Are You a Compulsive Helper?

Living & Giving

A few weeks ago, I read an article by Diane Spechler in O, The Oprah Magazine about compulsive helpers and how to get past that. I thought, “What in the world is a compulsive helper and how is it a bad thing?” However, as I read the article, it became very clear what was wrong with that approach in life. Here’s an excerpt of the article:

I rushed home with a familiar flutter of excitement, and wrote an e-mail introducing my friend to her newest client: “You two will work beautifully together!” I promised.

Without explanation, my friend never followed up.

Three weeks and two unanswered text messages later, I called her and got no response. Then I stared at my silent phone as if it had betrayed me. To my alarm, I found myself gulping back tears. That’s when I had to admit that I suffered from a ludicrous disease: chronic helping tic. No, it’s not an official psychological affliction, but it should be.

I inherited CHT from my mother. My sister might have a touch of it, too. Honestly, so do at least half the women I know.

Symptoms include doling out unsolicited advice, playing matchmaker, doing other people’s networking for them, and approaching strangers to whisper, “Your bra strap’s showing.”

Sound familiar? If you are always volunteering to do X and blindly (and randomly) offering to help anyone with anything, then you probably have some type of helping problem. I know a couple of these people and I don’t know how they do it! I assist strangers every now and then and offer to help friends with things, but I don’t feel compelled to do so. There’s a fine line between being a cheerful giver and having a slight disorder.
Don’t just take my word for it. In the article, Sue Patton Thoele, a psychotherapist and author, explains that there is a difference between butting in and helping out.
Butting in: A product of the giver’s sense of righteousness or insecurity, which is neither wanted nor appreciated by the receiver.
Helping out: A gift that comes from the heart. 
In some situations, there is a fine line between the two concepts but for the most part, we all know on which side of the fence our actions rest. As women, we have an innate sense to be nurturing and take care of others so generational training has lead us to think that some level of “butting in” is okay…acceptable even. But, as this article pointed out, the urge to help others can control us and morph into a compulsion. If you think you have a helping problem, I encourage you to check out this article. It is a great read that paints the situation with a very realistic (and sometimes) funny brush! Click here to read the full thing!
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1 Comment

  • Reply
    flyer printing
    July 23, 2011 at 2:24 am

    I think I’m not that compulsive at all but I do help its just sometimes especially if I had a lot on my mind I usually cant notice people that needs help. And I hate it when I’ve been insensitive to take a hand for those who needs one.

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