In the past months, I’ve realized an epiphany about how to make the world a better place. The lesson isn’t new, but I’ve internalized it with experience now.
The wrong way of trying to help people is telling them what they are doing wrong and how to correct themselves. Even if you are right. Anyone can easily find a fault in another person, “Quit smoking, drink less, eat more healthy, lose weight, exercise more, watch less television, and so on”. But talking at or talking down at people is not a productive exercise. Everyone has different referential experiences that our words are connecting to. We end up talking past each other.
The changes I’ve taken were always after extensive research and experimenting before I accepted a change was the right thing to do. But it’s hard to condense all that experience and knowledge into a single sentence for others like, “Dr Weston Price
has shown that people can have healthy, strong teeth by just changing their diet which means eating more fatty foods”. Most people just look at me weird like I’m a gullible idiot who fell for the stupidest diet.
Instead, I just aim to help people with whatever their present goals and dreams are.
When people start improving themselves and gaining a positive momentum, they will have more resources, time, and energy to take on even more projects. Eventually, life will teach them what they need to learn. Maybe, right now, they are just not in the right place to change a certain habit or problem. But, everyone with a pulse has some project they are working on.
In short, helping people with whatever their present project is is good. Rather than lecture people about the benefits of meditation, proper diet, physical exercise, or financial planning, I would rather just hear the answers to what are you trying to accomplish right now? And how can I help?
Who knows, maybe in the process of working with something on their project, you will also learn a new, positive habit too.
Growth, in all forms, is a positive thing. You cannot convince a person to grow in a particular area through logic or reason. The cause of everything we do in our life is from our emotions. Motivation and inspiration are feelings. Until another person feels the same way, they will not be open to hearing about change. So, it makes more sense to work from wherever they are starting and helping them from there.
In counseling, the first lesson of a therapist is to assume the patient’s expectations and goals rather than what you expect or want from them.
It can be a hard lesson to learn. But by stepping into their shoes, you are no longer talking at them out of an insecure need to be right but out of a feeling of empathy and compassion. Do you care more about proving you’re right or actually helping someone?