Top 5 ways to help people who don’t want to be helped
Updated: Jun 8
You may say I have earned a master’s degree in helping people who don’t want, or think they need, help. My family was comprised mostly of people who DID NOT want to talk about anything that was “wrong” with them…including my mother whose profession is counseling…insert laughter here. I, on the other hand, was the emotionally charged wild card that constantly wanted to express myself in any way I could. Art, music, dancing, and yes screaming my feelings.
It should not come as a surprise then that I found myself married to someone equally emotionally introverted. It can be very frustrating. These people that want to sit in quiet contemplation instead of expressing themselves and their thoughts and feelings in a 4-5 hour friend therapy session. LET ME HELP YOU! I have wanted to scream on myriad occasions. For me helping is talking it out. Expression and solidarity even if no solution is reached. That is not how the other half lives. For me, I feel a sense of love and peace from sharing my feelings. Even the ugly ones. The thought that someone has either had that experience or understands it is so comforting that these conversations have shaped the very fabric of my being. But it takes sharing from both parties to achieve this intimacy and hopefully peace.
So how then do we help those who do not ask…and truthfully don’t want or think they need help? Let me share my thoughts on many, many, years of trial and error with you all. I hope this prevents you from crying during savasana as the instructor proclaims everything you need is inside of you.
1) Don’t ask what’s wrong or if they need help - They will always say nothing and no. It is weaved into their consciousness. They would prefer to suffer in silence rather than ask for help or admit that they are hurting. It usually takes an extreme situation to finally push them to admit there is a problem. At this point, it is difficult to have much influence. Instead, silently create situations in which they feel like they are helping you. These personality types often love to help others but don’t feel as if they can offer the same help for themselves. I have on multiple occasions begun to subtly speak about one of “my issues” that I know is congruent with their current emotional state so they can coach me through it and in doing so find the similarity and help themselves.
2) Create situations for them to be expressive without making them uncomfortable -Many times these types of people don’t do a lot of self-care. Booking a pedicure and getting a glass of wine together might just be the open door they need to feel comfortable loosening their tightly protected guard and letting you peek in. A feeling of empowerment can also embolden people to share. A spin class, hike, or even walk around the block can unlock those tightly sealed lips.
3) Find ways to bring them joy on a daily basis- Small smiles throughout the day can go a long way. Get them a funny word of the day desk calendar. Your over-expressive self balances them so don’t be afraid to commit the ultimate sin and be loud and creative. I personally have made desk ornaments, sent packages of exploding glitter with Lisa Frank throwbacks inside, large posters of Beyoncè with a creative hashtag, and personalized t-shirts. These things keep them from feeling alone. It is a daily reminder that they do have people who care and who get them. Sometimes that is all it takes. Let's be clear Beyonce does that for us all.
4) Just show up - It is difficult for these personalities to say things like “I need you here”. Don’t ask if you can come over or if they want company. They do not want to burden you…and really don’t want it to be about their emotions…so it will be a hard pass. Instead, do what Carrie Bradshaw did in Sex in the City to the ultimate introverted “No Help Needed” character Miranda. Just show up at their door. Hug them and then order Chinese and watch movies and laugh. That is a very underrated form of therapy in my opinion. Alert my mother…
5) Offer unprompted and unsolicited ideas - Again they WILL NOT ask for help. However if you simply send them a job listing, flowers, inspirational quotes, send them a meal, buy movie tickets and surprise them, set them up on a blind date, or even a note saying you have seen them and love them it can be enough. Small acts of unsolicited kindness. Pass it on.
These people are extremely kind and generous with their love but often time does not want to ask for that same love in return. Whether feelings of unworthiness or simply just an introverted personality these essences of our humanity is synonymous. We just want to be seen. To be loved. To not feel alone. It took me years of constantly asking “what is wrong” to finally stop asking and look for the subtle signs these loved ones were demonstrating. Once you learn the cues you often see it in even prevalent acquaintances. Bosses, co-workers, someone at the gym. The Beatles famously said, “the love you get is equal to the love you give”. Don’t ask. Just give. You will get the same in return.