Accompanying is a sign of generosity, but drowning in the pain of others is a lack of perspective. Helping others solve their problems is a sign of compassion, but putting their problems on our shoulders is useless. Living the emotions of others is a sign of empathy, letting them overwhelm us is useless and harmful.
There is a very fine line between helpful help and over-involvement that ends up being harmful to everyone. Knowing that limit - and not exceeding it - will allow us to help more and better, because we will be able to preserve our mental and emotional balance by giving the other person the opportunity to grow and learn from the experience.
When helping doesn't help
“Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for the rest of his life,” says a Chinese proverb. Offering a fish, in a metaphorical sense, means solving a specific problem, but in this way we are not helping to eradicate the circumstances and / or mistakes that caused that problem.
If the person is not working on the attitudes, beliefs or ways of thinking that contributed to the problem, this is likely to reappear, with more force. In this way, a vicious circle is created in which whoever solves problems is "forced" to carry more and more weight and whoever generates them frees himself more and more of his responsibilities.
When we become "problem solvers" and take on the responsibilities of others, it is likely that sooner or later we will be crushed under their weight. If we are unable to develop empathic worry, which involves the ability to understand and experience the emotional states of others, show genuine concern and be able to help them without compromising our psychological balance, we will end up suffering from Empathy Syndrome.
This means that we will be infected by the emotions of the person we intend to help, immersing ourselves in their frustration, anger or sadness. We will bring your worries upon us, which will cause us much anguish. In this state no one benefits. Because our lack of perspective to look beyond the current consequences of the problem, to get out of the situation and seek assertive solutions, condemns both of us to a common suffering in which the "savior" ends up needing to be saved.
Helping is not "solving" but "accompanying"
Too often we forget that helping does not mean solving, but rather accompanying and supporting. It is not a simple play on words. The meaning you give to the word "help" will determine your attitude and influence the results you get.
Undoubtedly, it is difficult to see a loved one struggling to solve a problem or even making "wrong" decisions. It is natural to want to help you. We want to make his life easier, solve his problems and spare him suffering. It sounds like an idyllic idea. Except when it isn't.
Because helping doesn't mean solving. It does not mean taking on the problems of others, nor does it mean relieving others of their responsibilities. Or to spare them the path they have to travel to grow as people.
To help is to accompany you along the way and to offer your support when necessary. It means supporting others in their decisions, even if we don't share them. It means helping them broaden their perspective when they can't find a solution. It means listening to them without criticizing. It means working with them to help them develop their tools to cope with life. And sometimes, helping also means stepping aside.