Today, I’m throwing together some personal thoughts on when it’s okay to stop helping someone. I’m in a dark place tonight and am giving myself permission to let go. I need to focus on me and heal.
Long story short, I got into another completely unnecessary, but nonetheless very real and unpleasant fight with my mother today. She’s been verbally abusive to me for over a year now and I’ve decided it’s finally time to walk away from her toxicity.
My mother has many demons (mental, physical, financial) and projects her pain and unhappiness onto me because she can’t with anyone else. It’s the curse I bear for being “close” to her.
“Hurt People Hurt People”
As part of my healing process, I want to talk about why and when it’s okay to stop helping someone.
Knowing when to let go of lending your support for someone you care deeply about can be a delicate and challenging process. It’s rarely something you can decide quickly or do all at once. Life is complicated. People and personalities are even more complicated.
Figuring out when it’s okay to step back from helping someone, or walk away altogether, often requires a balance between compassion you feel for them and maintaining your own well-being. I know this all too well in regards to my mother. I care about her so much, which is why I’ve been helping her for so long, but the side effects are negatively affecting me too much.
So if there’s someone in your life that you’ve been supporting out of love, but the cost is hurting you too much, or them too for that matter, you’re not alone. And it’s okay to stop.
Further reading: Make The Most of What You Have in the Moment
When It’s Best To Stop Helping Someone
You may be totally unsure of what to do in your own situation, or are struggling with the guilt of giving yourself permission to let go. I’ve been there. It’s not a good place to be. I came so close to walking away from my mother many times, but the guilt was too consuming.
To help you navigate through your own complex situation, here are some reasons to consider when deciding when it’s okay to stop helping someone:
Lack of Reciprocity
If the person you are helping consistently shows little or no appreciation, gratitude, or reciprocation for your efforts, your relationship has become one-sided.
Healthy relationships, whether personal or professional, thrive on mutual support and respect. Without it, they wilt.
If your efforts to help someone are consistently undervalued or taken for granted, it may be time to reassess the dynamic or cut ties.
Repeated Boundary Violations
Healthy relationships require mutual respect in regards to maintaining good boundaries. Is the person you are helping continually crosses boundaries you established?
Some ways they may do this could include manipulative behavior, constant dependence, or flat out disrespect for your personal space and time. If that’s the case, it’s probably a sign that they don’t respect your efforts.
Ask yourself if you really want to stay in a relationship where the other person doesn’t respect you. Chances are the answer is no. Recognizing and maintaining healthy boundaries is essential for your well-being. And yes, your mental health really matters!
Unwillingness to Help Themselves
Is the person you are helping taking any steps to help themselves or address the underlying issues contributing to their challenges? If not, your continuous support may just be enabling rather than empowering.
Encouraging personal responsibility and self-help is crucial for long-term growth and independence. If they show zero initiative or willingness to improve their situation, it’s probably time to step back.
Constantly providing support to someone who is facing ongoing challenges can be SO emotionally draining. Not only that it can be insanely time consuming.
If you find yourself constantly feeling exhausted, stressed, or overwhelmed due to the demands of helping someone, please press pause. You have to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being or your own life could end up falling apart. There’s no point in both of you going under.
Plus, if you don’t address burn out now, you won’t be able to help others in the long run, which is something you probably would like to do in good circumstances.
Toxic or Harmful Behavior
If the person you are assisting engages in toxic or harmful behavior, whether towards themselves, you, or others, it’s crucial to evaluate the impact of your involvement.
Continuing to support someone who exhibits destructive behavior without seeking professional help may not be in their best interest or yours. Recognizing the limitations of your support is essential in such situations.
Clear Signs of Manipulation
If you observe signs of manipulation, deceit, or exploitation in a relationship, it’s a red flag. Some individuals may take advantage of others’ kindness and willingness to help.
If you notice consistent manipulative behavior, it’s crucial to reevaluate your involvement. Consider whether your assistance is genuinely helping or just perpetuating unhealthy dynamics.
Related reading: A Lack Of Emotional Intelligence Is Costing You A Fortune
Personal Growth and Change
People evolve, life happens, and circumstances change. On a positive note, the person you’ve been helping may have made significant progress, achieved stability, or no longer requires the level of help you’ve been providing.
If so, it might be a natural time to reassess your role. Recognizing and celebrating their growth is a huge win and a sign that all of your help and support has been effective.
You Both Decide When It’s Okay To Stop Helping Someone
In conclusion, determining when it’s okay to stop helping someone takes both a lot of thought and observation. First, there are lots of things to carefully consider in regards to the overall dynamics of your relationship.
Second, balancing empathy with self-care is essential to ensure that your assistance is genuinely beneficial and sustainable for both of you.
Third, actions speak louder than words. What do their behavior and words, or lack thereof, indicate? Are your efforts and time well received, taken for granted, or simply not needed anymore?