At some time in our lives, all of us face the issues and dilemmas of helping other people, responsibility, and enablement. Many times this comes from a friend or family member. Or sometimes we work in the social service field where we are in a people helping role. Other times we may be the person in need of help and we are asking ourselves where our responsibility starts and some else's helping hand begins.
The "Ins and Outs" of Friends, Family, and Serving Others
You may have heard the proposition by now of the fictitious situation of what it would be like if we lived in a world with no friends, family, or other people. This seems like a lonely life of social isolation to me. But because we are not perfect people, we all come with problems and challenges. These problems can be met with solutions through our own belief and action and maybe the help of others also. Or we may be trying to help someone else to meet their challenges. Working with others can be rewarding and fulfilling to both parties if both are committed to taking actions that lead to solutions.
"Free Riders," Demandingness, Excusemaking, and Blameshifting
The headache and problems begin when one person expects another to do all or most of the solution-producing work. Usually, this expectation is presented in a demanding or entitled mentality and attitude with some excuse-making and/or blameshifting mixed in. There is a saying that we either enable others in a positive way or a negative way. Let's explore what the difference is starting with the end objective.
Helping Others Help Themselves
The end objective is to enable or empower others to help themselves and learn and grow as a result. This is where rewards and positive teamwork and experiences lie.
The Role and Reason for Personal Boundaries
Personal boundaries protect our own identity as an individual or help us know where we end and the other person begins. For example, a friend may want us to do a particular task for them on a regular basis that we know they are capable of doing themselves. In the process, we can start getting so caught up in helping a friend that we lose sight of what we want daily and cause them to depend on us excessively.
Exceptions to the Rule of Thumb
There are always people who have genuine limitations and just need regular help and/ or extra understanding. Limitations come in many forms including physical, mental, emotional, etc. Having a positive experience with these people in our lives means accepting these limitations and helping where we can.
All relationships in our lives come with people who have challenges and problems. In order to keep the relationship healthy and really help the individual, we need to have clear personal boundaries and keep the objective in sight that we are helping them help themselves as much as possible. There are always exceptions to this rule and this means accepting others' true limitations and helping where we can.
Your Turn Now
So in thinking about the people in your life, who has true and genuine limitations and who needs to be encouraged to help themselves more? What specific actions can you take to help others with limitations as well as encourage others to learn, grow, and help themselves? Do you have clear personal boundaries to keep your individuality intact and to keep from enabling others to depend on you too much? Overall, how can you improve in the area of helping other people, responsibility, and enablement?