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comment by goobster
goobster  ·  2949 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: I'm done helping those "in need"

You have gotten to a powerful place.

We can't help everyone. We can't even help most people. Because most people don't actually want help, or can't process it when they get it.

In my Burningman community, one of the principles is "Gifting". The idea of giving someone something they need, without expectation of anything in return.

This is surprisingly hard for people to do, actually.

The giving part is easy. People give other people things every day.

But the receiving of a gift turns out to be where most humans fail. Their immediate reaction is to give something in return, rather than to accept the gift. This changes the interaction from one of GIVING to a TRANSACTION. An exchange in equity, which distracts from the usefulness of your help, and sidetracks the receiver.

(There's also some self-reflection you can do about your style of "helping". Are you trying to "fix" someone, or are you actually giving them the help they can actually use and consume, right now, in their current headspace, etc? Just something to think about...)

I burned out on helping people in the past, too. But I go back, because I find people who are genuinely looking for guidance, support, help, and I get better and better at weeding out the complainers from the people who are actively working to make a change in their lives.

Be with yourself for a while. You get satisfaction from helping, so you will come back to it eventually. Be well.

user-inactivated  ·  2949 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you for your kind words and your bit of guidance.

How do you distinguish those who actually seek help? It seems to me that I've never met such people, and if I have, I've missed or ignored them.

goobster  ·  2948 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's an art, not a science.

We all know people who always have some drama in their life. Don't bother with them. This is how they define themselves, and without drama they would be at a total loss.

There is no prescription for who is deserving/desirous of your help. It's like... there are some homeless people you give money/food/attention to, and there are others you don't. It's a gut feeling, and it can be surprising how smart your gut is.

And, like archery or badminton or woodworking, helping people is a skill set that you hone over time. But keep doing it. Keep learning.

And take a break sometimes to take care of yourself. You are letting people drink from your well, and if you don't take time to replenish that well, it'll run dry.

cgod  ·  2949 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Why do people say thank you in response to thank you? Why don't they say your welcome? Drives me crazy.

goobster  ·  2946 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The real answer to your question is, "Because most people are uncomfortable with silence, and therefore fill the space between you and them with words."

But it could also be one-upmanship.

You say, "Thank you."

They reply, "No, thank YOU!"

Isherwood  ·  2949 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'd add there's some gradation when you get into the idea of giving people what they need.

I like to give my time to help people and was once at a breaking point like ThatFanficGuy. I realized that I wasn't fed up "giving people what they need" I was fed up giving people what they asked for.

Most of the time people wanted to play "poor me" and would jump from ear to sympathetic ear playing their part. The problem was that no one ever won this game. The people who needed help only felt better when they were acknowledged as the victim, but that feeling didn't last long and they never had reason to play any other part.

So I started giving people what I thought they needed. I gave them what I had to give and didn't offer to fake what they wanted. For the most part, it works better - people get something more honest and more human from me, and in return I feel I'm living up to the potential I have inside. It's not draining, it's invigorating.

(I should say, not every victim is playing "poor me", but if you pay attention it's not too hard to tell who is.)

goobster  ·  2948 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Totally. "Poor me" is a thing that keeps people going. They don't know who they are or how to define themselves, except by the "wrongs" they suffer at the hands of the world.

But there are others that are just disaster magnets. I know two of them, and have just blanked them out of my life. I feel incredibly bad for them, but I am not going to stand next to a trailer park in tornado alley and hope for the best... I'm gonna fucking move to where tornadoes don't go, ya know?

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

This hits particularly close to home for me right now, as I watch someone continue their inevitable slide to suicide. For 7 or 8 years, the whole community has rallied around her and supported her through disaster after disaster. And now we watch helplessly as she plays out her final disaster.

It sucks. It sucks ass. But, as you get older, you see this pattern repeat in life, and you resign yourself to helping those you can, the best you can, and knowing when you can't help any more.