You know that your calling in life is to help others. You know that you feel at your best when you are aiding another in becoming the best version of themselves. You know things about others and see things in them that they themselves can’t readily see.
You were born to be a healer.
But, in your well-meaning attempt to help those around you, are you actually hurting them more than you’re helping them?
Consider the following signs in your relationships and everyday life to see if you are using your empathy in a manner which helps or hurts both yourself and those around you.
Signs you are hurting more than helping:
You feel worse. When you are helping others, even though you may feel a little pride in your ability to help them, you ultimately end up feeling worse. Drained, empty, or depressed, you are left feeling like you either didn’t do enough or you were unsuccessful in your attempts to assist. You start to feel like you’d be better off ignoring them or leaving the situation because you feel awful in their presence, but you can’t shake the guilt that you may be abandoning them.
When you feel responsible for the outcome of aiding another, you feel powerless and at the whim of their choices. You begin to help from a place that believes they are incapable of helping themselves, dis-empowering them and making them dependent upon you. This dance creates an unhealthy and perpetual cycle that makes you feel worse than when you began.
They keep coming back for more help. No matter how much assistance you give them, they just keep coming back and often for the same reasons. It starts to feel as though they cannot stand on their own without you and every time they come back, you feel like you are saying the same things over and over again. You may begin to feel angry or resentful in the relationship. You are essentially giving them a proverbial fish rather than assisting them in finding the tools to get their own.
You continuously attract people who believe that only you can help them. They come to you pleading for your assistance, even if they have nothing to give in return, and expect you to help them. They may even leave you feeling guilty if you are unable to offer them your time or energy, making you feel solely responsible for their continued suffering.
You attract complainers who never take the steps to improve their situation. Everyone vents at points in their life, but the difference between venting frustrations and complaining is the action taken after the emotions are expressed. Continually attracting people who complain and complain but never take your advice or take any steps in a direction to improve their situation may be a sign that you are enabling them rather than helping them.
You only feel good when you have succeeded in helping someone else. It is natural to feel good when you see another’s success, but if you only feel good when someone else improves their life, then you are making how you feel conditional upon the actions of another. You become too dependent on the outcome of your advice and are more likely to meddle where you shouldn’t be. No one’s success can be dependent upon anyone else, and if you operate from this place, then you will find yourself in enabling and codependent situations.
You feel overwhelmed by all the negative things you see in the world. Everywhere you look, you see pain and suffering. You start to ache at the very thought of getting out of bed because you feel there isn’t enough you can do to improve the world around you. Perhaps you fall into depression or just feel tired at the thought of all the lower vibrational emotions. The cashier is sad, the car driver next to you is angry, your friend is struggling, and your mom needs you again. It starts to feel like a chore to see the good in anyone.
Each one of these are a sign that by attempting to help others, you are being brought down by the negativity in the world, causing you to become a part of the very thing you wish you could fix. It leaves you believing that you are solely responsible for the life or actions of another, creating codependency and ultimately hurting yourself and those around you.
So what does it look like when we are using our empathy to help?
Signs you are helping more than hurting:
You feel empowered. When you can offer assistance to someone else and then remove yourself from the equation or the outcome, you begin to feel empowered. You know that you have given them as much as you comfortably could and you have faith in their ability to come out on top. When you empower others, it leaves you feeling empowered.
You attract people who want to improve their lives. Those around you who are interested in the help you have to offer are coming to you in order to improve their own lives. They aren’t looking to you to fix them, but rather are seeking the knowledge of your experiences in order to fix themselves.
These people believe they have the power to heal their own life and are actively looking for a variety of resources to provide the assistance they need. If you are unable to help them, they don’t give up or blame you. Instead, they take responsibility and continue to seek other resources to improve themselves and their lives.
You see the beauty in every person you meet. Negativity doesn’t matter as much when you cannot help but see the amazing beacon of light coming from those around you. The homeless man on the street makes you light up as you see his strength and endurance. The mom and pop shop up the street that is going out of business doesn’t make you weep for society, but instead you can’t wait to see them amazing things in store for them next.
You look beyond the struggles of those around you and see deep into the beauty of their heart, knowing they have the strength to overcome whatever life throws at them and that they will come out on the other side even more beautiful than before.
You believe your empathy is a gift, not a curse. When you can start to see that your empathy is a positive trait within yourself, you begin to pull yourself out of the very frequency which was attracting those who felt their own gifts were a curse. Self-love and self-acceptance becomes your default and from this place you can show others how to take the pieces of themselves that they view negatively and flip them around to see the positive light.
People feel better by just being in your presence. No one feels better around those who pity them. It is impossible to feel pride or empowerment when another is focused on what you need to fix in your life. When others beam in your presence, not because you are responsible for their emotions, but because you cannot help but love what you see within them, then they will want to be near you and may not even realize why.
When we come from a place of higher vibration and unconditional love, we can change the world. If we allow ourselves to feel depleted, martyred, negative, or get pulled down into a place of struggling, then we have nothing to give others anyway. You cannot give someone what you do not have and you cannot help another see the good when you are focused only on the bad.
Showing others that they have the power within themselves to transform their lives is a gift you can offer when you see this truth within yourself.