Is Help Genuinely Needed?

Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Codependency

One of Three Questions to Help End Codependency and Empower Yourself

I have noticed that this question comes in handy when you feel pressured or stressed by another person’s expectation or need for your help.  The actual helping act will vary, what will be consistent is the belief that you are the only person who can do this favor or task.  If you experience a sense of pressure or expectation from the person asking for help combined with your own belief that there is no other way this will be accomplished, it is time to pause and consider the question within this blog’s title as well as the questions posed within the third paragraph.

I frequently encourage my clients to use the Three Questions to Help End Codependency as a litmus test to help guide them to healthier relationships and boundaries.  Codependency often develops with people who are finely attuned to and care deeply about the important relationships in their lives.  Often our caring for, anxiety about or, worse yet, belief that another person is incompetent is to blame for narrowing life, placing pressure upon us or leading us to accept more than our fair share of responsibility.  When I work with clients who are recovering from codependency, I start with the following premise. Each adult person is absolutely capable of being 100% responsible for themselves.  Does this mean that each person should be an island unto themselves without needs or inter dependence? No, absolutely not,  but we are all, ultimately, responsible for ourselves.

Codependency is often characterized by difficulty with moderate actions, feelings, needs and beliefs.  Moderate actions are performed by choice and with awareness.  They do not harm you or others.  They are part of the balance between living interdependently and being responsible for ourselves.  The questions below help us find that answer to the title question.

Is this favor or task a “need” or a “want”?  The answer tells you how much priority the favor or task should have.

Could the person requesting help benefit from accomplishing this task or favor by themselves?  This tells us if we are participating in something that is disempowering or growth limiting for the other person.  Could they learn more about their own strengths as a result of solving the problem in a different way?

 Are you really the only person who could help?  Often there are other people who might be able to step up if helping with this favor or task is stressful for you.

 Reflection on questions like these expand options, allow us to accept responsibility moderately or correct distorted beliefs about our own responsibilities.  In combination with the other two questions in my approach (see previous blogs for more details) deciding whether the help is genuinely needed gives you a way to look at your own helping patterns and permission to modify them if they have become limiting or a source of resentment or overwhelm.

Alice Petty-Hannum is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Santa Rosa, California.  She specializes in working with individuals and couples on issues such as codependency, addiction, trauma and relationship problems.  She can be reached at 707-495-5350 or check out her website at .

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