How to avoid conflict in helping others

Hi reader,

Those eager to help, often find themselves creating enemies instead of friends. Despite their good intentions are they often treated like intruders instead of angels. I think almost all of us can relate with this situation, since each one of us is a teacher for someone else at one point in their lives (besides those who live on an abandoned island maybe).

Those who need help the most, are oftentimes those who don’t see the need themselves, and, therefore, remain ignorant about their misery in life. In their ignorance they attack the helper and defend their current state of being, despite the valuable advice that has been given to them. This makes completely sense, since we cannot change others if they are not willing to change themselves. From their perspective, they see the possible valuable advice as rubbish and the teacher as a wrathful indoctrinator. From their perspective, they are completely right in this argument from a subjective standpoint. However, objectively speaking, they might be blinding themselves in close mindedness and harsh convictions that doesn’t serve them well. The main reason why you would help such a person is because you see the amount of suffering and difficulty they bring among themselves and herein can grow a desire to ‘save them’. This is, off course, a noble desire, but not always a realistic one and a very unfulfilling one if your help goes unappreciated and unrecognised. Therefore, the person who is a redeemer today easily turns into an indoctrinator tomorrow. ‘saving others from their misery’ is impossible if they do not integrate your offer, service or support in their lives. It can be a very hard, painful and energy draining way to ‘help’ others and reasoning with such individuals isn’t always possible since they live in their own bubble without considering the unknown or possible new ways of doing things better or differently. The unknown is always a threat for the ego, which does not like change, but prefers to remain idle in a comfortable position. This can be an unfortunate fate, since there is a lot of opportunity for growth if we expand our comfort zones and step into the unknown from time to time.

That being said, transference of wisdom is in my humble opinion impossible, and making someone wise cannot be done, but what we can do is to transfer boons of knowledge and information upon those who have the ears to listen or eyes to read and who can use it to their benefit. Therefore, one of the tenets of being in a helping profession or simply taking the role as teacher, whatever that might look like for you, is knowing whom to help and whom not to help. Having a thorough discernment in this can greatly assist those who made it part of their life task to assist others in whatever fashion they desire. There is a saying that the wise and healthy stick together and leave the ignorant and sick alone. Personally, I honor this rule of non-interference and laissez faire, because it prevents A LOT of unpleasant conflicts. Letting someone be and let life be their own teacher is oftentimes the most effective and simple method of helping others, but not necessarily the most efficient. We all have to deal with the ramifications of our decisions and choices, and these can be our best teacher if we are willing to observe ourselves and take responsibility over them. However those who suffer the most, are oftentimes also those who don’t use this first method of self-observation, or simply don’t know it or are unable to execute it on themselves.

In this case, we need elders and external figures who can do this for them. The elder can hold a safe space in which the one in need for help can fully speak their heart with trust and honesty. This requires an act of humility and respect towards the elder or teacher, which is a difficult thing sometimes in a society where many feel self-important. You need to humble down your own convictions in order to listen clearly to an elder or teacher. The elder is oftentimes more aware about the problem then the person is and this follows the rule of those who know more teaches the one who knows less. When this occurs, their is an intrinsic desire to seek for help from an outsider which is able to help the one in need. The one in need should know whom to trust and listen too if this is the case. Having people come knocking on your  door for help or support is always better then interfering and be treated as an intruder and attacker, I guess. It is like seeing a kid playing with fire;

  1. you can choose to prevent the kid from burning itself in which the kid can be reluctant to stop playing,
  2. you wait until it asks for help while the kid is still playing
  3. or you can simply let it be and let the kid learn that fire is hot and dangerous!

In the first you interfere actively, in the second you wait for the knock on the door and interfere passively, and in the third you simply let it be and let the ramifications of choice be the teacher.

Let me share with you my own personal experience in using these two methods of helping others, since the third does not need you as an active participant.

Method 1; Active interference – ‘The Trojan horse’

How to interfere someone from burning its fingers is an art on itself, since it requires a great deal of social skills in order to do it in the right and subtle manner. Social dynamics are very complex, and it depends on the particular kind of situation in how you want to approach the one in need for help. Sometimes, the one in need for help is so convinced about something that they completely close themselves of for possible guidelines or advices. Personally, I would let them be, but sometimes you love them so much you just cannot help yourself in sharing some bits of wisdom. Communication is key here and it looks very much like dropping bits of  breadcrumbs in order to find your way back in the forest. It is an art of giving signs rather then screaming/shouting in the face. Here you focus upon awakening someone by small gestures, and subtle signals in order to manoeuvre yourself through their line of defence. By using the skill of storytelling, jokes, metaphors and all alike one can hide objective facts in what seems to be stories of fantasy. I am a ‘great’ lover of mythology, and the strength in myths lay in their ability to communicate higher perspectives about reality in funny, vivid and interesting stories. What we are doing here is massaging and influencing the consciousness of people by using hidden suggestions. A story can relax and ease the consciousness so that you can drop your boons of wisdom upon them. This art can be used for good or ill, since we clearly see how powerful these skills can be in manipulating the masses through propaganda, marketing and sales. By using this method we plant seeds in people their minds and wait until they blossom into a strong oak. Be wary though that you might not get the credits for this sort of help, since you are much like a Trojan horse invading the city of Troy. It might even by such that the person in help thinks the ideas are of his own and disregards your value as teacher. Besides missing out on credits, people can turn very ugly upon you if they give you the blame for their own acceptance of such seeds. The Trojan horse was allowed to go into the fortress much like the ego needs to be humbled in order to listen to a piece of advice or guidance. Making sure that you communicate their part of the responsibility and encourage critical thinking so that they can make their own conclusions to prevent such acts of victim hood and blame games. “Don’t blame the messenger” is a well-known saying in this regard, and “I am only an entertainer” can protect yourself from ending up on a fire like the Druidic witches had to face!

Key points:

  • Requires a lot of storytelling skill
  • Requires a lot of social skill
  • You very easily turn into a Trojan horse and be seen as a wrathful attacker
  • You might not get credit for the given assistance
  • Can be very efficient in preventing suffering compared with the third method of letting it be and letting things take its own course.
  • It is not always effective and can be very time consuming
  • It is a lot of fun if you like to tell stories like I do!
  • Always cover yourself by saying you are simply an entertainer -holder in between 😉

Method 2; Passive interference – “the knock on the door”

It is ‘always’ better when people come knocking on your door for advice or help, especially when they do it three times. You skip many steps that you have to do in method 1. The consciousness of the person in need for help is already massaged and relaxed and open for new insights. The person in need for help is intrinsically driven to seek for help and naturally humbled by asking for a favor or advice. This on its turn requires a greater responsibility on the teachers part, since such tenderness and humbleness easily goes abused and misused if the teacher wants to shape the other too much. You answer the knock on the door by simply fulfilling the needs of the guest. Such form of hospitality is succeeded by knowing what the needs of the person in help are, and by simply fulfilling them with the best effort possible.

Key points:

  • There is already an intrinsic drive to listen and therefore no need for fancy storytelling skills to gain attention
  • Higher possibility of integration for the given assistance or offer
  • Be wary for possible abuse of tenderness
  • Be wary for mental and emotional dependency from the one asking for help
  • It is a more organic and natural way to share bits of knowledge.

Method 3; Letting it be – “laissez-faire”

Letting things take its own course is my personal favourite method. Since this doesn’t require any effort on your part except for your detachment and ability to let things be the way they are. Letting things be the way they are does require a level of tolerance and acceptance, which I find to be an important spiritual value. We can only accept others to the extend in which we can accept ourselves. By knowing ourselves we can better understand and, therefore, accept others. In this acceptance we grow in unconditional love and, therefore, don’t put conditions upon others before we can accept them(MT). This philosophy isn’t always realistic, since there will be always some who do their best in pushing our emotional buttons. We can accept and tolerate a great deal, but not to the extend in which we put ourselves in danger by doing so. Knowing your boundaries is, therefore, key in knowing when to protect them and hold others on a distance when necessary.

The ramifications of decision and choice has always been a great teacher, and still is the most natural one in my opinion. The first two methods do help in order to accelerate the process of growth, understanding and evolution, but can create conflict if it is done in an imbalanced fashion. The third method honours the rule of non-interference and the only thing you have to do is to learn how to accept the otherness of others. By walking your own talk, and by simply being the example you can still manage to help many people by ‘just’ being yourself. I say ‘just’ since being yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else by using method 1 and 2 incorrectly, might be one of the hardest achievements to conquer. (TM)

All the best!

And cheers.

Kees

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