Moment Of Clarity

5 Benefits of NOT Helping

“Be careful that when helping, you don’t rob another of their experience.” ~Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt

Before you send me an angry email, take a deep breath and whoo-saaahhh. Of course, if there is a life-threatening emergency one should help another, or at the very least strongly consider it.

Today’s post is about the value in allowing others to work through and figure out how to deal with their life challenges. When people successfully overcome their challenges, they learn how to help themselves and become motivated to make the most of their life. The balance of when and how to help has been a question for the ages and there is no universal rule about how it’s done. What is generally agreed upon is that everyone has his or her own cross to bear and journey to take.

Allowing people to struggle can be a good thing, as long as it doesn’t turn into misery. When misery begins to surface, it is difficult, if not impossible, to learn how to help one’s self.

Again, barring any life-threatening situation or emergency, below are five benefits of waiting to help someone who is facing personal challenges:

1) Self-Control. When we refrain from helping others right away, both sides benefit. The one who wants to help learns how to control their urge to become a rescuer and the other learns how to sit with their experience and learn as much as possible about what they are made of. When we save someone too soon, we interfere with his or her process of learning and growth. Specifically, how to own their choices, understand the consequences of their decisions, and sharpen their critical thinking skills.

2) Optimal Frustration. In self-psychology, this is a big deal. Optimal frustration essentially teaches or helps strengthen an individual’s ability to soothe themselves when life, people or circumstances fall short of their demands or expectations. The key is not to have the experience become so overwhelming that they stop learning and begin to drown in the frustrating experience. Think of it this way, if you tried to teach a kindergartner algebra, you’d both be screaming and feeling awful. However, if you started teaching them how to count, the experience would be frustrating, but in a way that is tolerable for both the student and teacher.

3) Wisdom. Personal experience is the teacher of wisdom. Despite our desire to become wise by simply observing, our ability to learn and develop is driven by our experiences. For example, how many times have you said, “A-ha!” or “Oh, that’s what that means!” after something happened to you? Probably a lot. That’s because a connection was made between you knowing and something that you experienced. This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and experience everything for yourself. You just need to experience enough to have a point of reference that will help you connect with a broader experience. In order to learn from the mistakes of others, we need a point of reference in our own experience from which we can appreciate the lesson.

4) Respect. This one often shocks a lot of people. Did you know that giving someone the space they need to figure things out in their own time and way is one of the most respectful things you can do? Allowing people the space to make their own decisions, mistakes, and successes tells them that you trust they are smart enough to figure things out and seek out support if they get stuck.

5) Gratitude. People often have a difficult time being grateful for their life and circumstances often because the life they chose may not be their own. When people are able to make their own choices (good and bad), they can own their life and better appreciate help, support, and encouragement when they receive it. Resentment and blame are transformed into personal responsibility and power; which helps them to find the joy and the silver lining when there is little or no light.

Well, there you have it, the five benefits of waiting to help someone. In the end, it is more important that each person learns how to help himself because there won’t always be someone around to save them.

With love and light, I wish you pleasant journeys.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in clinical and spiritual psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and RoHun.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!