Is It Helping If It Doesn’t Help?

Ever have someone say something that hit you the wrong way and hurt your feelings? As in when someone thinks that they are doing you a big favor when they say, ‘you really should lose some weight; you’d feel a lot better.’ And there you stand, gobstruck that someone would be that rude. Worst of all, when you tell the person that they hurt your feelings, they say ‘well, I’m only trying to help.

As if that absolves them from such a hurtful comment! I really don’t know how any sensible person could possibly think that shaming a person is somehow “helping them.”

While in my early 20s, I would often get lost while driving somewhere. I would get all turned around and end up being really late to wherever I was going. My mother would get exasperated with me, telling me that if I would only concentrate and pay attention, I wouldn’t get lost. (Actually, it turned out that my own over-thinking was what usually got me in trouble.)

Finally I got so aggravated with my mother for constantly telling me that I just wasn’t paying attention. Finally I said this: “when you continually harp at me for getting lost, and then telling me that I am not paying attention to where I’m going, it doesn’t help. In fact, it’s like telling a blind person that if they just paid attention then they could see.” This finally stopped the diatribes and, funnily enough, I stopped getting lost!

Sometimes it may be that the “I’m only trying help” person may be doing a power thing; that somehow they think they know what’s best for you more than you do. Not only that, but they dismiss the violation they have caused in your life because they were only “trying to help.” It’s as though they think that they have done nothing wrong and shouldn’t be called out because they felt they were trying to be helpful.

This is the time to announce that their help is NOT helpful. Either that, or just look them in the eye and say, “duly noted.” Hopefully this will shut them up. Years ago I dumped a friend who was actually no friend as it turned out. Her so-called friendship was harder to take because she demanded so much from the friendship:

  • “If you just did things my way, your life would be so much better.”
  • “A REAL friend wouldn’t treat me this way!”
  • “Your real problem is that you don’t listen to people (meaning her).”
  • “Hi, would you like to come over for dinner tonight? Great! Can you please stop along the way and pick up the chicken, a salad, some appetizers, a bottle of wine and a dessert? Thanks—that would be great—see you soon!

I could go on and on about that phony-baloney friend, but you get the picture. You don’t deserve verbal abuse from a friend or family member, and there is nothing wrong with telling them not to be so rude to you. Should they protest that they are “only trying to help,” tell them that their help is NOT helping. Then drop the subject.

Or, as they say on when someone asks a rude question at a party, you just misdirect them by saying “bean dip?” (Check out “bean-dipping on this site; it’s hilarious!)