Offering Help vs Offering to Help

I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern in my own life, and how I frequently offer advice or help unasked. When friends, family, or others choose to open up, or to vent about something that is bothersome in their lives, I seem to see it as an opportunity to provide solutions.

A few friends have called me out on this, but it’s gone fairly unabated until recently, when I chose to not help a moth that was fluttering, struggling, with wet wings outside my apartment. I realized that the assistance might actually hinder, or create further problems with its wings.

Wet moth

Choosing to let others’ paths and lives unfold as they would, unaided or unaffected by my own influence is empowering and eye opening. In fact, it only further lessens my social anxiety and need to feel like I “fit in”. By letting others live their own lives, I am free to live my own, unfettered by their judgement or perspectives. I see it as boats in a stream.. we all idly float by each other, and choosing not to cause ripples at a strangers bow only further lets me focus on what’s ahead of my own boat.

Conversely, I want to defend and strength this philosophy. Naturally it’s not absolute. There’s still space to offer to provide advice or help without actually doing so. It shows willingness and compassion: just don’t be insulted if you’re rebuffed. You also should be wary about re-extending the assistance on the same/similar topics. Even if your friend or loved one chooses to stumble and fall over the same obstacle repeatedly, all you can do is to be there to help pick them up when they open up.

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