Why do we do it?

@arkaf61 (10882)
Canada
August 11, 2008 7:27pm CST
It seems to be human nature and everyone seems to do it a bit at least once in a life time. Yet, it makes no sense and it doesn't necessarily bring anything positive. I'm talking about this thing people tend to have about wanting to help so much that sometimes there is an involvement in other people's problems that is not healthy. OK in balance it's completely normal and expected. We know someone, that person has a problem we try to help. But some people go to extremes getting so involved that they feel the weight of the problem as if it was theirs. Worse yet they then start trying to solve it according to their own perspectives that sometimes are not the same as the ones of the person that they're trying to help. Getting the other person frustrated and even angry. I have a friend like that.SHe's a wonderful person. ANd always ready to help. But she sees other people's problems as her own and gets so worked out about them that they really take a toll on her.Then if that wasn't enough she tries to offer solutions that can really be helpful for the person in question with only one problem: those solutions are what she would do, not necessarily what the other person would do.IN the end she is exhausted and frustrated, the other person is frustrated and angry and sometimes the friendship is lost. I am one of the people that is always ready to help, but I make sure that it is understood that I don't own the problem, it is not my problem, and I try hard not to make assumptions or try to create solutions according to my own perspectives. I have to know where the person is coming from what what is really bothering the person because my perspectives don't have to be the same as the person I am trying to help. What about you? WHen you try to help someone, do you end up owning the problem? Do you end up actually seeing the problem as it would be for you instead of what it is for the other person?
6 people like this
15 responses
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
12 Aug 08
There have actually been pyschological studies conducted regarding behaviours like this.The question posed is in relation to whether people behave this way because it subliminally makes them feel better about themselves. You don't have to focus in on your own inadequacies if your energies are spent throwing yourself in the middle of other people's problems do you? As the saying goes - "Charity begins at home". I too am prepared to try to help others but I am also aware of the distances I must keep and of my own life as well! And we all need to also understand that people aren't always seeking answers; sometimes they just want someone to LISTEN. Us men are particularly bad at getting this! As far as we are concerned we just have to fix EVERYTHING! lol.
@coffeebreak (17820)
• United States
12 Aug 08
CLosest I come and have learned to not do it anymore, is with my grown kids. They have a problem and I try to help them fix it. Offer suggestions, things I have learned, tell them learn from my experience, try this or that. Problem was that they only told me parts of the problem. Not all the gorey details. So although I was trying to help them, what I was doing was hindering and annoying them until it got to the point they seldom told me anything! I was so overwhelming they couldn't deal with me and the problem! My daughter was going through a divorce and other related issus, and I'd email her my thoughts etc. Finally she just email me back one day - literally hit me in the face like a brick - "mom, stop trying to help. You are stressing me out more than Matt is!" (Matt is her X). That brick hit hard, but it didn't take me long to understand what she was trying, albeit nicely, to say and why she was saying it. I was reacting to the couple parts she would tell me, and not knowing the WHOLE story, making desicions or suggestions. I learned the hard way,but when I saw what I was doing was hurting my kids, it didn't take me long to learn how to stop, and let them live their own lives, make their own decisions, even if I thought they were wrong decisions! It is their life, they have to live with the consequences of their own actions - good or bad. Is it painful to love to much? Yes, very painful. But in the end, it is worth it on both sides.
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
Yes, Yes! I understand you fully. ANd it's true, sometimes we really really want to help. We love them that much. But as much as they tell us something they rarely tell the whole thing, and even when they do it's with some holes here and there.Amd this is people who we love and love us back. Now when it's someone with even less links to us we probably will get even less information...
1 person likes this
@jaffna (778)
• India
12 Aug 08
it's really a difficult one...me too have been under pressure and have taken wrong opinions and later on i have felt learn a lesson...when it's our problem,i can give assurance that only we can solve it rather than frustrating others....
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
I believe it's ok to try to help specially if the person asks for help. But we need to keep things in perspective - in the other person's perspective. But you're right, in the end only the person can solve it.
1 person likes this
@jillhill (37383)
• United States
12 Aug 08
I don't want to own anyone else's problems....I am ready to listen and try to give an objective idea in which to solve the problem but it's really up to them as to what they want to do...And sometimes when you just listen that is enough..for when they are telling you about what is bugging them sometimes they can hear the solution for themselves. I find that.....if I vent to someone I can hear what I need to do.
2 people like this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
Yes, that is the balanced way to do it. And yes often just listen to someone helps a lot because when people let things out they can see their problems from other perspectives. It's when people get so involved in helping that they actually start seeing the problem from their own point a view that we run into problems sometimes.
1 person likes this
@Wyldrose (1216)
• United States
12 Aug 08
No, I don't ever feel like I "own" their problem but am there to offer help and support if they need it. I have a friend now who is going through a lot and she complains to me almost every day. I finally just broke down yesterday and told her what I think she needs to do. She won't take action on her own,rather she lets people walk all over her. I let this go on for a while now, but it just all came to a head and she just needed that extra push. I think she'll be ok now...hopefully..
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
Exactly. It's actually easier to help if our head is clear and not inside the problem, we can be more objective that way. Sure we can shake the person if we feel that what is needed, but it's important to make sure it really is what the person needs and not what we will need.
@Wyldrose (1216)
• United States
12 Aug 08
Right...and that's what I did with my friend. The final decision is hers but giving her that extra push helped I think.
1 person likes this
@gabs8513 (48715)
• United Kingdom
12 Aug 08
No I don't think I do not to that extened the only time I do is when it comes to my Children and that is because they need me to calm them and to help them and the way I see it my Children their Problem is my Problem with Friends it is different, as you need to realize that the Friend might not want you that deep involved she just needed to talk and ask for support not help just support
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
Sure twin, when it's with our children we tend to own the problem too, we want to fix it and we want our kids not to have to go through any rough patches. You are very right. But with other people I tend to tread lightly. The thing is she's usually a very rational person, both as a person and as a professional. It's just this small thing that she doesn't seem to know when to stop and think. I've seen her more worried about someone's problems than the people in question:)
@Elixiress (3893)
12 Aug 08
I am one of those people that loads of people talk to when they have problems and ask me to do a little bit of fishing or sorting and then the other person in the problem is all "keep your nose out of my business, it has nothing to do with you" but in my eyes since the other person got me involved it is my business. Most the time I prefer to sort out my own problems as I think it reflects better on my character as someone who is confident, but some people cannot do that and they need a middle man or woman.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
Yes, that happens to me as well. But I am very careful on how and when to intervene, because sometimes people want no more than just someone to listen - not someone to charge away on a crusade about the wrong problem :) I sure like to help if asked for help, but I am helping someone with their problem, not turning it into my problem. And I make sure I don't mix my own idea of what the problem is with what really is bothering the person. Sometimes those are two different things.
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
12 Aug 08
When I try to help, I try to get from that friend what they need from me, in essence what do they need me to provide if I can. If it's just an ear and a shoulder, that's what I do, sometimes it is a ride, sometimes it is $20, sometimes it is to be told they were right, or they were wrong. I know exactly what you mean by this and I have been frustrated too by friends who struggle but their perspectives are simply different. You can't make somebody do something, as much as you wish you could, even if it would be better for them and make them happy - unless THEY want to do it. If I give advice and can only offer what I would do, then I make sure to tell the friend or person that it's 'what I would do' and not necessarily the right decision for them to make since they aren't me. It can give them a perspective though and an idea if they had no idea what to do at all.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
Yes. It is quite natural to try to help someone we care about, but it is important to know what it is that the person actually needs and what part of the situation is affecting that person.
@drannhh (15241)
• United States
12 Aug 08
This discussion seems to be bordering on the parable about you give a man (sic) a fish...etc. So you have probably figured out where I would go with that one, but have you noticed that some people are as you describe with soap operas or they get overly involved with sports teams or whatever. One would guess they do this to try to fill a void in their own lives. Many who are overzealous in helping others really need to help themselves instead..and not to other people's problems.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
Yes, I wonder about the void thing as well. ANd I wouldn't even say a word if it wasn't for the fact that after they come and complain how exhausted they are for the other person's problem..huh? Yes, teaching to fish would certainly help more :):)
@fwangaa (3058)
• China
12 Aug 08
i don't want to have any friend again. if i have many friend i will spend a lot of time together with them.and i don't want to waste my time.and i will not study something from them. i must not to help one of them.why i must hlep them.i need help from one of them.i must live longer.i need help for work.thanks for you help to provide a work for me. i am chinese.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
I understand and yes studying is very important for our future, our life. It's ok to have friends but we need to keep the more important things first, and studying is one of them. Keep up the good work.
1 person likes this
@micpie94 (358)
• United States
12 Aug 08
To be honest, I am not sure how I respond when helping other people with their problems. I'll have to wait 'till I help someone so I can properly answer this question.
1 person likes this
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Aug 08
True. it helps that one is there in order to get an idea of how to go about it.
@ahgong (10064)
• Singapore
13 Aug 08
I guess it all boils down to the character of the person. They think that they got the best answers to everything. Most times, they have such thoughts out of goodwill. Without realizing that they have overstepped their boundary as a friend or an outsider to the issue at hand. Just let them know your feelings. Tell them you appreciate their concern. And that you would prefer to solve the issue yourself. Right now, you only need a listening ear. If you really need their help, you would be more than happy to ask for it. If the person is really concern, he or she should know when to back off.
12 Aug 08
I listen and am objective, I am not the type of person to take over when someone has a problem. But I will always be there for someone if they need something and make sure they know that. I know most people don't want someone to interfere in their lives so I let my friend do what they want and support them if they need me.
1 person likes this
@cbreeze (1207)
• United States
12 Aug 08
I really try not to get into other people's problems unless they ask for my help. And even then, I try to keep my assistance at a minimum because I think you can become a crutch instead of a help. If you do to much, people start to lean on you everytime something is wrong instead of search for solutions on their own. I probably get more personally involved if it is my child, sibling or parent. Again, even then I try not to allow myself to obsess over anyone elses problems. I think if you notice yourself carrying the pain that comes along with their problem, it is definitely time to back off.
1 person likes this
• Sweden
12 Aug 08
I dont own the personĀ“s problem but i try to help as i can but then if it not work out then it not my problem anymore as long as i do my best to help that people.We have different point of you,other people they own the others problem and i felt sad about it.Because first of all its not there problem and they get stress with others problem.
1 person likes this