How Do I Stop Enabling? Finding The Right Time To Help

Here are a few simple rules I go by for helping other people. I’m guessing you are also the kind of person who thinks about what works to help other people in your life. Healthy people have boundaries, especially when it comes to helping other people. For me, it is also harder to apply than the crusading, rampaging help that I thought was how you helped people. You throw it all in to help someone and when invariably they stop deserving it, you just dessert them.

I have a few simple rules for helping people. This gives me healthy boundaries and allows me to make good decisions about what kind of help I can offer.

The first one is to not do anything for someone that they could do themselves. For example, if someone have the ability to buy food for themselves, why would I buy food for them? If they’ve got money that they could use to buy food, then why would I take money out of my pocket to buy it for them? If someone has the ability to drive to a meeting somewhere, why would I give them a ride there? If someone has the ability to walk, then why wouldn’t they walk there?

Lots of times when I thought I was helping someone, I was enabling them. I’d been giving them the ability to be a worst version of themselves and use me. By use me, I mean I allowed someone to get something from me that they didn’t need from me. People get money, time, or energy that they didn’t really need. If they didn’t have me providing that, they would’ve been forced to do better themselves.

I often would try to step in and tell people what to do so that’s a second rule – don’t give unsolicited advice. Rather, practice your own advice. Lead by example. Who likes unsolicited advice? No one. That’s why I create my Youtube videos showing you things I’m doing and practicing with myself. You don’t need to do anything I’m telling you about. If you see something I’m doing in my life that’s useful, you can simply take it. Lead by example rather than give unsolicited advice.

A lot of people say “do as I say, not as I do” and what I practice today  is do as I do and what I say will follow what I do. I’m doing my best today to lead by example and then all I have to do is talk about what I’m doing. Talking about what you’re doing is easy. Trying to tell someone else what to do is difficult. I don’t know what you need to do and every situation is a little bit different. I try to have rules that work for me to help me figure out what the right thing is for me to do.

The first rule and the second rule work together to go into the third rule. The third rule is don’t do anything I don’t want to do. That builds up resentment. That’s not help, that’s manipulation. Someone can call me up and say “Jerry, would you like to come and do this for an hour every week?” If I don’t want to do that, then my answer is no. “Jerry, will you teach a course on this subject?” If I don’t want to make a course on that, then my answer is no. I’m not going to do that. I often would try to jump into situations in that scenario and it cost me a lot.

“Jerry would you help me move?” I damn well didn’t want to help the person that asked me to move. I was trying to  build a favor so I can ask something later. I often would do that if someone was a boss or in a position of authority. I tried to get in and did something I don’t want to do so I could build a favor I could call in later that would work out for me. Once, I ended told a professor that I would help her move. Then I got drunk until 8:30 in the morning and I was supposed to help her at 10:30. I just texted someone that wasn’t even her to say I didn’t feel very good. After 12 – 16 hours of drinking, obviously you wouldn’t feel very good. I canceled at the last minute. Everyone would’ve been better off if I said no, I don’t want to help you move.

I practice that in my life today. “Jerry do you want to do this interview with me?” No, I don’t. I have a lot of things that already have been given to me by my follower’s suggestions or by students. I know what I need to do today. If I take something else on, then I have to kick something out. I don’t want to do an interview instead of spending time with my wife or daughter or friends or family. I have a very limited amount of availability.

That rolls into the fourth rule which is give what you want to get. When you give what you want to get, things are very simple. When I want to help someone, I did things in my life that often I didn’t want done back to me. I would put harsh conditions on my help. I would say I’ll help someone if they did several things for me. That’s not a good way to go about helping others. Either you want to do it or you don’t and that especially helps me to practice the other rules. This helps me lead by example. I don’t want anyone ever again to give me do as I say not as I do advice. When I give what I want to get, I notice I get a lot less of what I don’t like back. I’m in a relationship with my wife and daughter now. If I want a bunch of crap then I’d give them crap. Often the people that I tried to help the most are also the ones I have given the most of what I didn’t want to get back.

If you put all four of these rules together in a negative situation, it turns into a nightmare. If you’re saying do as I do, that works out well. If you’re saying do as I say, not as I do and you’re trying to help in a way that you don’t want to and you’re doing something the person doesn’t need you to do, what you think is a situation where you’re helping is a situation where you’re hurting. In my life, especially with relationships, family, and friends I’ve tried to be helpful and all I’ve been is hurtful.

I thought I was doing something good, especially in my business online, but I wasn’t. I tried to act like I was helping a client when all I was doing was taking their money and not treating them well. I got a lot of that back so I’ve learned the hard way on a lot of these things. I talk about it so I don’t’ have to keep doing it the hard way today. It’s hard sometimes to respect yourself because you want to jump off and be a great savior or hero. I find today the best way I can be a hero and a savior is to do a good job with what I’ve already been given to do.

For example my mom is having a hard time today. If I go off and try to help her, I have to leave my wife and my daughter behind without me. My wife already has a lot to do with our 5-month-old daughter. She’s still working and that means she has to impose on her parents if I’m not around. I have responsibilities to you. I have responsibilities in my support group and I have responsibilities to be a good friend. If I was to go off and be a good friend I have to drop every responsibility I have in my life. When I am in the position where mom comes to me with things she can do herself, it’s challenging to stick by the rules. I have the urge to be the crusader and go into that unhealthy helping situation. I don’t want to enter a situation where I’m doing something I don’t want to do, I’m not living by example, I’m trying to change someone else or I’m doing things for someone that they can do for themselves.

It’s tempting, but talking about these things helps me to make better decisions. It’s hard to see people around you suffer and struggle. It’s harder to get in the middle of their mess and make it worse. You’ve got to clean up your own messes. I have to clean up my own messes and when I’m open and ask for help, I can receive it. If I try to jump into other people’s mess when it’s not good for me and not good for them. I can end up being in the mess there with them way easier than I can help pull them out of the mess.

Today I pray to remember my limitations and rules when it comes to helping people. I pray to remember when it’s difficult in a sense of being a family member or friend or someone I care about. I hope to remember that they are just as they should be now and I don’t need to change them. I pray that you have the same opportunity to apply anything you found that is useful and discard anything you don’t need. Thank you for reading this and I hope you have a great day today.