There are a ton of ways to help people.
And you can never be sure which one is the best way to help them.
Someone might need food, you could buy them food. Someone doesn’t understand how to solve a problem, you can help them solve it. And so on..
But, again, what’s the best kind of help? What’s the best way to help someone who needs food? What’s the best way to help someone who has a problem but doesn’t know how to solve it?
I had a brief, but meaningful thought about ‘the best kind of help’. I think there are 2 main kinds of help:
Type 1: When you help someone based on what you think they need, utilizing your abilities to help them.
Type 2: When you help someone help themselves.
And there are other types too:)
Type 1 is needed a lot of the time, as there are things we all need help with that we have no idea about. Ideally, the person seeking help is crystal clear about what it is they need help with! This takes time to figure out too:) But it’s a lot easier for someone who wants to help you to know what you need help with.
In all humility, I think things can go awry with type 1 help, particularly in deeper, more personal matters. Someone helps you solve a problem you have, and that’s it, the ‘help’ is delivered. The person being helped gets the help they need, and move on. But they still remain ‘helpless’ in the matter they were helped with. For example, if someone didn’t know how to cook pasta, you could cook pasta for them to help them, but that person still doesn’t know how to make pasta!! They’ll continue to ask you for your help in making pasta. This kind of help creates a dependence between the person who is helping and the person who received the help, leading to an unhealthy relationship in the long term.
Type 2 is when you help someone help themselves. All the answers to all our problems (well, most of them) lie within us. So if you really want to help someone, why not help them help themselves, and solve their own problem, based on the insights and answers they have within themselves? That creates zero dependence and also leads to a more mutually beneficial outcome in the long run.
So basically, if your friend doesn’t know how to make pasta, don’t just always make the pasta for them. But, help them learn how they could learn to make pasta, and they’ll probably appreciate you more for it, having learned something new. Unless of course, they’re OK with never learning how to make Pasta and are happy to be ‘blindly lead’ by your help!
We all need a combination of Type 1 & Type 2 help but with Type 1, it would be in everyone’s favour if the helper declared by they’re delivering Type 1 help so the helper and the helped are in sync!
So: Help yourself, help another, help yourself help you, seek help to help yourself better and you’ll feel a lot more helpful than helpless!
Disclaimer: Don’t put yourself in jeopardy while trying to help. Look after yourself!