To Provide Effective Care, Seek to Understand First Part 3


This post will teach you how to help others more effectively.  This post is also for people who are suffering from the help of others. If someone is helping you in a harmful way, send them this article.  

If you try to help someone, and they tell you that you’ve made things worse: own up to the fact that you have made things worse if you want to effectively give care. 

I had an experience where someone tried to help me, and I told them their help was unsuccessful and I explained why.  The caring response I wanted to hear from them was to listen and understand why it was unsuccessful, and then use that new knowledge to come up with a better plan for helping me. Instead, they said  “I don’t think it is the onus of the giver to consider all foreseen or unforeseen circumstances, otherwise nothing gets done because anything could be possible. ”  This is extremely emotionally abusive. Don’t do this. Let me explain why this is bad so you can understand how to do better. 

First, the sentence structure “I don’t think…the giver [should] consider” basically translates to “the giver doesn’t have to be considerate” That is wrong.  A good giver is considerate. A good person is considerate.  Be considerate of others please.  The better thing to say is “Sorry I didn’t know to consider that, thank you for telling me so I know to do so next time.”

Second, “I don’t think it is the onus of the giver” basically translates to “I don’t take responsibility for my actions as a giver.”  This is wrong.  A good giver is responsible. A good person is responsible. Be responsible for your actions and the effects of your actions on others.  The better thing to say is “Sorry, I take responsibility of causing you distress due to my negligence and ignorance. Help me understand you better so I can do better next time.”

Third, “otherwise nothing gets done because anything could be possible” is a logically fallacy called a False Dilemma or False Dichotomy (see #4 in article).  The premise of the statement is either no responsibility is taken and things get done, or responsibility is taken and nothing gets done.  The premise is false.  The statement is false.  The better thing to say is “I want to help.  Please be patient with me because I don’t know everything, but I also don’t want to wait until I know everything to take an action to help you.” 


If someone is doing this type of emotional abuse through help, you might be afraid to bring this up because 1. they might stop helping you and abandon you 2. you don’t want to anger them or shame them into harming you 3. you don’t have the emotional strength to even put it into words.  If this is the case, don’t worry.  Time will change the weather, and there will come the opportunity for you to tell them.  And when you do, you can refer them to this article.  


A useful analogy to explain this is a car accident.  In the USA, most car accidents are not intentional.  The person who caused the accident intended well: the intent was to drive safely.  However, the reality is there was an accident and now people are hurt.  In the USA, the person who caused the accident is held responsible for both the damage to their own car and for the damage to the other car and people affected by the accident.  Emotional damage is like a car accident.  If someone accidentally emotionally harms someone else, the person who caused the accident is held responsible for both the emotional damage caused to themself and for the emotional damage caused to the other person.  

Here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2

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