Donna Doyon
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  • Ep143: Are You Helping or Hindering Progress

Sometimes, with the best of intentions, we actually slow down other people's progress. Sometimes we are so focused on helping others that our generosity hinders our own progress.

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Note: This is a computer-generated transcript. That means it's pretty good, but not perfect. If you read something weird or confusing, first laugh, then use the time stamp to hop into the podcast to find out what I REALLY said. 🙂

[00:00:02.930] - Speaker 1

Welcome to another episode of Finding My Way, a podcast dedicated to sharing the scattered thoughts and muddled musings of this 50 something year old woman. Each week, I'll share my experiences, challenges, doubts, and fears, as well as the lessons I've learned that keep me moving forward toward my dreams. And yes, this is the podcast that was formerly known as Reflections of a Recovering Ugly Duckling. This is episode 143, and I'm your host, Donna Doyon. Over the Labor Day weekend, Earl and I went out for a five day backpacking adventure.

[00:00:43.960] - Speaker 1

Well, we ended up only staying out four days. And to be honest, the reason is because we really smelled badly. And as happens on so many of our hikes, as we were out there, something happened that taught me a lesson, gave me some insight, something for me to ponder as we were hiking many miles. It was day four of our hike. We had already hiked 28 miles.

[00:01:11.200] - Speaker 1

Our hiking goal for this day was a stretch goal. It was a whopping 16.4 miles that would take us all the way back to our car. Now we knew that it was going to be a long day of hiking and we had to start out. We left our shelter, which was a cute, cute little shelter called Hexacuba Shelter, and it's on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, the Western edge of New Hampshire. We are almost done hiking the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, and if we had hiked that fifth day, we would have finished it.

[00:01:46.960] - Speaker 1

But no regrets. We got a hot shower on Tuesday night after hiking 16.4 miles. But our morning started leaving the shelter, this six sided shelter. There were three other hikers in there with us and the first thing we needed to do was get water. Now this was at the base of the trail where the Appalachian Trail meets the Shelter Trail.

[00:02:11.670] - Speaker 1

And we stopped to get water and there was a wooden bridge that went across not really a bridge, but two big bulking beams over the water source. They were kind of tilted at a precarious angle. And I will post a picture of it with the show notes so you can see that picture at Donnadoyon Comfort. So I'm looking at this bridge and it had rained all day Monday. This was Tuesday morning.

[00:02:40.560] - Speaker 1

It had rained all day Monday. The boards looked a little bit slippery. There was quite a drop, probably a six or eight foot drop into the water, which wasn't really like a flowing stream. It was just a little babbling Brook. But I'm looking at that and thinking, I don't think I want to walk across those wooden planks.

[00:02:59.560] - Speaker 1

So I started down this little side embankment, which would take me down into the water, across the water, and then back up on the other side. And as I was stepping down and there was probably an 18 to 24 inch drop, kind of where erosion had eaten away at the trail, and something caught my attention just out of the corner of my eye. And I looked and I saw a toad. Such a sweet little toad. I love seeing toads on the trail.

[00:03:27.510] - Speaker 1

And as a side note, when we got home, I decided to look at the spiritual significance. Symbolism of toads and toads represent transformation, adaptability, and you figure it makes sense. They're both water and land creatures, so they're really grounded to the Earth, and they're built in camouflage because they just blend in. Typically, the only time we see these toads on the trail are when they're moving or we'll hear a rustling. And I'll stop to look people who have toads as their totem or spirit animal, which I kind of feel like I do, it puts them at an advantage because the ability to camouflage, to be so adaptable in the water on the land, it really allows people, these people, to transform themselves.

[00:04:13.720] - Speaker 1

They can fit into any circumstances. So that was a little side tangent about the spiritual totems of toads. So back to the story. So I saw this toad. Now he was just ready to crest over this drop.

[00:04:32.330] - Speaker 1

So we've got the eroded bank, and there's all dirt there. And this little toad, he's kind of underneath a tree root, a very thin root. And he's kind of just hanging there. And I think he saw me probably at about the same time that I saw him. And of course, he moved enough for me to see him.

[00:04:51.660] - Speaker 1

And then he froze. And I'm looking at him, and he's hanging on in his little feet are over the edge, and the forward part of his body has not quite gotten up over the edge, the flat ground where he would be safe. And I'm looking at him, I'm thinking, oh, my gosh, little toad. No, don't fall down. That's a long drop for a little two inch toad.

[00:05:13.250] - Speaker 1

2ft. That's quite a ways. So I paused, and I'm watching him in his rear legs. They're trying to grip something so that he can get up over the edge of this embankment. And I'm thinking to myself, oh, I should help him.

[00:05:28.870] - Speaker 1

No, you shouldn't help him. Oh, I should help him. No, you shouldn't help him. He's got this. He's a frog out in the woods.

[00:05:34.650] - Speaker 1

He knows what he's doing. But I couldn't help myself. So I held my finger kind of horizontally beneath his feet and moved it up slowly until he could feel my finger. And then he pushed off, and he was able to get up the rest of the embankment. I was so proud of him.

[00:05:53.050] - Speaker 1

I was so happy for him. And I felt amazing to share in this experience. But as we continued hiking and I'm replaying this scene in my mind, some of the joy started to fade away because I had been thinking, no, he doesn't need your help. This little toad does not want your help. You are a big, scary, non toad person, and he doesn't know if I'm friend or foe.

[00:06:18.570] - Speaker 1

So I probably added a lot of stress to his day by being there, by watching him for a few minutes, and by helping him. But my intentions were good. My heart was in the right place. But ultimately I think I hindered his progress probably more than I helped it. And that's the topic for today's episode.

[00:06:41.430] - Speaker 1

Let's talk about when we get involved. When no one has asked us to get involved and we're trying to help, our heart is in the right place most of the time. But sometimes our best intentions cause more trouble and more problems and more conflicts than what we intended. So what was I trying to accomplish with this little toad? What are we trying to accomplish when we help someone out?

[00:07:09.580] - Speaker 1

We think they need help, but do they really? So our intention most of the time is that we're trying to make things easier for them. Perhaps it's something that we've gone through ourselves. We know some shortcuts, we know how to help, and we want to make it easier for them. I've done a lot of hiking over these past five or six years, and I have had to heft myself up and over some pretty big boulders and some tough spots.

[00:07:37.430] - Speaker 1

And I know how physically draining it is to be able to pull yourself up and over, and especially when there's a big drop below you. I get it. I wanted to make this little Toad's life easier, but what I perhaps was taking away from this toad was someone who was offering to help me get up and over these tough edges and these tough rocks, these tough climbs. When I'm out hiking, is it taking away from me the ability to figure it out myself, to grow my muscles, to grow my confidence? It may even be implied or inferred that I'm not capable of doing it on my own.

[00:08:18.450] - Speaker 1

And that's a real cut to the confidence. When you find yourself in a tough situation, you want to know that you can figure it out. You have the strength to be able to do it. But if someone is seeing you struggling and then they come and they rescue you, they give you that hand up, and they give you that boost, then you're not sure if you could have made it on your own. When Earl and I first started hiking frequently, we would get to these hard places, and he would say, Here, let me give you a hand up, let me give you a boost.

[00:08:51.720] - Speaker 1

And I accepted his help a couple of times because I felt like I should. But it didn't take long for the independent streak in me to kick in. And I would say, no, I want to figure it out myself. And he'd say something like, well, stubborn woman. But it really was important to me.

[00:09:07.730] - Speaker 1

I wanted to know that if I went out hiking by myself, I could figure things out. I could find a way I could develop the strength to be able to get myself up some of these really tricky rock climbs. Now, his intention was just to help me to make it easier for me. But sometimes we don't need it to be easier. We need to get stronger.

[00:09:30.150] - Speaker 1

That's a Jim Rohn quote, too. Wow. My old mentor keeps coming back to me more and more. Yes, sometimes we need to figure things out for ourselves. And when we are the person who has the experience and the knowledge and we want to make things easier for someone else, it can be hard to step back and say they can figure it out themselves, because otherwise we may be unintentionally, leading them to think we don't believe they have it in them to figure it out.

[00:10:00.300] - Speaker 1

And that's so damaging to the relationship, to their confidence, to their potential. Because in order for them to develop their potential, they need to use every bit of strength and intelligence. And that creative thinking, and that toad flexibility and adaptability to get things done. Now this isn't to say that it's not okay to offer assistance. I am all for helping each other out, making life as easy as we can.

[00:10:30.930] - Speaker 1

The challenge is and the problem arises when we force our way of doing things, our offer of assistance onto someone else. That means we're not respecting their boundaries. So how do we handle this? We offer to help. And if they say no, we say, okay, we don't add snark to it and say, well, you're not going to be able to figure it out on your own.

[00:10:56.210] - Speaker 1

Or I could save you so much time. Allow them that journey, that process of figuring it out, that's part of the magic, that's part of you know what, you don't even know what piece that's totally unrelated. They might find that's going to add real magic for their lives because they didn't go down that YouTube rabbit hole of information trying to find an answer to a specific problem that actually led them to a video and information that inspires them to do something totally unrelated, but something that is so wonderful and great for them. But if they didn't do that initial YouTube search or Google search, they're not going to find that other piece of information because life is all about the journey and we never know which path is going to take us to where we need to be. If people are always helping us, we are on a fixed path that someone else is choosing for us instead of allowing us that process of discovery.

[00:11:59.490] - Speaker 1

Oh, it's just amazing. It's beautiful when we allow that for ourselves, and it's beautiful when we allow it for others. So if someone refuses your offer for assistance, don't take it personally. Don't walk away with an attitude of superiority or condemnation against them. And judgment that they're never going to be able to do it as quickly or as well or as cost effectively as you could do it.

[00:12:30.750] - Speaker 1

Just take a deep breath and say, yeah, you've got this. Hey, but you know what? If anything comes up and you have any questions, you can always call on me if you get stuck. But you have got this. Another thing that frequently happens when people offer help and it's refused, they turn into, well, woe is me.

[00:12:52.680] - Speaker 1

My feelings are hurt. Why don't you want my help? I was only trying to help. I only want what's best for you. When you start thinking and saying those types of things, it's a form of manipulation.

[00:13:05.160] - Speaker 1

Again, it's not respecting personal boundaries. You're hoping that the other person will feel bad enough that they're going to say, oh, okay, you can help. Their heart is not in it. They don't want your help, but you still provide some type of emotional support for them that they'll give in to you. They haven't strengthened their own personal boundaries at this point.

[00:13:29.250] - Speaker 1

Or they listen to you whining and they say, no, I don't want your help. And that is going to leave you feeling even worse. Allow yourself that release. My old word, that release of negative emotions and concern and judgment, trust that they're going to be okay. They're going to figure it out.

[00:13:52.370] - Speaker 1

It's not your responsibility. It's time for you to go with joy, walk with joy on your own path. Because perhaps helping this other person, that's a distraction that you didn't need in your life. Now, it occurred to me that there are reasons because some of you are saying, Madonna, they never ask for help. Oh, they have too much pride.

[00:14:15.000] - Speaker 1

They would never ask for help. Pride can be something that keeps people from asking for help, but it's also something that we should be respecting. It's their choice. And if they want to struggle more to face more challenges because they refuse to ask for help because of pride, that's part of their journey. That's not your responsibility to convince them otherwise.

[00:14:39.990] - Speaker 1

As much as we want to make things easier for other people and for ourselves in these times, the easiest kindest thing we can do for both parties is to say, Enjoy your ride, enjoy the journey, enjoy the process. I'm here if you need me, and then continue with our life. Now, I do think there are a few reasons why people don't ask for help. Sometimes they don't ask for help because they really believe they can figure it out themselves. And they want to figure it out themselves.

[00:15:14.070] - Speaker 1

They know this is part of their growth process. And when we force our thoughts, our ideas and our ways onto them, we steal that from them. We take it from them. And that's not a good feeling for either party. Sometimes people don't ask for help because they believe that the price is too high.

[00:15:34.050] - Speaker 1

Sometimes when we offer to help or when other people offer to help us, we know that there are those invisible conditions attached to it. If a parent offers to help you out financially, you know that. Oh, that means I have to call every week. That means I have to visit twice a week. That means this.

[00:15:55.010] - Speaker 1

That means that. And we just know that there are some conditions involved and we don't want to have to pay that price. Perhaps we've learned that anytime someone has helped us in the past, we keep hearing it over and over and over and over and over again. Oh, yeah. Donna, you remember that time I helped you move?

[00:16:18.100] - Speaker 1

When was that? Way back in 85? Yeah, I think it was back in 85. And remember that this was going on and this was going on. Let it go.

[00:16:27.580] - Speaker 1

You helped me. I appreciated it. Let it go. But there are relationships where people hold on to these things. And even if you've done something a similar kindness to them, help them in some way, they seem to keep track of every single time when they've helped you.

[00:16:45.680] - Speaker 1

They've gotten you out of a pinch when they've rescued you. And they want the world to know that they are the heroes of your story because they rescued you and all you're doing is thinking, I wish I'd never asked for help. I wish I'd never asked for help. I wish I would have managed to stick everything into the back of my Volkswagen car to move it from one place to another instead of borrowing their pickup truck. I just wish I had never asked if you've been on the receiving end of that and there are people who have helped you and you never hear the end of it.

[00:17:19.260] - Speaker 1

You are very reluctant to ask them for help because you know it's just part of another story they're going to be telling. If you are someone who keeps reminding people of all that you have done for them and all that you have given them this week, I invite you. I encourage you. I challenge you to freaking stop that BS. That helps no one.

[00:17:41.950] - Speaker 1

That hurts relationships. If that's what you need to do to feel better about yourself, go back and start listening to the podcast episode number one of Finding My Way, which at the time was Reflections of a Recovering Ugly Duckling. Because you need to focus more on yourself. Your sense of joy and fulfillment is never going to come from what you are helping other people do. When you do it with the spirit of I will always hold this over your head.

[00:18:10.050] - Speaker 1

Don't be that person. Give freely and unconditionally give with love. That's when you're going to start feeling joy. And don't expect people to. Every single time you see them say, hey, just wanted to say thank you for helping me move way back in 1985.

[00:18:26.980] - Speaker 1

That meant a lot to me. Let it go, people release it, and then you will experience that feeling of ease, of knowing that you have your own back. You don't have to have everyone else's back. Have your own. Let them take care of themselves because they are fully capable, unless you're getting in their way.

[00:18:49.410] - Speaker 1

So if you see someone that could use help or something like a toad on a trail, before you rush in to offer help, ask yourself, Will this help or will it hinder their progress? Always ask if you can help. Ask if they're interested in suggestions, and if they say no, wish them well with positive, encouraging, supportive energy directed their way. Allow them to proceed on their own journey, because it's their journey. And as for yourself, if someone offers you help, don't feel like you have to take it, but allow yourself to take it if it feels right.

[00:19:32.910] - Speaker 1

Sometimes accepting or receiving assistance allows you to create a shared experience where you both succeed. One is the student, one is the mentor. Progress is made, success is experienced. Both people learn something about themselves, about each other, and it becomes one of those stories, those memories that's replayed in family gatherings or whatever setting where both people are interrupting each other as they share the next bit of what happened, they're both enjoying the memory. Instead of one person talking about the memory and the other person kind of slinking down in their chair and saying, oh, please, just make it stop.

[00:20:19.270] - Speaker 1

Make it stop. There are times in life when we want help, and there are times in life when we don't want help. And that's up to us as individuals, and it's up to us to respect that choice in other people. Helping or hindering someone's progress, that's a big deal. I do believe that most of the time our intentions are in the right place.

[00:20:45.160] - Speaker 1

But sometimes our intentions and the actions we take aren't in the best interest of the other people in our lives. So this week I invite you, I encourage you, and I challenge you to start being mindful of when you offer help, ask yourself, Is this helping? Or is this hindering the other person's progress? Be sure to ask if they want your help and be okay when they say no. And appreciate that sometimes by not helping someone else, freeze up your time, your energy and your resources to continue taking the steps on your own journey.

[00:21:30.330] - Speaker 1

Because sometimes we are helping other people as a way of hindering our own progress. It's a great distraction. We say that our intentions are the best, but it keeps us from being fully accountable to our own journey. So the next time you're ready to quickly jump in and offer to help someone else, ask yourself, Is this helping or hindering my own progress?

[00:22:00.310] - Speaker 1

Hey there, it's Donna. If you're listening to this outro, it means I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that I'm no longer recording new episodes of this podcast. The good news is that all 165 episodes will remain available to you. While creating this podcast has been an amazing adventure, I feel like the lessons have been learned and my quest has been completed in my heart.

[00:22:27.690] - Speaker 1

It's telling me it's time to move on to something new, something different and maybe something that's even more challenging. So now while my heart tells me to get ready for my next adventure, I'm resisting it. I don't feel ready. So what I'm going to do is take some time to organize all of the self development materials I've created over the past several decades. I'm going to put them into an online library of sorts and who knows?

[00:22:57.560] - Speaker 1

Maybe the answer that I'm looking for will be found in the content that I created decades ago. Imagine that messages that impacted my life's journey way back then they might impact my life's journey once again and at the very least I will have cleaned out and organized my computer files and created this online library that will allow people access to most of my self development materials. If you want to learn more about this library or just find out what I'm up to now, drop by my website Donnadoyon.com and remember enjoying every adventure that's the secret to living happily ever after. The music for this podcast is Drifting Upstream by Hyson.


Show Notes:

Here are a couple pictures from our hike.

Donna Doyon - Ep143 - Scary bridge

This was the bridge we could have used to cross a brook. Instead we went down an eroded banking to the left. That is where I saw and helped a sweet little toad. 🙂

Donna Doyon at Hexacuba shelter

Me and Earl in front of Hexacuba shelter on the Appalachian Trail. 

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The music for this podcast is Drifting Upstream by Hyson. The music was slightly remixed and fit to needed duration.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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