You Can’t Help If It Isn’t Really Wanted

07.01.2012 - His Hand

Article by Wendy McCance

Question: What do you do when someone needs assistance, asks you for help, but then, won’t do anything with the assistance provided?  

Answer: Nothing.

It is the most frustrating and quite frankly helpless feeling to see a friend, family member or even someone you barely know vent about their problems, ask for help and then do absolutely nothing when someone tries to lend a hand. Unfortunately, I have fallen into this situation multiple times and feel duped each time these situations pop up.  I take time to listen to someone complain or go above and beyond researching ways to help someone out of a bind only to have them turn their back and go on to the next poor soul ready to listen or help.

I’m just at a loss.  I have known people who have used me as a therapist, taking up hours of my time so they can talk about how they can’t come up with a solution or get out of a bind.  These are the people who don’t share the good times and become bored if other people try to share aspects of their own lives.  It’s a one way situation where they need attention and are selfish in not recognizing that they might be putting someone out with their own needs.

I have faced situations where I know someone is in dire straits, I will call in favors so they can get help or I will do research to help them get to a reasonable solution, and then — nothing.  There is no thank you or appreciation for what has been done for them.  The worst part is, they won’t act on anything that will get them out of their jam, it’s not part of their m.o.

Unless they are given the exact solution they are hoping for, they won’t attempt to make their life better.  It’s just too much work.  They are on a treadmill of doom and gloom and feel most comfortable there.  Their goal is to get an active audience of willing participants who will drop everything at a moments notice to comfort and provide for them.  Their idea of a solution is far from realistic and without incredible amounts of work on their part, will not happen unless someone comes along to take care of all their needs.

Question: What do you when you are aware that you will be spinning your wheels, wasting your time and stroking the ego of someone who won’t make a positive change?  

Answer: You realize that stepping back is not selfish on your part but a protective measure.  You give yourself the acceptance of knowing that nothing will change by lending a hand.  You take comfort in understanding that those people are good at pulling heartstrings and will find dozens of other people ready to take on the fruitless challenge.  

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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6 thoughts on “You Can’t Help If It Isn’t Really Wanted

  1. I have an old college friend (in another city) that fits this description perfectly. She will take up hours of my time on the phone, threatening suicide if someone doesn’t help her. She will say she has no food to eat, she needs a neighbor to get groceries for her. (When I found a home delivery grocery service, and forwarded the info to her, silence) I cut off communications for a while because I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Called her yesterday, just to check in (hoping things had changed) and she told me that she is planning suicide after her terminally ill dog dies. She’s only 58. So sad.

    • Hi Ann, I am so sorry you have experienced that. It’s such an awful hopeless feeling when you care and want to help, but you know it won’t do any good. Sounds like you have done all you can.

  2. I’m afraid that some people can get addicted to sympathy, injury &/or self-pity. If you could actually remove or solve their problem you would leave them with a void they couldn’t handle. If they didn’t need the pity-party, they probably would have found and activated their own solution.

    That said, I have to be careful because in our rather dysfunctional clan sad stories, songs, & poems were the norm and a person gets used to telling and hearing sad tales. This in itself gets to be a rut that can lead to the above mindset. I find myself sliding into that negativity; it takes serious effort to emphasize look for the good in people and focus on positive stories.

  3. Good writing, I understand. I have a friend, he will remain nameless, but he was like that for awhile. But wonderfully, he is now on a path of growth and understanding and that is great. Until next time.

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