Helping Others By Not Helping Them

How often do you try to help others even if they didn’t ask for it? Perhaps you worried about a problem your children, your parents, friend or colleague has and you offered your assistance? We usually mean well and try to be helpful or prevent others from being hurt, but the flipside is that we become involved in other people’s lives and not always in a positive way. Let me explain with an example.

Interfering in other people’s lives

Many years ago my sister in law was going through a difficult period in her relationship. My wife and I were really worried about her because she didn’t seem to be able to cope with the situation. At the time we were living abroad and my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to invite her sister over so she could have a time out and we would be able to help her more effectively. She gladly accepted our invitation (who wouldn’t like to spend 2 months on a tropical island?).

In the beginning when she was with us things were fine until we started to offer her advice regarding her relationship issues. She clearly disagreed with a lot we said and became increasingly agitated with us. At the same time we got frustrated with her because she didn’t want to listen to our advice, but also because she didn’t really participate in our daily household routines and we had to clean up after her all the time. Things became increasingly stressful for all of us

The situation exploded after I had a phone conversation with her friend. I shared with my sister in law what he had told me, i.e. that he didn’t love her anymore, and she started to accuse me of lying and trying to “ruin” her relationship. In the end, the situation became so tense that I decided to put her on a plane back home. Although we had meant well, by interfering in her life we had put ourselves in an impossible position, endured a lot of stress and tension and not really helped her, on the contrary. And, after this episode we didn’t speak with each other for years.

Preventing others to learn and grow

Perhaps you recognize this little story or experienced a similar situation. It generally starts with the intent to help someone else but before you know it you are in the middle of a situation and become part of the problem you tried to solve in the first place. It took me many years to understand that in situations like this I was actually preventing others from learning and growing their consciousness.

We all know that we learn most from our problems and difficulties, especially the big ones. By going through a challenging situation, such as relationship problems, we actually learn more about ourselves and have an opportunity to expand our consciousness. By trying to “help” another person, meaning trying to prevent someone else from being “hurt”, we actually prevent them from having the experience they need for their personal growth.

Just take a moment here. Take a deep breath. Does this make any sense to you? It’s okay if it doesn’t but in that case just be aware of the belief systems that you may have (un)consciously adopted about helping others.

Helping by showing your understanding and compassion

So, what is the best way to help others? In my experience you really help people not by interfering, but by allowing them to go through the experience, e.g. a divorce, and by showing your compassion. Showing your compassion is basically expressing your understanding of what the other person is going through and sharing your unconditional love for the other person (we didn’t with my sister in law at the time). You may want to offer them a different perspective on the situation but don’t be disappointed if in the middle of their crisis they don’t see the higher purpose as you may see it; often they only do so afterwards.

Again, I realize that many people would disagree with what I just said because there are many persistent and limiting beliefs in our society about helping others. That’s why I invite you not to think about this but to feel. What do you feel when I suggest that you do not interfere in other people’s lives but allow them to go through the experience and learn from it? Just feel.

I know, it can be difficult to see someone else “suffer”, especially when they are near and dear to you such as your children. But, if you redefine “suffering” as “learning” this may be easier on you.

If you still have doubts or concerns about the best way to help others, you may want to listen to this short channel (4:36) with Abraham.

If you have any similar experiences or want to share your insights about helping others, feel free to share them here by leaving a comment.

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