When we see someone struggling and we think we have the answer to their problem, it seems only natural, logical and humane to want to intervene and help them. But we should think twice before stepping forward. We should be more patient, ask ourselves why we want to help them, and what might be the effect if we don’t. There is a lot to be said for standing aside and allowing someone to go through their process – whatever that process may be. The likelihood is that they will learn so much more from the experience if they are left to live it fully, than if someone were to intervene too early.
I keep hearing about how millennials have been pampered and shielded from failure in ways which have deprived them of the resilience and resourcefulness which the rest of us have, but didn’t realise was so important. Those qualities come from being able to make our own mistakes, learn our own lessons, and fail from time to time. It’s okay to help others, but those who do it best have the discernment to know when to get involved and when to stay out of it. There a couple of lines in my final journal entry which show that Karaj knew that:
‘…it has been difficult for him to stand by and watch me go through my rebellious phase over the last year, knowing that if he intervened, I would be off like a shot […] it has hurt him to put me through this necessary part of my process.’
It’s a tough one to judge sometimes and even tougher to implement because it means standing by and watching someone we care for struggle. Our own discomfort intensifies the desire to help, but we need to see that there is a greater need than our own helplessness. By leaping in too soon to help someone, we may disempower them and restrict their growth, whilst giving them the message that they are unable or incompetent.
Maybe we do it because we like to feel needed. If so, then it can be argued that we have an interest in keeping people in a place where they need us. Maybe we do it because we genuinely think we are helping. In that case, think about the biggest lessons you have learnt in your life. Did they occur because someone gave you the answer, or because you used everything at your disposal to keep going when you wanted to give up, eventually coming through the other side with a sense of satisfaction and achievement, and the knowledge that your life will never be the same again? From that perspective it’s easy to see how rescuing someone might prevent them from having a transformative, life-changing breakthrough.