4 ways being a ‘super-helper’ could be harming you

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Are you always putting others’ needs before your own, to the point where you have no time for yourself? You could be a ‘super-helper’, and it might be doing you more harm than good…

4 ways being a ‘super-helper’ could be harming you

Some of us are better at helping others than we are at looking after ourselves. Maybe this sounds familiar to you personally, or perhaps it conjures up an image of someone you know. These are the ones who are susceptible to the ‘super-helper syndrome’ – where people feel compelled to help others, but don’t look after their own needs.

And super-helpers are all around us. Most obviously you will find them in the caring professions, giving strength to our schools, clinics, care homes, and hospitals. But they are also in offices, gyms, community groups, and charities. Helping whenever and wherever they can, either at work or in their own time. They are the problem-solvers, the mediators, and the fixers, who can’t resist any opportunity to help.

But, as kind as it is to want to support others, the old adage ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ is well-known for a good reason. It’s important to spot the signs of being a super-helper early, so you can take action before you reach a state of collapse. Here, we’re sharing the four most common adverse consequences.


Many helpers run on empty and take this for granted. Are you tired all the time? Do you have no time for yourself? Is your sleep disturbed? Do you suffer from muscle tension or headaches? Do you feel irritable, tetchy or just weighed down?


Are you stretched out like an elastic band that’s eventually going to snap? It’s easy to say you don’t want anything in return for helping, but the reality is it’s hard to keep going indefinitely if you get little reward. At the very least, you deserve thanks and recognition. Do you find yourself ruminating on how much you do for others?


If you never express any needs, then it’s easy (and convenient, too) for other people to act as if you don’t have any, to take advantage of your help. If you give the impression you want nothing in return, you’ll often get nothing in return. That’s why it’s important to take a hard look at whether some of the people you are helping are exploiting you. Do they really need help at all? Do they need your help?


It’s ironic that those who are so good at looking after others are often less kind to themselves. Helpers’ self-criticism typically operates on two levels. Do you criticise yourself for not helping enough (helper’s guilt)? Do you criticise yourself for experiencing the other three adverse impacts of the ‘super-helper syndrome’ – for feeling exhausted, resentful, or exploited?

If you are at the point where you are finding it difficult to look after your own needs, take a step back. Like everyone else, there are times when you need comfort, rest, reassurance, sustenance, or time to yourself. And if you don’t express your needs, how can anyone else know how to take

Marisa Peer on why believing that you are enough can benefit your wellbeing

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How would your life be different if you truly believed that you are enough, exactly as you are right now? World renowned therapist and creator of Rapid Transformational Therapy® Marisa Peer shares why, and how, telling yourself this simple fact could change everything, for good…

Marisa Peer on why believing that you are enough can benefit your wellbeing

I’ll confess that ‘not enough’ is a statement that has peppered many of my life choices. I wasn’t qualified enough to apply for a job I once wanted, I wasn’t clever enough to sign up to a psychology course that piqued my interest, and romantically, well there were a thousand ‘not enoughs’ that built invisible, impenetrable barriers all around me throughout my 20s.

If this resonates with you in any way, then Marisa Peer’s words could well be the antidote to the ‘not enough’ epidemic that seems to impact so many of us. With more than 30 years’ experience in the field of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, Marisa has also developed her own therapeutic approach, Rapid Transformational Therapy®, a practice that has gained global acclaim.

Having started her career working in the health and fitness industry in the 1980s, Marisa quickly realised that there was too great an emphasis on shrinking ourselves physically and mentally, rather than loving and backing ourselves. The transition from self-loathing to self-love, she now insists, stems from upgrading your self-talk, and she’s passionate about this message.

From the development of RTT® to her I Am Enough movement, Marisa is evidently on a life-long mission to help people live happier, healthier, and longer lives. So we’re grateful that she’s sharing her knowledge with Happiful, too, and how you can begin to banish the ‘not enoughs’, by taking on board these five actionable suggestions from Marisa:

Acknowledge fear of rejection, then let it pass

When we’re born on the planet, we have one need and that’s to make it, to survive. As a baby you know that you’ll survive if you can find connection and avoid rejection. As a result, we are all scared of rejection, but the truth is that, as an adult, nobody can reject you unless you give them your consent.

Do not let rejection in, let it go over your head. If it hurts, remind yourself it’s just someone’s opinion, and it doesn’t matter. Let it go. When someone says something harsh, say something nice to yourself, tell yourself that you are a good person. Remember that people can be mean, unkind, and hurtful, but critical people have the most criticism reserved for themselves.

You have a choice every day, and not letting destructive criticisms in can actually change your life.

Trauma dumping: what is it, why is it bad, and how to get friends to stop trauma dumping?

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What is trauma dumping, why do some people do it, and what can you do to stop friends (and ourselves) from oversharing difficult thoughts and emotions at inappropriate times? We answer your top trauma dumping questions and share more about how you can set healthy boundaries with friends who overshare

Trauma dumping: what is it, why is it bad, and how to get friends to stop trauma dumping?

We’ve all experienced friendships where one person overshares. I know I’ve been guilty of it more than once in the past. Knowing where the boundaries lie between sharing your worries with friends and overburdening them with your troubles can be tough. For those experiencing trauma dumping first-hand from a friend, it can feel impossible to know when or even if you should speak out. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be encouraging each other to reach out when we’re worried or overwhelmed?

But friendship is supposed to be a two-way street. And no matter how much we care for our friends and family, we aren’t there to act as their personal therapists. So, what can we do when oversharing becomes overwhelming, and frequent trauma dumps start to take their toll on our mental health and emotional wellbeing?

What is trauma dumping?

The phrase trauma dumping (also called emotional dumping) is used to refer to when someone overshares typically difficult thoughts, emotions, stressful situations or traumatic experiences. This could happen frequently or at irregular intervals (though there is often a consistent pattern), and most often happens at a time that is considered inappropriate. For example, sharing intimate details of a bad breakup with a work colleague or oversharing details of a traumatic medical experience on social media without providing warnings or considering who may be reading and how it may affect them.

Over time, trauma dumping (whether with friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances or even on social media) can start to take its toll and negatively affect everyone involved. For some, this can lead to compassion fatigue, stress, burnout, and may even feel like experiencing second-hand trauma.

What’s the difference between trauma dumping and venting?

While on the surface, venting and trauma dumping can sound a little similar, they have significant differences. When you open up to someone to vent about something that is bothering you, it’s typical to wait for an opportune time. You may wait until they ask how you are, ensure that the conversation is balanced and you’re asking about how they are feeling too.

Venting typically happens in a way that is respectful of the listener’s time, feelings, and personal situation. You wouldn’t necessarily vent to a friend who’s clearly overwhelmed and needing to share themselves, you’d wait for a more appropriate time. Someone who is venting may also be open to receiving feedback, comments, or possible solutions to help with their situation.

Someone who is trauma dumping typically won’t set or listen to boundaries around the other person’s time, feelings, or needs, instead focusing on releasing their own is

What is Alice in Wonderland syndrome and how can we find support?

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We all struggle with body image from time to time. But what if your actual perception of how you (and things around you) look is being affected? We explain more about Alice in Wonderland syndrome, how it affects different people, and where you can find help to stop from falling down this rabbit hole

What is Alice in Wonderland syndrome and how can we find support?

It can be hard to remember sometimes, but we each perceive the world in our own unique way. While some differences are more common – we’ve all heard of colour blindness – others can occur much less frequently.

Despite the whimsical name, Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AWS), also known as Todd’s syndrome, is a rare neurological disorder. First discovered in the 1950s by British psychiatrist Dr John Todd, and named because its symptoms resemble experiences that happened to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s famous novel, the syndrome can cause temporary changes in your visual perception, body image, and how you experience time. It can lead people to feel like they are physically larger or smaller than they really are, or that the furniture or room around them is shifting to become nearer or further away.

Mostly found in children, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this rare neurological disorder, why it happens, or what we can do to fix it. But, as with most wellbeing-related matters, with awareness comes some relief in itself.

How does AWS affect people?

Alice in Wonderland syndrome can affect your vision, hearing, and touch, as well as your perception of time – making you think it is passing faster or slower. Exactly how it can affect you varies from person to person, as well as episode to episode.

Typically, these episodes can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, and common symptoms you may experience include:

  • Migraines
  • Size, perceptual, sound, or time distortion
  • Loss of coordination or limb control

Some people also experience a feeling of disconnection from their body, thoughts, feelings, and/or environment, which can be unsettling.

While children and young adults are thought to experience it more often, some experts think that adults may actually experience AWS more than is reported. As we often see with mental health concerns, stigma could be playing a role here, causing people to not reach out due to worries about describing what they are seeing, and being afraid it might be mistaken for hallucinations, or dismissed completely.

What causes AWS?

The actual causes of Alice in Wonderland syndrome aren’t currently known. Some experts believe AWS may actually be an aura (an early sensory indication of a migraine), or a rare type of migraine in and of itself. Other researchers believe it could be caused by head trauma, infections, or unusual electrical activity in the brain affecting blood flow to the parts of your brain that process your environment and visual perceptions.

Other possible causes are thought to be stress, epilepsy, stroke, brain tumour, or cough medicine. Those with a family history of AWS or migraines&

Communication delays in children: supportive advice and guidance for parents

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With good communication important to so many aspects of a life, parenting a child who finds this tricky can be a real challenge. Mum of one Jenna Farmer, whose son has a speech delay, discusses the rise in children who have speech and communication issues, and how families can best support them to help them thrive

Communication delays in children: supportive advice and guidance for parents

Whether it’s the first time you hear ‘mama’, or perhaps a shrill ‘NO!’, the memories made when your child begins to talk can be really exciting. But, for some parents, these milestones can take much longer to happen. If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and communication development, then you might have already spent some time on Google. But what does it actually mean, and how can you get the right support for your child? As a mum to a three-year-old who is speech delayed, I chat to the experts about the rise in children who need some help communicating.

What is speech and communication delay?

Speech and communication delay is a broad term that covers a range of different causes for why your child’s speech and communication skills may be late to emerge.

The term ‘delay’ can sound scary, but it’s really just a way for you to understand if your child needs a helping hand. What’s ‘normal’ can really vary, but there are a few key things to look out for which may help you figure out if your child might need support.

Speech therapist Joanne Jones explains: “In general, we advise reaching out to access support if you have an 18-month-old who isn’t babbling, or isn’t trying to get their message across; a two-year-old who isn’t putting words together; or a three-year-old who isn’t yet able to have a two-way conversation or tell you about their day.” If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, having a chat with your health visitor could be a good idea.

Why might a child experience speech and communication delays?

This current generation of school and nursery starters have experienced part of their lives in lockdown, and recent Ofsted reports have found the Covid pandemic could definitely impact key communication skills, with half of four-year-olds not ready for school. In fact, a survey from Kindred2 revealed that 91% of teachers say at least one child in their class does not have basic language skills.

It’s reassuring to hear I’m not the only one experiencing this as a parent. But why has it had such an impact?

“There’s definitely more children having difficulties right now – schools and nurseries that I attend have said they would previously have one or two children in their class with significant communication delays, and now it’s more like five or six. This definitely is partly due to lockdown, but from talking to parents, they were finding it very difficult to access early support during this time too,” says Joanne Jones, who runs The Can-Do Bootcamp, a support group for parents who are often waiting to access NHS therapy.