If you were raised right, and I’m confident that you were, you were most likely taught that it is a virtue to help others. Love thy neighbour – many hands make light work – and of course the golden rule, do unto others as you would have done unto you. If someone is in need, as decent human beings, most of us were taught that helping them is the only reasonable and honorable thing to do.
But when is helping another soul, the wrong thing to do? When are you actually blocking their progress and even potentially making the situation worse?
One of those instances is when the help is coming from your ego instead of your heart. Clues that your ego is directing your actions centre around whether you feel a sense of pride or righteousness for the actions you are about to take.
Now there is nothing wrong with feeling emotionally fulfilled from giving of yourself. We all benefit from a hit of dopamine now and again, it feels great, but pride is a self centred emotion that the ego feeds off of. “Look at me, wasn’t that a wonderful deed I just did!”
The ego needs to be recognized. It’s job is to protect your existence. We need a healthy ego for a strong sense of self so we can understand who we are as a person and where we fit in society, but so does everyone else. So if your actions are benefiting your ego’s need to inflate itself, that very action may actually deflate the ego of the person you were trying to help. You may not be giving that person a hand up but instead, a hand out. One that may leave them dependant and not independent.
We have all seen this scenario on the world stage. A country is in need of aid. Perhaps their land has been besieged by drought and the people are starving. Of course the first issue would be to get food to them, that is just humane, but unless you help them find new water sources to produce food, the country becomes dependant on others for aid.
Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for life.
There is another angle to consider when offering help, because all help is not created equal. If offering to help does not take into consideration the person’s desires, then again, the help may benefit you and your ego more than the person you intended to help.
Again there are exceptions, if a person is not able to make decisions for themselves or is in harms way, then of course make a decision, take action and help. But if you are assuming that you have the solution without consultation then you may actually be adding to the problem, even when the person is eager to take what you are offering. You may actually be enabling them and supporting the problem.
We all have a set of values and beliefs that shape our existence. We all have different cultural conditioning – how you grew up is unique to you. So before you offer help, consider walking a mile in the other person’s shoes first so you can understand who they really are, what their actual needs might be and what is their true motivation for needing the help being asked for.
Let’s consider someone who is an addict. Now before I go further and receive all sorts of comments as to the possible reasons they are an addict, let’s just say for this conversation that the person is homeless, addicted, and in this instance, not willing to seek medical help. In this case, how would you help them?
Of course from an humanitarian perspective, you could help them with the basic needs for life – food and shelter. You could provide counselling, but unless they are willing to embrace it, it may not work. You could remove them from society, lock them up until they are drug free, but then again, once released, if they are hell bent on getting more drugs, they will. Or, you can consider a different angle and look at their situation from a destiny perspective.
If you subscribe to the belief that we are souls inhabiting a body and have a sacred contract with the divine to experience the human conditions and learn lessons so that our souls can evolve, then perhaps for the addict we are speaking of, their addiction is the lesson they chose to learn.
That may sound harsh to someone with a caring heart, I mean who would choose to experience addiction and homelessness? Well consider this, your reaction is coming from your perspective based on the contract your soul made when it incarnated into the human form know as you. Maybe your soul wanted to learn the emotions of love and compassion this time out so it would be natural for you to want to help. As hard as it may be for you to understand, maybe the addicts soul wanted to learn the emotions of pain and suffering.
How could this be? Why would anyone want to purposely learn about pain and suffering? Well to understand, you will have to consider that your perspective is coming from a human emotion. To you, as a human, the emotions of pain and suffering need to be avoided at all costs but for a soul, all emotions need to be experienced in order to understand what it is to be human.
Let’s go back to your ego again and it’s desire to be recognized in order to establish a sense of self. Your desire to help stems from your own personal needs based on the contract your soul made. So other than humanitarian needs, would then the best way to help another person be to understand them and their needs and then help in that capacity? Would you not then actually be aiding another soul’s destiny instead?
Fate and destiny are funny things. We are all destine to the path set out at the time of our conception. What is right for you may not be right for me. On a soul level, I might want to learn about suffering and hopefully figure it out. Maybe with a little help, I learn the lesson and move forward so that in another life, I will be able to chose another emotional experience. Or, I might be hell bent to live a life of pain and hardship and no amount of help from you, a soul whose path is to learn compassion and love, will change that fact.
Perhaps the real lesson to learn for both, is to first understand what the other really needs before engaging in any form of help. Because sometimes, even when it goes against everything that you believe and value, the best way to help is to do nothing at all, or do the very minimum and allow the other soul to experience what it needs to in this life. Love and compassion come in many forms but if you are willing to offer help, that help needs to benefit the receiver. Even if it’s tough love and compassion.
Perhaps a controversial thought and one that you are happy to reject because your path is one of love, and maybe, if we are being honest here, a touch of ego as well. But at least ponder the other persons position before you decide that you know what is best for them and jump head first into a helping mode. Because if your soul’s desire is to experience love and compassion then the first step to helping another soul is to really see them first, understand what it is that they really need, even if that means not helping them at all but to leave them to experience their own journey.
And just one more thought, perhaps the real wisdom here is that the really hard form of love and compassion is the true experience your soul desired to learn this lifetime. Something to think about.