Can You Help Someone Who Isn’t Ready to Help Themselves?

I remember when I was in high school, my school report was the same each year. “Lorin has potential and is a bright child, but he wastes it by not paying attention and distracting other students in class.” Everyone around me would constantly tell me, “pay attention in school” because they said it would benefit me when I was older. I could get a good grade and get into a good university course and according to them this was the guaranteed path to success.

The fact is that at the time everyone else’s advice fell largely on deaf ears. Sure I still remember the advice now and my natural inclination to constantly fuck around was tamed somewhat by my teachers and parents influence, but at the end of the day I still mainly just did whatever I felt like. It raises the question, to what extent can you help somebody that isn’t ready to help themselves? As humans we have this intrinsic quality to not be able to fully trust someone elses advice until we have actually made the mistake ourselves, often time and time again. There is a certain amount of growing up that you need to do first in order to reach the first step- actually realising what is a mistake and what is not. And in order to reach this stage you first need to ask yourself the question “what makes me happy?”. That is the most important question. Once you truly know what inspires you and what makes you tick, life becomes about reaching or maintaining that goal and then everything else falls into place. Once you know what makes you happy, you then see the merits of whatever it is that you are doing and you can make an informed decision.

As a kid I was very destructive, I used to have a habit of breaking things, annoying people and generally being a nuisance to everyone around me. Even though I largely ignored the teachers who had to constantly put me into lunchtime detention, I think some of what they were trying to tell me managed to shine through. Nobody can tell you what you want in life, and ‘normal’ society’s values are certainly not an absolute benchmark, but I still feel that had I not had the guidance of people older and wiser than myself I could have very easily strayed down the wrong path (and despite this almost did multiple times anyway). Perhaps they may not have known what was absolutely the best for me in life, (like following a traditional path straight into a stable job), but at least in the broader sense they were able to identify the negative habits and activities I should steer clear of, which would ultimately guarantee in my unhappiness.

So as frustrating as it is trying to help someone who doesn’t seem to realise the truth, I have realised that the only way is to gently guide them with your words and actions, while remembering that everyone is on their own path and will develop at their own rate. Patience and acceptance are key.

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