Don’t get me wrong, making a conscious effort to be a better person is the best thing I could have done, but sometimes there is an unintended downside. This brings me to a very important distinction of helping others v. fixing others. Of course, I’m not saying that we should stop trying to be better people and help others, but we may have to be more mindful of the way we come across. Let me explain.
Once we do things to improve our lives, we realize just how much better we are off than before. Then, when we see other people struggling with the things we used to struggle with, there is an immediate instinct to help them “see the light”. But trying to fix other people can often have the opposite effect. We have to know the difference between helping and fixing. It is a delicate balance between putting your best foot forward and offering guidance or help to a friend or a colleague who you see is struggling with an issue you personally used to struggle with. Below I discuss a delicate dance between helping those you care about or just being a good samaritan versus being meddlesome and overstepping even when you have the best of intentions.
1. Offer to help, not fix
If you are a naturally caring person, it is obvious that you would want to help others. However, if you put yourself in the shoes of others, you will see that what feels like caring advice may not be seen as such. Even if you just want to change something small in others, there is a good chance that they will feel that you see yourself as better than them.
2. Give them space
You have probably heard the old wisdom that one should learn from other’s mistakes, because there isn’t enough time to make all the mistakes yourself. Well, I just don’t think that humans are put together that way. Just think of the all the biggest lessons you have learned in your life. Most of them came from the mistakes you made, right? Sometimes the people around you also just need to make the mistakes themselves and learn from them. The best you can do is to be there for them when don’t turn out the way they hoped.
3. Don’t forget about yourself!
While it is always great to help others, we should also keep in mind that just fixing ourselves is a lifelong project. I know a few people who are so involved with helping others that they often forget to fix the things in their own lives. I think there is a reason for this – and a lesson. Fixing other people’s problems seems easy to most of us, but fixing our own problems sometimes seems like the biggest mountain to climb. That is why we should always have the courage to face our problems head-on. Perhaps, by being fearless with our own problems, and setting an example, we can help other people fix their problems way better than by meddling in their lives. In addition, we should be mindful that other people’s problems also look like mountains to them, and by suggesting quick fixes, we don’t acknowledge what they are going through.
Finally, I think that the best way to help those around us is to offer our friends both compassion and advice when they need it. Usually, a lot of the former, and only very little of the latter.