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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