Beliefs, Day in the life

Safe Spots

My dog has two “safe spots” in the house. A patch of tile and his bed. When he doesn’t want to be bothered, brushed, or bathed, he goes to one of those safe spots. We respect that and wait until he moves away to proceed.

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We humans don’t always have our safe spot nearby. When someone imposes views not aligned with our own, it is considered rude to stop them from speaking further. If only we could travel with some sort of invisible force field that is electrified like a bug zapper, we would be able to see the unwanted words and ideas sizzle and smoke, never reaching our intellect and emotional body.

No matter how much we may empathize or sympathize with another, we do not have the ability to read their minds, walk their path, or feel all that they are feeling from their unique perspective. And no matter how much we may identify with their problems – having “Me, too!” moments – we are not able to fully experience all that they are with identical philosophies or values.

We may desire to help so much that we are blinded by our own intention, unable to see the body language and facial cues that beg, “Please Stop!”

   Trying to help when I’m not sure what I need yet.

   Thinking you know how I feel when you don’t.

   Pressing your views against mine.

   Talking. You’re only making things worse.

The poor person we want to help only wants to jump ship in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight.

A person’s “safe spot” should be honored with breathing space and time for contemplation. We can make offerings to tempt the person away from their spot, then step back, allowing them space to choose for themselves which offer they’d like to receive. And if our offering is not the one chosen, accept that choice as being in their best interests.

Some of us are hard-wired helpers who sometimes forget that help is selected by the individual in need, and one size does not fit all.

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(The video of this dog is totally unrelated, but he’s offering dog toys to an infant because he stole her toy. )




Help Is A Two-Way Street

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Woodstock is a bird. Birds love rain! He probably didn’t ask Snoopy for help staying dry.

Help requires permission. A person needs to ask for the help they’d like to receive. A pet needs to allow help to be dispensed. If someone is not of sound mind, they still need to cooperate to receive assistance.

My sister had a recent encounter with a woman who offered her emotional help when she had no idea that there was a need. Basically, this woman projected her own desire to prove herself helpful by suggesting to my sister an unrecognized problem. You can imagine how this went over. Nothing feels better than someone pointing out a problem you didn’t know you had. The woman went on to explain that since she had reached the highest level of spirituality, being a Buddist, she was equipped to help.

To my mind, the highest level of spirituality is death. And I’ve never heard the Dalai Llama tell people how spiritually evolved he was so he that could better insert himself into a problem.

Help requires trust. Trust requires rapport. To build rapport, safety should be offered.

I’ve never easily asked for help. I was raised in a DIY mindset. But I’m learning. And I’m also learning not to shove my way into another’s mess when help was not requested. Sometimes people need to learn how to help themselves, which helps others mind their own business.

I came across this very topic early on my FB feed this morning. How helpful!

“Help is the sunny side of control.” Anne Lamott

If you’d like to listen to her 15 minute Ted Talk, it’s more about life than the writing title suggests.