The Overwhelming Urge To Help

In conversation with a close friend recently, we ranged into a territory that felt important, maybe even profound for us both. We began to talk about that edge where the urge to help takes on a somewhat driven quality. It is that place where a good instinct to help, can morph into something not so helpful for the helped or the helper.

My friend wisely suggested that maybe this feeling of being a little too invested in solving the problem so quickly is the perfect signal to retreat for awhile. “I’m sorry this has happened, but I have another call coming in. Might we talk about this later?”

This way we get to step out of the situation and reflect on any unhelpful patterns that are present. So many times it seems what we want from each other (even before the solution phase) is to simply be heard and witnessed. However, if you have the helping gene this witnessing part of the process can feel more than a little uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because witnessing another’s pain can sometimes stir up some of our own pain and vulnerabilities.

Continuing my hardheaded approach toward poetry and how I feel it helps us without being too pushy, I have a small one that I would like to submit. I’m thinking this little poem might be good for me when that urge to help starts feeling a little too strong. And if this is a poem you might like to keep in your own “stop the presses” awareness building toolkit, I would be delighted!


by dale biron

Can you stand silently

beside another’s pain,


without always

trying to fix it?


Can you lower your

body down between

their narrow walls

and not let anxiety

turn you toward fear?


Secure in feeling that

the world will work

(sometimes) just

fine on its own,

and you the faith

to know when.


Post navigation
Scroll to Top