“I WANT to help people and to be HAPPY about it, so what the heck?!” my friend lamented to me, regarding a situation that had started as a genuine desire to help and now seemed to be spiralling into a cycle of being taken advantage of.
“There is a difference between helping people and being used” I replied.
So how do we determine just where to draw the line? How do we decide when enough is enough? How do we help others without feeling like a doormat and without being used? Funny that this would be the post to follow the one on compassion…
But it is so easy to find ourselves in a situation where we are feeling used and abused, when that was never our intention. Our intention was to provide genuine help for a friend, family member, or acquaintance in need; to extend compassion to our fellow human beings. Yet once the situation has gone from well intended help to resentful usery, how do we tactfully draw the line in the sand and set boundaries saying “no more”? Especially when we are hitting the point where we are depleted, ready to explode and just want to tell the offending party to fuck themselves.
Sadly I am writing this blog with absolutely no idea what the answers to the questions are. I mean seriously, how does one go about diplomatically telling some-one “you are using me and I am ready to lose it, so enough is enough!” Hhhmmmm… maybe that is exactly how, to just state it as it is and refuse to be used any longer. This is where I must confess that conflict and confrontation are my two biggest weaknesses (I could almost go so far as to say my biggest fears), I DO NOT deal well with them at all, and will try to avoid them at all cost which is why I sometimes find myself in this situation. Sadly I WILL wait till I have had enough and then resort to telling the offender to fuck right off. Tactful, huh?
So do we set boundaries right away when the help process begins? And are those boundaries something set between ourselves, private and not stated to the other person, invisibly drawn in the sand? Do we use avoidance tactics hoping that they will get the hint? Or do we say right at the beginning “I am helping you with this one situation and then you are on your own”? That feels so harsh.
Is there a way to determine ahead of time which people will take a mile once given an inch? Can one establish who the genuine ones in need are? I don’t think so. Sadly just as some people are natural givers, some people are natural users they will take anything you are willing to give and always ask for more, never satisfied, sucking your very life energy from you, and they always seem so shocked when you’ve had enough and pull the plug. But how do we judge this? I know no man’s heart; I cannot determine where they have been or where they are coming from just by looking at them. I have no way of knowing if they are in need because they have had a shitty go of things or if it is because they refuse to help themselves and so are there by choice.
I suppose all one can do is weigh each situation separately. Taking each opportunity to help at a time, knowing we will win some, and loose some. Being prepared to have to set boundaries with some people, knowing we will never need them with others. And always keeping a positive outlook, understanding that what goes around truly does come around.
Well I suppose that is my rant for the day…