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Are You a Super-helper (Not Always a Good Thing)?


Many people who grew up to become co-dependent go overboard helping others to their own detriment. They’re all give and no take, which puts them in a position of relying on food for comfort rather than the support of others. The 4 Most Important Things You Need to Do to Recover From "Super-Helper Syndrome" provides some spot on advice for reversing this behavior and taking better care of yourself.

“Super-helper syndrome” is a term coined by psychologists Jess Baker and Rod Vincent to describe people who have a compulsion to help others while failing to meet their own needs.” Sound familiar? Their goal in life is to please and help others which is how they garner feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. Sure, we want to feel good about doing unto others, but we also want to feel as good about doing unto ourselves.

Baker and Vincent want to teach “super helpers” how to back off from habitual behaviors of overdoing other-care and recommend four steps to reach this goal.

1. Ask why by exploring “your motivations for helping” and by identifying “four core beliefs that typically underlie the super-helper syndrome:

  • Good Person Belief: Are you helping in order to prove that you are a good person? 
  • Help Everyone Belief: Do you have a compulsion to help everyone you meet?
  • They-Couldn’t-Survive-Without-Me Belief: Do you believe that the people you are caring for couldn’t cope without you?
  • No Needs Belief: Do you act as though you believe ‘I shouldn’t have any needs’?”

2. Set healthy helping boundaries by deciding consciously “who, how and when you are going to help” rather than doing so reflexively, automatically.

3. “Ask for help” and practice doing so as often as possible so that you no longer feel uncomfortable doing it. Asking for help may include “offloading what’s on your mind” or requesting assistance in doing difficult tasks alone.

4. Don’t put up with helper’s guilt. Remember that you have rights, just as others do. “You don’t have to feel guilty when you don’t help. You don’t have to feel guilty when you care for yourself.”

Of course, selfish and self-absorbed people will try to make you feel guilty, which is exactly the kind of person you don’t want to be wasting your caring on. It’s healthy to focus on yourself. If you don’t do it, who will?