Even if you put all the sense of benevolence and innate goodness of character that you possess and put them into action, to ‘help’ someone, who you think is in distress or living in a dysfunctional world, it is likely that you and your gesture would be turned down. Any one who has tried to help …
Even if you put all the sense of benevolence and innate goodness of character that you possess and put them into action, to ‘help’ someone, who you think is in distress or living in a dysfunctional world, it is likely that you and your gesture would be turned down. Any one who has tried to help others would know that it is not a very easy task to ‘help’ someone, even though he may desperately need it. Yet some of the world’s greatest souls have made their mark in the world by simply ‘helping’ others. Mother Teresa is the first name that comes to mind when I think of the concept of helping others. The woman, who spent her entire life trying to spread the concept of ‘unconditional love’ for fellow humans, must have truly known what helping was like. To her, help was love. According to Saint Augustine, Ancient Roman Christian Theologian and one of the Latin Fathers of the Church, this is what love looks like: “It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
The words ‘poor and needy’ as I understand it, can not only refer to the people who are deprived of bare necessities of life – food, shelter and clothing. People who have all the material comforts of the world, according to me, can also be termed as ‘poor and needy’. They can be thus called as they are devoid of inner strength, they suffer either from super ego state or complete lack of self confidence, they are radar less and they lack peace of mind. To me, these people are as much in need of help as any other who are homeless and do not have the money even to buy a piece of bread, leave alone peace of mind. But the question still remains, how can the idea of helping others be a ‘challenge’? It can be challenging because as a helper, you might have to face many obstacles on the way, which could be due to any or all of these factors:
• Seeking help is admitting that there is a malaise which needs to be corrected. Not many are willing accept this.
• Taking help from a stranger/outsider means sharing personal information.
• Taking help could also entail change. Fear of change lurks heavily in everyone’s mind.
• The quality of help may be overwhelming.
• The helper may want some favor in return.
These are but only a few of the many hurdles which a helper has to cross to bring effective help to others. It is also true that most of the time we try to help people who perhaps do not need it the way you want to help. Abraham Lincoln, while he was attempting to bring about the emancipation of slaves in America had once mentioned that “You can not help men permanently by doing for them what they could do for themselves.” This short sentence perhaps captures the entire essence of ‘helping others’.
The best form of help thus, is perhaps assisting the person to improve or change his life and helping him with the tools and aids to successfully make a turn around. Help him stand up again, give him a stick to lean on and make him take small but definitive steps to walk again. You would soon see that he starts to trot and is gradually taking control of his life again. The mistake which most helpers do is to get emotionally attached to the cause or the person which can later become overbearing. The whole idea is to practice ‘attachment with detachment’ as Lord Buddha preaches when you are lending a helping hand.
Yet I still consider that the opportunity to help others does not come very easily. Sometimes, you have to search for such occasions and if you are lucky you might just find some one or some cause where you can make an effective contribution. The whole idea is to help those who are doing poorly, to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better. And if you can do this dispassionately, then you have achieved your life’s mission. In case you too have been thinking seriously about taking some positive step towards achieving your personal mission of helping others, start with the following:
• Take time off for about 10 minutes a day to concentrate on your action steps to help some one in need. This help could be emotional, financial, psychological, physical, spiritual, or any other form that is relevant. Consider sitting down for 10 minutes with someone who is lonely – this is also a kind of help.
• Make conscious efforts to invest time, money and effort in helping someone. Incredible as it may sound, the good deeds get returned to your life too.
• The need for help may come from hitherto unknown quarters. Some one in the office who has hardly shared any problem with you might need help. Your sensitivity and perceptibility can help you locate such people in need of help. If you look carefully, people talk through their eyes, when they need help.
If you take up this challenge with all sincerity and seriousness in purpose for a stretch of 21 days, you would be surprised at the change it brings to your life. Fresh avenues of opportunities open up from nowhere, your mind becomes more compassionate and suddenly the world becomes a better place to live in.
By John Benson