Several years ago a counselor told me that I had all the knowledge and resources I needed to solve any problem in my life. In my mind, I was thinking "If that were true, I wouldn't be here." Years later, though, I began to realize the truth in his words. I wasn't paying him to solve my problems, I was there to learn the tools that would allow my to do it myself.
Nowadays, I have lots of coping strategies for analyzing my own issues and facing life's problems head on, but I still have a major issue with trying to fix other people and situations. I hate to see anyone in emotional or physical pain. I rush in and do whatever I can to rescue them. However, often times I do not have all the facts and my solutions are ineffective.
For example, there is a wonderful family that I know through church and school that was in deep crisis last year. There were mental health problems, financial need, and academic issues. I was able through my position at school to get the teenager on homebound services, but he still was unsuccessful. I tried various other strategies and sought out community support services. The husband was working two jobs and I feared for his health. Nothing seemed to be working. Eventually the husband got a third job doing something he loved. I could not believe it but adding something to his already heavy schedule did the trick. His emotional state improved because he had an enjoyable escape which allowed their finances to begin to improve as well. Later we found a tutor who bonded with the son and he ended the year with two A's. All of my striving and worrying was fruitless, but the right solution (one I never would have considered) came from the people themselves.
Other times my solution may seem to work, but it creates other unwanted consequences. For instance, I might walk through the living room and pick up a few toys or socks so that my husband doesn't reprimand the children. (I hate conflict.) This solves the immediate problem, but does not teach my kids to be responsible. Also, they do not have to face the consequences of their actions. This gives them no reason to solve the problem themselves.
Here is another example - a coworker sees that you are not doing your job effectively. He knows from experience that this will cause problems for you and for the company in the future. He may or may not try to give you guidance. Eventually, he jumps in and does the job for you. By fixing the problem, he doubles his own work and assures that you never see the natural consequences of your mistakes. Thus you see no need to change your behavior or, worse yet, you expect him to always bail you out.
For me, it comes down to boundaries and choices. I want to give people tools to solve their problems like my counselor did for me. I want to share my experiences and advice if it applies. However, I do not want to rescue people any more. I can't neglect my responsibilities to take over what someone else is capable of doing for themselves. Besides, I have plenty of my own issues to keep my busy. =p