Help! vs Help?


Offering to help, asking for help, both are proving to involve admission of failure. A public admission of inadequacy by the person who needs the help.

The offer of help can be unknowingly designed to fail.

When I was helping my youngest brother as he began his futile battle with testicular cancer, I learned how depressing it can be to hear "How can I help you?", "What can I do to help you?", "I can't just stand by and watch you do. You have to tell me how I can help."

Why are these depressing? The sufferer must answer the following:

  1. What are your competencies and resources (i.e., what assets do you have and you can influence)?
  2. Of those competencies, which are you willing to commit to me?
  3. Of what you're willing to commit, will they satisfy a need of mine without incurring greater costs or new problems? A "free puppy" always has a maintenance cost.
  4. When will you stop committing to helping me?
  5. I probably don't know what I "need". Most likely, I'm dealing with something I don't understand. I'm struggling to stay positive. Your question requires me to identify what I lack. And that thinking takes me to a dark place. Makes me think of what bad things are happening, and makes me confront my inadequacies.

<More to follow, such as a 4 word response that shifts the burden back immediately>