February 25


Today's Quotation:

People who won't help others in trouble "because they got into trouble through their own fault" would probably not throw a lifeline to a drowning person until they learned whether that person fell in through his or her own fault or not.

Sydney J. Harris

Today's Meditation:

I've been the person who got into trouble on my own, through my own mistakes, and believe me, some help would have been appreciated at those times.  But I also know that it's very important to learn how to deal with adversity on our own, without someone else bailing us out whenever we get into trouble, so therein lies an interesting dilemma--how do we decide when our help is necessary and when our help is damaging?  Are we going to let someone else founder and lose their faith in people, or are we going to become enablers by pulling them out of their own mess?

I believe that the answer isn't often easy to find.

I think that what Sydney says is important, but it simplifies a very complex situation.  There have been times when I would have loved to help someone else, but I recognize that allowing that person to work his or her way out of the problem can be one of the best learning experiences possible on that person's journey to self-realization.  Stepping in and pulling that person from the mess can be just my desire to play hero coming out, and it can hurt that person's growth in the long run.

Discernment is the key, it seems, and if we can accurately judge the situation, then we can take appropriate action.  If our own children have been careless and have broken something, it's important that we not make amends for them--taking care of the situation on their own will help them to grow up to be responsible people.  If someone at work was carrying too much and dropped it all, what's the harm in helping them pick it up?  They probably will learn their lesson whether they get help or not.  If a life or someone's health is at risk, then we must always step in, unless it would put our own lives or the lives of even more people at risk.

I often wonder where I would be if someone had helped in certain situations, and I never would have learned what it took to get out of them on my own.  It might have been very bad for me.

Questions to ponder:

1.  What kind of situations might we not want help to get out of?

2.  What kinds of signs can we look for to figure out if helping someone else is truly the best thing that we can do?

3.  How often when we help are we just making people more dependent on others?

For further thought:

It is the individual who is not interested in his or her fellow people who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others.  It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.

Alfred Adler

more thoughts and ideas on helpfulness



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