7 Mistakes To Avoid When Helping Others


Helping others is the most rewarding and beneficial thing you can do to bring more joy and success to your life. In previous posts, I talked about 7 benefits of helping others, then 7 ways to help others, and now we’re going to go over things to avoid.

7 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Helping Others

  1. Unsolicited advice. When I quit smoking many years ago, any time I saw a friend or family member smoking, I was itching to try to convince them to stop. I resisted the itch though, because so many of my friends who had quit smoking hounded me and other smokers. It did nothing but annoy me and strengthen my justifications to keep smoking. If someone is not interested in making a particular change, they aren’t going to hear what you have to say, and it can damage your rapport with that person. Instead, wait for the teachable moments when someone reaches out to you for help. Then share your experience and allow the other person to decide where to go with it.
  2. Attaching yourself to the outcome. Your worth is not determined by the success or failure of others. Some will fail, and some will succeed beyond your expectations. Others will succeed in a way that is pleasing to them but not you. Whatever the case, they will determine their success; you will not.
  3. Martyrdom. If you believe that you are sacrificing yourself in order to help others, you have run into one of two problems: either you are looking at it the wrong way or you are engaging in an activity that is not right for you. Helping others should not require tremendous sacrifice. If you sacrifice yourself, you will have little to offer anyone else.
  4. Teaching what you haven’t yet learned. When we start learning something new that gives us hope and excitement, it’s not uncommon to want to run around and tell everyone about it and try to drag them along for the ride. Remember the friends I mentioned earlier who quit smoking and hounded me to do the same? Well, many of them went back to smoking eventually. They had not yet learned how to stay smoke free. For those of us who were annoyed by there hounding, this reinforced our beliefs that quitting smoking is just a pointless endeavor.
  5. Putting the needs of others before your own.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you will have nothing to offer. Your personal growth and development should be your highest priority so you can share that growth with others. The more you have, the more you can give.
  6. Over committing yourself. Few things in life are more rewarding than being helpful to others, but when it throws your life out of balance, it is more frustrating than rewarding. Keeping your life balanced and pleasant are essential in order for you to have anything worthwhile to offer anyone else.
  7. Jealousy. Sometimes, the experience and support that you offer others will help them to achieve success faster than you did. Sometimes, others will achieve greater success in some areas than you have. If this is troubling to you, revisit your foundation: humility.

Many of the above mistakes can be summed up in a single, simple statement:

Take complete responsibility for your own personal growth and success and allow others to take responsibility for theirs.