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Do you have super-helper syndrome? Here are the signs – and how it can be damaging


illustration of thumbs up through a life raft

Do you have a compulsion to help others? You might have super-helper syndrome (Picture: Malte Mueller)

Growing up we’re told being helpful is a wonderful thing.

That’s a message that sticks with us well into adulthood, and it’s not wrong: it is lovely to lend a helping hand when you can, to offer support, to aid those struggling.

But when the urge to help comes at the detriment of your own wellbeing, that’s an issue.

This is ‘super-helper syndrome’, 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.

This compulsion can cause serious damage over time, and it can be hard to recognise the super-helper tendency until it’s too late – resentment has built and burnout has struck.

So, to help us identify the syndrome, Jess and Rod have shared some common signs.

Signs you might have super-helper syndrome

‘Super-helper syndrome is a compulsion to help couples with not meeting your own needs,’ Jess and Rod tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Signs you might be susceptible to it include:

You help in all aspects of your life – your job, family, friends, volunteering, colleagues, clients, neighbours… an endless list.
You struggle to say no to requests for help.
Your relationships are lopsided – you help people but they seldom help you. You feel like you are the one making all the effort: remembering birthdays, keeping in touch, sending well-wishes for that job interview.
You ask lots of questions of others but notice that they don’t show as much interest in you and your problems.
You deny your own needs. You feel guilty looking after yourself. You put everyone else’s needs above your own.
You get easily involved in other people’s drama. You’re constantly offering advice or trying to fix people.
You are the one that everyone turns to – the first port of call when they are in distress
People open up to you even when you’ve just met them. Strangers unload their whole life story – the delivery man, the waiter, the woman at the bus stop.
You feel guilty if you are unable to help.

‘In the book we explore the underlying beliefs that lead to all of these. If you are susceptible to The Super Helper Syndrome, it’s likely that you’ll end up with one or more of the four “adverse impacts” – exhaustion, resentment exploitation and self-criticism.’

Super-helpers will sacrifice their own wants and needs to aid other people (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)

The negative effects of super-helper syndrome

As we mentioned above, many of us are taught that helping can only be a good thing, so it can be tough to recognise how unhealthy a tendency to help too much can be.

Jess and Rod explain that there are four adverse effects super-helpers are likely to experience:

Exhaustion

‘Many helpers run on empty and take this for granted,’ the psychologists say. ‘Are you tired all the time? Do you have no time for …read more

Source:: Metro

      

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