All I want to do is help... so why do I feel so bad?

50s woman

Most of us start out helping others because we care. We often try to help because we love the person and don’t want to see them struggling or hurting. Unfortunately, helping doesn’t alway work.

Over time, we may feel that others are expecting our help more than appreciating it. This can leave us feeling resentful. Or maybe the other person actually starts to act resentful toward us--the helpful one!

What is going on here?

The first thing to consider is, did the other person ask for your help?

If so and it’s no longer working the way you want it to, it might be time to re-negotiate. This takes courage because it means you will have to share how you feel and what you want to change. The risk is learning something about the other person’s feelings you don’t like. But, the reward could be a deepening of your relationship and connection.

If the other person didn’t ask for your help, you need to ask yourself what your real motives were for jumping in.

We’ve already established that your desire to help came from a place of caring, but were you expecting something in return? Genuine, loving gifts don’t not come with strings. I once heard Dr. Wayne Dyer say, “The sun doesn’t ask for something in return, it just keeps on shining.”

That said, if you are feeling unhappy in your relationship, you might want to look more deeply. What are you feeling? If you feel under-appreciated, tell the other person (without judgment or blame) and request (not demand) acknowledgement for your contributions. He or she might be oblivious to what you are thinking and feeling.

If you are exhausted from giving with nothing in return, you need to renegotiate the terms of your relationship or reevaluate it all together. Healthy relationships are about giving and receiving.

Or, perhaps, being helpful is a way to get your own needs met. Maybe you like being perceived as a caretaker and derive pleasure from serving others. There is nothing wrong with that, unless it begins to feel like a burden.

If you are feeling burdened, it might be time to reevaluate the role you are playing in your relationship. There is nothing wrong with changing who you are. Humans have the distinct creative ability to redefine ourselves numerous times throughout our lives.

Envision who you want to be and what you need to do in order to be that person. This may involve some planning, like getting others to take on tasks you normally have done or letting go of having things being just the way you want. Once you start moving in the direction of your vision, you can always go back to your old ways if it doesn’t work out.

Remember, the only person who can insure your happiness is you. And that is not selfish. Your joy does not diminish the joy of the other person. In fact, studies show that emotions are contagious. So when you move toward your joy, you increase the odds that the other person will be happier, and your relationship will improve.

Bobbie L. Dillon, M.S., empowers people to create Peace-Full Relationships™--fulfilling authentic relationships--as a Peace-Full Relationships™ Coach, Trainer, & Relationship Mediator™. Check out more resources and on-line and in-person classes at Follow her on TwitterFacebook & LinkedIn