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Helping Those Who Don't Want Help

image loading... by Bo Bennett, PhD, Social Scientist, Business Consutlant
posted Monday Jun 03, 2013 12:00 AM

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Social Scientist, Business Consutlant

About Bo Bennett, PhD

You can read my full bio at http://www.BoBennett.com.

Very often people want to "help" others, when what they really mean is that they want to make that person more like themselves. Of course, these people are content with their behaviors and are not motivated to become more like the person wanting them to change. For example, a relative of mine tries to "help people not be gay," and as one would expect, most gays don't want to be "helped." They don't need help. In other words, we tend to pathologize characteristics, traits, and behaviors different from ours, and especially those of which we don't approve.

What about Mormons who try to "save" all of us non-Mormons be free from an eternity of Hell? I have even had Christian friends and family project suffering on me, despite my intense love of life, by telling me that I am suffering without Jesus—but I just don't know it.

We really do want to "help" and we do mean well, but what we are actually doing in many cases is attempting to fulfill a psychological need since pro-social behavior (helping others) is well known to be linked to our own increased well-being.  The problem is, we often do this at the expense of others without realizing it.

Of course, there are those who really do suffer, but fail to recognize or misattribute the cause of their suffering, and refuse help as a result. There are also those who lack the maturity or mental capacity to realize they need help, and this does present a challenge when they refuse help and are unmotivated to help themselves.

Don't be discouraged from offering others help, but before insisting on helping someone who obviously does not want it, and perhaps does not need it, consider who it is you are really trying to help.

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