Oscar Wilde once said, “We create our own demons.” And though we may not realize it, most of the time we prove him right. Whether it’s our negative mindset, self-defeating behaviors, or inability to overcome our own emotional damage, we are at times our own worst enemy. And one of the most common ways that we continue to do this is by trying to help people who only end up hurting us in the end.
All too often do we try to change the ones we love because we think we see the good in them they can’t see in themselves. We make the mistake of assuming that everyone wants to be better and grow beyond where they are, but trying to help someone who can’t even help themselves can feel a lot like taking one step forward and ten steps back.
Some people just don’t change, especially if they don’t want to. And it’s not your job to help them get better. With that said, here are 7 of the most common and most problematic types of people you cannot help:
1. Victim-Minded People
Do you know what it means to have a “victim mindset” or to always be “playing the victim”? This is what we call those who are always pinning the blame on everyone but themselves, especially when things go wrong. Because they lack the emotional maturity to own up to their mistakes and hold themselves accountable, they fail to see how their own choices and actions have led them to where they are now. They are naysayers always looking to make excuses for their own bad behavior, and no matter how hard you try, they’re never going to change because in their eyes, nothing is ever their fault (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2011).
2. Self-Righteous People
Narcissistic, egocentric, and sanctimonious, self-righteous people are know-it-alls who think they’re perfect and have nothing at all to change or improve about themselves. In fact, most of them even think it’s everyone else who needs to step up and be better, not them. They’re so prideful and close-minded that every time you even try to point out their flaws or their short-comings, they become defensive and condescending. They’re so unwilling to change because deep down inside, they are afraid to confront their own insecurities and see themselves as anything less than perfect.
3. Deceptive People
Another type of person you shouldn’t try to help are those who are dishonest and deceptive, even when you’re only trying to help them. Often charming and persuasive — especially when they need something from you — deceptive people cannot be trusted because they act one way in public and another in private. Two-faced and manipulative, they might even tell you lies, cheat you, or try to trick you into siding with them, doing favors for them, or giving into their demands without you even realizing it (Tybur & Griskevicius, 2013). So next time your gut tells you someone asking for help can’t be trusted, be sure of their intentions before you lend them a hand.
4. Desperate People
Ruthless, cunning, and opportunistic, although a desperate person may move you to pity them and beg you for help, don’t fall for their tricks. These kinds of people are willing to do anything and everything just to get what they want, even if it means stabbing you in the back. They don’t respect your boundaries; they abuse your generosity, time, and energy; they’re always asking you for favors but never paying you back; and they have no problem using your good nature against you. So instead of wasting your time trying to help someone like this, we suggest you stay as far away as you can.
5. Disloyal People
Similar to the last two (desperate and deceptive people), some people are just too disloyal for you to help. They are quick to get angry at you over the littlest things; pick fights with you over nothing; take other people’s side over yours; or talk about you behind your back. Though you may think that they’re your friends, the truth is, you don’t want someone disloyal in your life. They’re unwilling to change and be better because they don’t really care about you enough to try. They’re more likely to lose interest in you and move on to someone else than own up to their faults and learn from them (Hemfelt, Minirth & Meier, 2003).
6. Doubtful People
Next are doubtful people. Difficult to understand and accommodate, they are skeptical of everyone and everything good that comes their way. They are distrustful, pessimistic, harsh, and judgmental. And they never go along with any of your positivity, gratitude, or optimism. because they’d rather sulk and criticize everything. And the worst part is, it probably won’t be long before you start acting the same way, too. Because if you get too close to people like this, they could end up getting in your head and filling you with doubt, too (Rozin & Royzman, 2001).
Finally but perhaps most importantly, if you have someone in your life who’s a notorious quitter, you’re better off staying away from them than trying to change them. No amount of kindness, generosity, or encouragement will get them to change their ways because they’re so stuck in their “loser mentality.” They think that whatever they will do, they’ll either fail or need to work hard to succeed, so they’d rather “quit while they’re ahead” than try in the first place. Whether it’s a relationship, a career, or a personal goal, they can’t commit to anything to save their life. They’re flaky, inconsistent, unmotivated, and usually just good at the beginning. Don’t give your all for someone who isn’t even willing to put themselves out there.
In the end, you can’t help a person who doesn’t want it, who isn’t willing to change their ways and be better. Holding on to people like this will only leave you hurt, frustrated, and emotionally drained. And life is too precious to waste in the wrong company.
If you liked this article and want to learn more about similar topics, be sure to read: 6 Signs of An Energy Vampire, 6 Signs of a Toxic Partner, 6 Differences Between Healthy and Unhealthy Love, 7 Signs It’s Time to Let Go of Your Best Friend, and 7 Signs It’s Time to Break Up With Your Partner.
- Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (2011). Predicting and changing behavior: The reasoned action approach. Taylor & Francis Publishing; Washington, DC.
- Tybur, J. M., & Griskevicius, V. (2013). Evolutionary psychology: a fresh perspective for understanding and changing problematic behavior. Public Administration Review, 73(1), 12-22.
- Hemfelt, R., Minirth, F., & Meier, P. (2003). Love is a choice: The definitive book on letting go of unhealthy relationships. Thomas Nelson; Edinburgh, Scotland.
- Rozin, P., & Royzman, E. B. (2001). Negativity bias, negativity dominance, and contagion. Personality and social psychology review, 5(4), 296-320.