As an empowerment researcher, I’ve studied for eight years what constitutes “helpful” help versus advice or counsel that diminishes and demeans, or sends you in the wrong direction.
The sad news is that thousands of so-called “helpers” in our world today – our family members, friends, service providers of all walks (doctors, lawyers, financial consultants, therapists, coaches, counselors, intuitive, healers, etc.) – simply haven’t done the inner and outer work they need to, to offer empowering, uplifting support. Instead, the assistance they give is the disempowering kind, dragging us down, keeping us stuck at the same problematic level we seek to rise above.
In my therapy training and work as a career coach, I’ve learned (and tell my clients openly) that only they can discern if the help they’re getting is right for them. And they should walk away immediately when it’s not.
Each individual has his/her own unique personality, values, beliefs, traits, needs, and priorities – and these coalesce in a way that is individual and special. So the help you receive needs to honor that individuality – and make you right, not wrong.
My advice to folks seeking help is this – if after the first meeting with the helper you feel empowered, excited, and validated, and if the help allows you to progress in satisfying ways, then it’s a good match. If on the other hand, you feel demeaned or misunderstood, challenged in negative ways, and discouraged, then it’s time to change your helper.
What Kind of Help is the Hurting Kind?
The following are hallmarks of assistance that is wrong for you – and ends up being hurtful not helpful.
You’ll know “bad” help when:
- The helper claims s/he is an expert about you (it’s not true – you’re the expert about you)
- The help is one-size-fits-all, that applies the same tools and approaches to everyone – it’s not tailored to your individualized case or scenario
- The helper assumes you need “fixing” or believes you’re the problem
- The help you receive keeps you stuck – you keep experiencing the same the problems over and over
- The helper is enmeshed with you – s/he does not support you to grow beyond the help they give
(I hate to say it, folks, but there are many therapists, coaches and consultants out there who WANT you to keep you coming back because of the money it makes them or because they want you to need them. I see this in some exorbitantly-paid therapists and consultants all the time.)
- Receiving help is a negative experience that drains you of your vitality, hope, and excitement for life. (Or, on the other hand, the help is so overly-optimistic that it doesn’t reflect reality and leads you astray).
My world is about helping professional women achieve their highest visions. As I’ve moved into the leadership arena, I’ve seen a lot out there that calls itself “leadership coaching” for women, claiming that it helps women advance. But what I see instead is a good deal of faulty advice or information that tells women they’re wrong for how they feel and what they want.
To counter this, I’m launching a new yearlong, 12-part Career Enhancement Program for corporate women for corporate organizations, designed to enliven and support professional women to attain the career visions they hold most exciting and fulfilling. I aim to provide the highest form of help I can – assistance that achieves the following goals:
1) Validates you – Makes you right (not wrong); focuses NOT on “fixing”you, but honoring who you are at your core
2) Tailors the help to your specific values, beliefs and needs – not one-size-fits- all
3) Strengthens and stretches you, helping you see your greatest talents and strengths as well as growth areas
4) Takes you to a new level – so you overcome previous challenges and are ready for new ones
5) Encourages you to be more of who you already are – authentically and with integrity, so you can help others
expand and grow as well
6) Fills you up so you want to experience even more of life and work – gives you a deep and thorough understanding of who you are and where you want to go, realistically.
If your organization is committed to inclusion and diversity, and wants to support professional women’s growth, I hope you’ll reach out – I’d love to offer this 12-month Career Enhancement Program to you and your colleagues.
In the meantime, please remember that getting outside your own head and asking for support to overcome your specific challenges is vitally important. But choosing the right kind of help– the kind that allows you to move toward the highest and best version of you – is the most important choice of all. And only you can choose the best help for you.
What kind of help works best for you? And have you ever received help that hurts?