750,000 people have signed up to join the “volunteer army” to support the NHS, their neighbours and their communities during this pandemic. Maybe you are one of them?
As a psychologist and a coach I’m fascinated by the people who love to help and be useful to others.
Do you know someone who puts other people first, or goes out of their way to do things for others, even at the expense of their own wellbeing?
I call this personality type the “Super-Helpers”. Perhaps you are a Super-Helper or you know someone who is?
Identifying the “Super-Helper”
You spend lots of time supporting others, in a myriad of ways.
You feel guilty taking time out for yourself.
You often put other people's needs before your own.
You sometimes give a little too much of yourself, or your time, and feel stretched.
You find it hard to say 'no'
You rarely voice your own needs.
You prefer to ask the other person how they are feeling than talk about yourself.
Other people turn to you when they are in a crisis
You tend to take things personally and find it hard to relax or unwind.
You’re super self-critical and feel you ‘ought to be doing more for others' or 'should be coping much better’.
If you ticked four or more from this list, then you are more than likely a Super-Helper.
To verify this: (1) you’d never call yourself a Super-Helper, and (2) you’d feel really uncomfortable if someone else did (you’d reply with “It’s nothing really” or “I’m just doing the best I can” or “Anyone else would do the same”).
I come across a lot of people (mostly women) like this in my work. The sad irony is, is that they are the people who need support the most, yet they are the least likely to ask for it.
How can you support the Super-Helper?
Don’t wait for them to ask you for help. Instead, offer your support frequently and gladly.
While they might say “Oh I’m fine” when you ask them how they are, gently probe if you think there’s something going on.
You could offer them support. If you ask how they are, they are likely to divert the attention back to you, so try to ask specific questions about them and their life. This is best done in a one-one conversation.
Take time to really listen to their answer and to probe, because they’ll be busy painting a rose-tinted picture. Not because they like to lie, but because they don’t want to depress you with the reality of their stress or anxiety,
Try demonstrating your acknowledgement and, or appreciation for what they do, by doing something lovely for them or sending them a thoughtful gift.
If you are a Super-Helper…
Allow yourself to take a break. Find something to take your mind off your worries and you will find it easier to relax.
Remind yourself that having your own needs is not a weakness; to acknowledge them is actually a strength.
Take time to reflect or journal on what is important to you and what it is you need in order to satisfy your own wellbeing. (You might not know what you ‘need’ because you are not used to being asked what you need or asserting your wants, wishes or desires. This is normal for Super-Helpers).
You could draw yourself a bath, and instead of worrying about all the things you could be doing in that time, allow yourself to sit back and relax.
You could contact someone you love and trust and ask them to listen to you while you off-load your stresses. But, remember that they are used to you asking how they are, and they might not have your expert listening skills. A really good friend will be patient and put your needs first.
Learn to help yourself
It’d be wonderful if you could recognise the importance of giving yourself some of the love and attention that you generously share with others. You deserve it. You really do!
Giving yourself even more compassion and re-energising in this way will actually enable you to give more to others.
Depending on what you need right now, you can book yourself in for a free 30 minute one-one session to discuss how you feel and what you can do about it.
Or book onto one of my upcoming online workshops. My next one is the Coach Yourself Calm online workshop 12-13:30 Thursday 7th May.
It’s not selfish to meet your own needs, it’s essential.
There’s lots more I have to say on this subject, so stay tuned! Sign up to my monthly email with coaching tips and articles, just click the email address above replying “Super-Helper”