People (often) don’t need help. They need love. Acceptance. Space to discover who they really are. Practical “help” might come in the way of providing actual needs like food, water, and shelter…but for the interior journey–holding space is far more important. Also, providing support so that expression of that interior journey can be manifested however the person taking that journey needs to do that in the safest way possible. Telling people what to do whether it’s relatively subtle or whether its explicit force doesn’t provide a healing context.
Always love these words by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen:
Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul….
…Serving is different from helping. Helping is not a relationship between equals. A helper may see others as weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequality. The danger in helping is that we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.
That is the true sense of service: recognizing every human being as peer. I don’t like the word peer as used in the mental health field because it is, once again, divisive. Every human being has “lived experience” and we are all deeply equal. Until we embrace egalitarianism and non-hierarchical regard for every human being on the planet we will remain a troubled and sick people. This isn’t to say I don’t sometimes want to engage with people who have similar experiences to mine. It holds a special delight for sure. But what happens to those labeled as peers in the mental health world far too often is that they too are relegated to “mentally ill” category and not taken seriously. We are all one…those labeled and those not labeled. And the truth is those not labeled are often “sicker” than those who are labeled. Read: Everyone is Mentally Ill
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Yes, a loving animal eases emotional wounds. And gardening is very therapeutic. Herbs like mint, lemon grass, basil grow easily and also have the added health benefits. Drinking herbal is good for mind and body. Love and hugs.
I wish love can be put in a bottle and given to all those who desperately need it. For years after my mother died I prayed to be loved by someone. I was so desperate, it drove me crazy to be an outsider not belonging, nobody caring whether I lived or died. being a mother changed that. Being loved by my son has slowly filled the black hole in my heart.
Sherie that is such a wonderful thing to hear. For those whom parenting isn’t an option, you might try having a pet. Animals are healing for many people. I love my dog so much and she loves me.
I just started a sprouts garden. This is an economical and easy way to do gardening. Caring for sprouts is healing and empowering, and will save you a bundle of money. Growing your own means taking your life back.
A very receptive and true statement. Certainly it has been true for me that when I have some crisis going on, human contact is what I need most.
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I think the peer movement started out with fantastic ideals but quickly got bought out by the gov’t and institutions. I even applied to do peer support for eating disorder but was appalled that of all the applicants in the seminar, I was one of the few who had even had an eating disorder! Others were psych students and other students at a local college who did not have ED. I didn’t want to put them down but somehow this organization missed the point. The other organization that I located that has this required that the “peers” be under “care” of a therapist. I didn’t bother going any further!
Help is indeed demeaning. I am almost 60 and I think it’s very understandable why elders find the thought of it insulting and invasive. Due to trauma that happened in hospitals I can’t have any nurse near me. i dont’ like them touching me nor will I let a doc operate.
ThAnk for you for this post. I needed it today.