You Aren't A Crutch: You Can't Save People Who Won't Save Themselves

by Paul Hudson

No matter who you are or what your situation is, your life is going to be a struggle. Some struggle more than others and in different ways, but in the end, we all struggle to live.

It's the true reason human beings need each other -- because without one another to rely on, most of us wouldn’t make it. Arguably, none of us would. People need other people in their lives, and good people are always willing to help friends in need.

The problem is understanding what will help -- and what won’t -- can often be difficult. More often than not, a helping hand turns into a crutch. While crutches are sometimes necessary, relying on them for too long weakens you.

Not using your legs for so long only means you’ll find it much harder when you finally have to.

When we find ourselves in tough situations, we take whatever help we can get. The problem is we often take more than we ought to; it’s human nature. So if you’re the one helping your friend get back on his feet, you need to make sure you help him in a way that actually helps him.

Being supportive is helping someone help himself -- being someone’s crutch is helping him as if he couldn’t help himself.

I believe you should do your best to rely on other people as little as possible. While some might differ, it's what I believe. If you can avoid relying on someone, you’re better off doing so.

My belief doesn’t stem from the thought people shouldn’t be trusted, or we should do our best to live our lives in solitude. Instead, at any moment in your life, you may find you relied on the wrong people. It happens. When it does, you’re the one who ends up paying for it.

Sometimes, however, we have no choice but to ask for a helping hand. Sometimes we’re hanging off the side of a cliff and find our arms are too weak to hold on to the cliffside. It’s moments like this you'll be glad you have someone in your life you can rely on.

It also may be times like this when you’re glad you hadn’t been asking for handouts the entire time. People aren’t so willing to help those always looking for help.

Being a crutch is a full-time job -- and it only gets more demanding as time goes on.

In the book "Toxic Charity" by Robert D. Lupton, the author does charity work for decades and compiles his findings and observations.

After years of charity work, he realizes how useless and even counterproductive traditional charity actually is. Instead of helping people, traditional charity ends up leaving them worse off -- always.

Lupton found giving people handouts only led to them wanting more handouts. And over time, people learn to expect such handouts as if they were entitled to them, fully relying on them for their livelihood with no plans for making life changes.

If people can avoid doing work to get what they need in life; they will. If you decide to become someone’s crutch, you may very well find that person sucking you dry. It’s human nature.

People will never change the way they're living unless they feel they have to.

Being supportive allows you to help your friend become the person he deserves to be.

What Lupton did find, however, is allowing and teaching people to help themselves did make it possible for a lasting, positive change to take place. As the adage says...

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

This is where you come in. When your friends or even family members come to you for help, don’t help them by trying to fix their lives or their situations. All this will do is put a Band-Aid on a wound that needs better medical attention.

The only way to help people is by helping them help themselves, by helping them understand how they can best get out of their situation and stay out of their situation.

Real change only occurs when the way we see the world, the way we see ourselves, and the way we see our future, changes. Such changes are difficult to make because they often require a complete overhaul of our current reality.

Thankfully, your friends have you in their lives to support them and help them get their lives on track. By being your friend’s crutch, you’re only ensuring their continued failure.

The only way to help the people you love is by showing them how strong and intelligent they are, and how much potential they possess.

Most people don’t fail because they don’t have it in them to succeed. On the contrary, most people fail because they honestly believe they aren’t capable of succeeding. People who succeed don’t succeed by accident; they succeed because they know in their minds their success is inevitable.

These individuals aren’t gypsies with the ability to see the future. The only thing that truly differentiates them from the rest of the herd is their ability to create the future.

And the only way to create a beautiful future is by first seeing it in your mind. Michelangelo saw David in the stone and released him.

You need to know the life you wish for if you hope to have it. More than that, you have to believe your ideal life is a possibility -- a good possibility. It isn’t always easy to have such strong belief in yourself. How can you believe you'll succeed -- truly believe it -- if life has proven you wrong time and time again?

As a friend, it’s your job to remind, convince even, your friends the lives they've always dreamed of are lives they can one day live. This is really all the support anyone needs.

Nearly all people can take care of themselves -- what most people really need is a reminder they could be great if they choose to.

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