Saturday 20 June 2020

When help isn't help anymore

I’m sure you’ve heard about how it’s during the difficult times that you find out who your real friends are. These are the ‘ideal’ friends that don’t throw in the friendship towel when the going gets tough, the ones who are prepared to fight a fight that has very little or even nothing to do with them.

Perhaps in an ideal world these are the only friends we surround ourselves with and, in turn, become that type of friend for these people as well. Unfortunately while these theories are plausible, I don’t think that they would work in practice without a very controlled environment and accompanying variables. Stating the obvious – we are unique in every single way possible. No, I’m not trying to push ‘we are all different’ and ‘we all matter’ cards. Factually, we are all different and these are the variables that cause the ‘problem’ in the proposed scenario mentioned previously.

I’m going slightly off topic so let’s get back to the point I originally wanted to make. I had a thought about the concept of the ideal friend that backs you up during the tough times and what sparked my curiosity was how this act could actually be damaging to both parties in the long term.

I think it’s a good thing to give up on people.

There, I said it. In (literally) black and white. Now the sentence may be a bit click-bait but I think that after a certain point, the good of helping becomes bad. Very bad. Help is a finite thing I think (time and resource constraint) and as there’s only so much you can give, once you have exhausted your help resource and your friend does not respond to it and continues in their rut, what is the point of continuing further? Emotion may dictate that you should not give up on this person but logic will say that if all of your help has not been enough so far, why would they suddenly respond to it?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Anonymous

The above quote is commonly misattributed to Albert Einstein but records and research don’t really prove that it was him, or anyone else specifically, that coined the phrase but that is beside the point right now. I just like to (try to) be accurate.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” 
– Jessie Potter (1981)

Another quote and when paired with the previous one, illustrates the scenario perfectly to me. To try and help is useless in the long run if the one you are trying to help is refusing to change and adapt. That’s a no-win situation for everyone involved.

From the point of view of the helper, I would say that learning how to give up on someone is a strength and a positive. If you consider that person a friend yet are able to give up on them I think that counts as personal evolution. Sometimes continuing to help someone is the worst thing you can do, despite the intentions. I’m not saying to never help but to know when to stop helping.

Don’t be the lifeguard that gets drowned by the person they are rescuing. Giving up isn't always a bad thing.

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