Ask Atul : How do I stop the compulsive desire of helping others when they do not seem to need the help?

You are in a WhatsApp group and someone asks a question. It is directed to specific people - you are not included in the list of those people. You somehow feel you should have been asked. And probably the person who asked the question did intend to ask it to you. It is just that the person did not want to ask you specifically for some reason.

You are compelled to answer the question, and you do not receive any reciprocation.

This happens again, and the same response from you.

You are wondering if there is something wrong with you. Why do you answer questions when you are not specifically asked AND when you do not enjoy the response(or the lack of it ) to your answer from other people.

It is probably YOUR need to respond, more than the need of the receiver to get the information from you. As this HBR article says,

A telling sign of over-helping is when you find yourself doing more to help others than they do for themselves. You can also avoid dependency by measuring improvement. The greatness of a coach can be measured by their ability to help someone grow to a point of no longer needing them.

It is possible that people realize this need of yours, and stay away from your help, since it could be overwhelming for them.

You can see this behavior in people trying to help other groups with disadvantage, people they think are unhappy or people they think need help. One has to be really careful to find out if the help one is trying to give is really helping the other person or helping oneself. Some strategies to verify the genuine desire to help within you.

  1. Try and deliver the help anonymously.
  2. Try and not monitor or ask the person who received the help.
  3. Make sure the person you are helping is becoming more independent of you.
  4. See if someone else is in a better position to help.
  5. See if there are books or youtube channels who you can direct the person to.

One of the great strategies to deliver help independent of one's own involvement is to put them in a format that multiple people can consume and release it on the web. A lot of people see blogs or youtube videos as an egotist behavior, but I see them as an ideal way to help an anonymous person who would discover you on the web by a Google search. Your post may help the person without you coming to know of it. One thing to beware of in this kind of endevour is to stay away from a related addition - one of likes, comments etc etc.

It can be really liberating to start helping people anonymously by sharing the resources that you have, may them be in terms of knowledge or any other asset. Web makes this kind of a behavior very easy, and it is foolish not to take advantage of it if you are really interested in helping others.