One of the most painful and frustrating things in life is watching people you care about go through tough times. This is especially harder when you have the answers to their problems and you feel that you are perfectly capable and qualified to help them but for some reason, you can’t seem to be able to help them despite your best intentions and your offer to help.

Ronald Reagan once said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone”. I’m one of those guys who’s always eager to help. Heck, I’ve been guilty to overstepping boundaries and throwing around unsolicited advice all in the name of “helping”. Yes, it comes from a good place but how I might have gone about it the past might not have made the other person feel open to accept my help.

I believe that the best way to help others is by as much as possible help them in their terms. What I mean is that give them as much or as little help as they need in a way that leaves them feeling empowered. If you try and help people based on your terms without trying to understand how they want to be supported, people with either get defensive and reject your help or take it begrudgingly and not do much with it.

Sometimes people are not ready to receive your help. It could be that they are too early in the process and they are trying to resolve things on your own or they probably need to feel safe and confident in asking for help and that you are the right person to help them. Some people are too stubborn or too proud to ask to receive hep. Usually, this is just a protective mechanism that people put on to avoid being disappointed. The best you can do is to keep the door open if your offer for help is not received with open hands.

Next time you want to help someone, unless if they are too far gone and you just need to intervene and “save them”, take a moment to understand what they really need and how they would like to be supported. Put aside your “solutions” and listen. Sometimes that’s all some people need. To be heard and understood. Once you understand what they need, maybe then you can get to work. Don’t be surprised if you are not the right person to help.

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