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Helping People Who Don't Want Your Help Isn't Helping

Helping People Who Don't Want Your Help Isn't Helping

by Christian Michael

March 09, 2014


People operate on their own time. Even if we were to attempt to help them, if someone isn't ready to receive offered help, it will ultimately mean little to nothing.

I was watching "How It's Made" on Science Channel and there was a product that was blasted with tiny metal bearings to create a texture on its surface to which the necessary paint could bond. The metal surface has to be ready to accept change.

We as people are very similar to the metal surface. If we are unready for change, it can be laid against us, but it will flake off and make no permanent difference in who we are. And unlike that product, other people can't force us into a state of readiness -- it must occur as we are ready.

Now, others can help this process, such as counselors and friends, but helping is not the same as doing it for someone else.

Aesop's fable of the sun and the wind debating who could remove the coat of a passing traveler. The wind blew and blew, attempting to force the man to let go of his coat, or to just rip it from him. Imagine that is someone in your life who wants to change you, or you to someone else. When someone attempts to force you to change, you're not likely to let them. Human nature means we will cling tightly to that which brings us comfort -- which often manifests itself as the very flaw people are attempting to change us from.

The story goes that as the wind blew, the man clung to his coat ever more tightly, just as any of us would hold onto our problems. The wind never won, because the man refused to let go.

But then the sun came out and warmed the world. It didn't attempt to take the coat from the man.

In this allegory, the man's coat is his problems. It's his addiction, his flaw. It's his temper or his weakness for alcohol. It's whatever in his heart that he clings to in order to protect himself.

Every flaw we have in these regards are most often a severe failing in our past where we didn't receive or were taught the right coping mechanism for one of life's common difficulties, and people often respond in every different ways. Each of us finds something to cling to that fills the emotional gap and we end up molding our subconscious needs and expectations to the improper substitute.

Attempting to fix other people's problems is much like being the wind that blew. Or family members who can just fix you by browbeating you. Or aunts who always tell you how you're a sinner. Or social justice advocates who tell you how wrong you are in your humanity. Or government busybodies who want to legislate you out of your problems. Or politicians who want to jail anyone who behaves differently than they believe is fit.

These busybodies tell us what we can and cannot eat, how to teach and raise our children, how to interact with each other, which lifestyle is morally acceptable and which isn't ... the list goes on. They want to force change upon us.

But when we are people who aren't ready for change, we are like that metal surface that isn't ready to accept change.

And then it was the sun's turn. He didn't attempt to force change. He merely glowed as warm and as brightly as possibly. He didn't attempt to curse the darkness, but merely shined the light.

The man soon didn't fight to keep his coat on. He didn't need the coat's protection or nominal warmth. Instead, he got that warmth he so desperately needed, and decided the coat wasn't good enough, and only made it uncomfortable.

That warmth is love. Not the happy-go-lucky love of mere acquaintances. It's not the love-the-shit-out-of-you love of religious browbeating. It's not the forced love of social justice or government legislation. It's not the not-so-tolerant-tolerance love of political correctness.

It's love. It's being there for people as they need you. It's letting people solve their own problems, and you just being there as they need to reach out to you. Not to enable their problems, but to enable healing through acceptance. Through loving people more than their appearance or their problems. By not assuming you can just "fix" people. By respecting that people often have already attempted to solve their own problems and that your "wisdom" isn't as good as you think it is. Just because you don't have their problem, doesn't necessarily make you any better at solving it than them.

And that's an easy arrogance to possess. "I don't suffer their problem, I must be able to help them fix it."

Before you step so sure, ask yourself about your own great flaw. And yes, you got one. You ain't fixed it. Imagine someone coming up to you so sure they can fix YOU.

Yeah, that's you with other people's problems. Or you with that family member. Or your mom with one of the kids who can't get it right. Or the government with social justice issues. Or a wife to her flawed husband she just wants to change.

Helping people who don't want your help isn't helping. It's your effort to make yourself feel better. Helping people requires investment, love and patience, allowing people to begin letting go of that flaw which they use in lieu of the healthy activity, and begin accepting real love from you.

Learn to love, let go, and let other people find their own way. When you do, they will ask you for your wisdom and your support, but you cannot force it upon them. You must merely present it as an option and then love them whether they take it or not.

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