What is the difference between help and support?
I’d not really given it much thought until a few weeks ago. After a surge of website traffic to it, I was curious to revisit this old blog post I wrote about asking for help as an introvert.
I was prompted to consider my relationship with the words help and support. I think I’ve often used them interchangeably, but wonder if there’s merit in separating them in my mind. Especially when we allow ourselves to really think about what we need in order to become who we are becoming.
Do We Actually Need ‘Help’?
The word ‘support’ comes from the Latin supportare “convey, carry, bring up, bring forward.” Formed of sub (up from under) + portare (to carry).
In other words, we might think of support as underpinning something in some way.
Think of supporting a sports team, a favourite artist, or an organisation/cause. Your support doesn’t necessarily assist directly in the success of the thing. You don’t DO the thing (ie take part in putting on the show). But through a sacrifice of time, money, care etc, your investment supports the thing. Your presence makes a difference.
A ‘true’ supporter will be there through thick and thin. Even if their team gets relegated or their favourite band puts out a ‘bad’ album, they will stand by them. The investment goes deeper.
This is different from help, which is characterised by its particularity. When we give or receive help we know what needs to be done for a particular outcome. It is defined by words like aid, assist, rescue, serve, relieve, advise, and cure.
In this week’s podcast I dive into the differences between help and support. And reflect on the potential implications of a world where we confuse the two.
I share some of the misunderstandings I’ve seen in certain approaches to coaching. And why the word ‘help’ can lead to unhelpful expectations and practices. We will consider what happens when we see ‘help’ as a primary function, and how it might do a disservice to ourselves and those around us.
In this episode I also discuss:
- Why it’s not always necessary to ask for ‘help’
- The importance of under-standing those we support (to be present in the midst of something or someone)
- Ways in which an emphasis on ‘personal responsibility’ has replaced vital collective structures of well-being and support
- What to look out for when picking the most appropriate coach for you
- The role of power when it comes to giving and receiving help (and how our desire to help may not be received in the way we expect)
- Why telling people what to do might not be the most supportive course of action, even if it was the route to our own achievement
I know as we navigate this period of the pandemic, there is a potential to either rush big decisions (just do something) or to hide from them (wake me up when the nightmare’s over). I want to give you the space and time to really explore who you are becoming. And to identify how to do that in a way that feels good and most right to YOU.
Would you like to explore the possibilities? Send me a message below.