Woman comforts her friend who has covered her face with her hands and is crying

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Do we try to help too much?

Woman comforts her friend who has covered her face with her hands and is crying

Although I think there are many more women than men that suffer from this syndrome, I’m sure there are many men who have this problem too. Some psychologists are calling this the “Super Helper Syndrome”. These are people who have a compulsion to help others, often neglecting their own needs. It can cause serious damage over time and lead to burnout. 

Many of us learn this behavior in childhood. You need to learn why you have these beliefs. There are four questions to answer: Do you believe the people you are helping couldn’t get along without you? Do you have a need to help everyone you meet? Do you feel helping makes you a good person? Do you think your needs are unimportant? Exploring your answers to these questions can allow you to make more conscious choices to balance your care for others and yourself. 

Set boundaries. Sometimes our relationships lack balance. We are helping others and the help is not reciprocated. It’s okay to decide how and when you are going to help and decide whether this person is one who just takes and takes and never gives. Setting boundaries helps you reclaim your energy and time. 

Ask for help. This is one that I particularly have trouble with! Try asking for others to listen when you need to vent. Those who provide so much to others have trouble when they need someone themselves. 

Process and let go of guilt. It’s okay to say no! If you can’t manage that at least say, “I can’t right now but let’s work out a time when I can”. You don’t have to feel guilty when you are caring for yourself. Healthy helping is when you look after yourself as well as others.  

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago