There's nothing quite like hearing the desperate pleas of people who are in distress. Immediately, I'm touched by their pain and their fear, understanding at least in a general way what they're going through, as I've had such a lot of extreme difficulties in my own life.

My first response is always to offer help. It comes in various packages, depending on what the problems are. Sometimes it is accepted. And other times, it is not. Suggestions are ignored or there are "reasons" (read: "excuses") why they would not work.

It's not my stuff so I just back off and leave them to it.

They will invariably pop up again with more pleas for help, telling me how much worse it is, how miserable, awful, rotten, painful, or frightening it is.

And again, I will offer my help. And it is so frustrating when once again my offers are refused.

So I get to the point where I say, "Okay, I'm here and I'll do this or that for you. All you have to do is say when." I refuse to cram "help" down anyone's throat; it doesn't work if they aren't willing to receive it so why waste my time and energy? I can make the offers and after that, they've got to do their part and speak up. I'm not here to babysit or to shove people into accepting something they don't really want. Their words are screaming, "HELP!" but their actions say "Oh, cancel that. I don't really want it after all."

It's like watching them hanging by their fingertips from the edge of a cliff with a loooooooong drop down to a river and jagged boulders. There they are, screaming for help, and there's me, reaching out and saying "Here! Take my hand! I'll pull you up!" and then they continue to hang there and scream.

Time and time again, I've witnessed this, and I know many others have experienced it, too. It's not even just about leading the proverbial horse to water. I mean it's not like the horse is just standing there, minding its own business, not really caring one way or the other whether or not it has a drink. I'm talking about the horse dying of thirst, desperately dehydrated, absolutely parched and just this side of death, signaling as best it can that it needs a drink - and when you put a bucket of fresh water in front of its mouth, it turns up its nose, and looks away.

(*Sigh.*)

It's true you can only help those who want to help themselves. Sadly, many people either don't really want help; they just want attention or they want someone else to fix it or rescue them, or they aren't prepared to do what's required to get unstuck.

But if someone else is yelling for help, and you say "Okay, I will do this for you" and there is no response, and they yell again and you say "Okay, I will do this for you - just tell me when or what you need" and there is still no response, then it's time to leave it in that person's lap. If you've said, "Just let me know" and they don't, that is their responsibility. It's not your responsibility to chase after them and keep asking, and keep suggesting.

You can't do their learning for them.

At some point, it is best to let them figure it out for themselves. Put your offer 'out there', and tell them to let you know if or when they need it, and let them take responsibility for their own issues, their own healing, their own readiness to change their lives and get out of their messes. Perhaps there is some bigger karmic issue they need to work out, some major lesson about assertiveness or healing some emotional issue that keeps them locked in their unhappiness.

The bottom line is this: If they really want to be unstuck, they will take the big leap that pushes them to take you up on your offer.

You're not responsible for fixing the rest of the world. You can help it along - but only when that help is truly wanted, accepted and appreciated.

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