major issue to deal with in their lives.

So, why am I sitting here writing this when the answer is obvious?  Just don’t become so heavily involved in other people’s problems.

In all actuality, I’m venting.  I’m also reminding myself that it’s ok to sometimes say (especially with repeat offenders), “I hope things turn out well for you,” and leave it at that.  Just because I can do something, doesn’t obligate me to do it.  That’s a lesson that I have to continue trying to teach myself.  It’s not that helping other people during times of trouble is a bad thing.  It’s the idea that there’s times when we should get involved and other times when we should simply wish them well and leave it there.  There are very few times in Life where we should become so involved that we neglect ourselves and our own needs to that extent.

In short, I have yet to learn that there’s a difference between helping someone and becoming a doormat.  I’m still a doormat but, I’m working on that for it is my issue, not theirs.

If you’ve felt the same type of thing from your own personal experiences, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself if you’re a Helper or a Doormat too.  There’s a distinct difference.

Helpers, help others but, they do so to a healthy level for both themselves as well as the other person.  They don’t foresake their own lives and everything in it but, instead, lend a healthy level of hand, keeping a line/boundary.  They don’t get so deeply involved with someone else’s problems that it becomes their “job”.   They also recognize who is truly in need of help and not simply a “vampire” who will suck the life right out and not look back when they are fine and dandy.  They also recognize the difference between someone who is using them and someone who is genuinely there at other times, not just the “bad”.

Doormats  by comparison, are those who will give all to others’ needs, foresaking their own needs, repeating those actions with people who could care less about you unless there’s something to be had by them out of contact with you.  It’s also about allowing people you know won’t come near you once their problems are solved and you’re still there, waiting for them for the next time.

Because of who I am as a person, I will always feel the need to help others but….I also need to learn that being a Helper doesn’t need to turn me into a Doormat.

As a true friend and I have discovered, there was only one Mother Teresa.  I’m not her so, my Habit needs to come off because there won’t be a Sainthood bestowed upon me for all of this time and energy that I’ve been putting into others.

How about you?  Which are you?  Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

Insanity:

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

There’s no doubt then that I’m already insane.

I’ve been doing the same thing most of my life and can’t get it through my thick skull that I’m not going to get a different result.

Ever have an Oprah “Aha Moment”?  That’s where you suddenly wake up to the fact that you can finally see where the problem lays or, you finally “get” what’s wrong with the picture you’ve been trying to draw for the last 40 years or more.

I had one of those moments today.

I finally Aha’d myself into the recognition that the Laws of Karma aren’t exactly what they’re cracked up to be.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been “doing unto others as I would have others do unto me,” but, either I’m not getting that right or, others aren’t.

I’ve held doors open for people who have been bundled up with their arms full, struggling with strollers or wheelchairs, only to have someone else push past me, hitting me with their bag or tripping me with their feet as they stop short, just inside the doors.

People have come to me while in the check-out line, showing me one or two items, looking at my half full cart, wistfully asking to go ahead.  Of course, I’ve let them go ahead of me, only to find their husband or kid, coming racing up from behind, with ten more items and, hold up the line because they either haven’t had the right change, needed a price check or, can’t remember their pin number on their debit or credit card.

Those asking for spare change, are always a conundrum.  I’ve given what little change I’ve had in my wallet to someone, only to see them get into a cab five minutes later, with a case of beer.  Not to be fooled twice, I’ve asked them what they need and instead of giving them change for “something to eat”, taken them into the closest restaurant or grocery store, whereupon they’ve gotten upset that I haven’t had enough to pay for the “super size” meal and told me they weren’t hungry in the first place.

Then, there’s the so called, “friend” who appears to call to see how you’re doing but, you end up spending the next two hours on the phone with them, listening to a litany of woes and not getting around to getting out to pick up what you needed to pick up after they tell you that they now, “feel better and are getting changed to go out for dinner” while you’re scrambling to make an omlette out of the 2 eggs you have left in your refridgerator because you didn’t make it to the store for listening to their problems.

Worse than that, is the friend who drops by and proceeds to compliment you on everything that you do, have around you and even how great your hair looks even though you haven’t combed it that day then, asks you to help them with something or other.  You vow not to let that happen again and to recognize the signs of a favour going to be asked but, now that you’ve done one favour, they skip the buttering up and head straight for the request, leaving you stumbling to find a reason why you can’t help this time.  So, you help them out yet again.  However, the one time that you’re really stuck and need help, you decide to call in a favour from them and they’re busy.  Yeah, sure.  You’ve already fixed all of their problems so, they’re free to go on to do what they want.

Perhaps, the most bothersome of the help situations is when you’ve helped someone out a few hundred times and finally they do you a favour in return and they see fit to call it “even”.

Of course, we all have the friends who complain that you never call them but, whenever you do call, they’re busy, about to go out, someone is on their way over or, you leave a message and it takes them three weeks to return your call and that’s only after you’ve messaged or texted them three times to see if they got your message.

Or, there’s the elderly neighbor you’ve helped so many times with everything from shopping to fixing things to rides to doctor’s appointments and just about every other daily need that they have had but, you ask if you can trim a 10 foot long branch from a tree in their backyard that’s overhanging your patio, dropping leaves into your dinner plate during an outdoor dinner and they go bezerk, ranting and raving like a lunatic for 15 minutes straight that you’re going to ruin their property if you trim it back a foot or two so, you end up having to move your table instead.

I don’t know if it’s just me or whether it’s that the world of Karma is simply against me but, whatever it is, I’ve had my Aha moment recently on this topic and the lesson has been learned.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to continue being a do-gooder.  It seems that the more doors you hold open, the more there are to be slammed in your face.  The more people you help, the more is expected from you and taken for granted.  The nicer you are to people, the more you’re looked upon as a doormat and the more you give, the less you have for yourself.  That goes for anything you have to give.

As Einstein has said, if you’re doing the same things and expecting a different reaction, you’re insane.

I think I’ve gained some sanity because I’m not answering my door or my phone, bypssing those asking for change and help and, the next one who asks to go ahead of me in the grocery store…wears the pie I’ve got in my cart home on their head!

Wonder if Einstein’s theory of relativity works for relatives too?