I’m so proud of my daughters and their fine academic achievements. They’ve mastered the art of extra credit. Sometimes one of them will score well over 100% on a test by taking advantage of the extra credit option. Smart!
Our egos also like getting extra credit. It’s called Rescuer-Based Helping.
I see someone else in need. Perhaps they are struggling to figure out an assignment, or express anxiety about a relationship in their life. The compassionate me knows that the best thing to do is offer support, don’t try to fix it, and provide assistance only if asked.
And my extra-credit ego can’t let opportunity pass. So I jump in with unsolicited advice. The way I go about it sends the message that other person would be better off if they appreciated how helpful and smart I am. If they play the game, my ego gets extra credit.
Here’s the dark side…my ego is so invested in getting that extra credit that if things don’t go well or the other person doesn’t appreciate or want my help, I throw a fit. Whether I verbalize it or not, my ego is yelling things like:
Hey, I was just trying to help.
Come on, you know it’s for your own good!
You’ll thank me later!
Symptoms of an Extra Credit Ego
My ego just can’t let it go. It has this obsessive need to be recognized and appreciated. You know your ego is seeking extra credit if you experience any of these symptoms.
- Increase in anxiety or compulsion when people don’t listen or take your advice.
- You easily turn against people and criticize them when they don’t take your advice.
- You push yourself on people, even when they don’t seem to want it.
- You convince yourself that you are doing it for their benefit.
Your ego doesn’t need extra credit to survive. It can earn a good grade through compassionate accountability.
Tips for Practicing Compassionate Helping
Disclose your motive
Before you try to help someone, identify why you are doing it. What was stirred inside you that compelled you to want to help? Why is it important for you to help and be helpful? Who is this about?
It’s OK to want to help, with permission. Non-consensual helping is all about ego seeking extra credit.
Let go and move on
Whether they accept your help or not, walk away without strings attached, no judgment of yourself or the other person. If you can’t let go and move on, your ego is seeking extra credit.
Copyright 2017, Next Element Consulting
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Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. This book is the foundation for our Leading Out of Drama program, a comprehensive guide for balancing compassion and accountability to build relationships and cultures that are safe, curious, and consistent.