Helping others and why some of us are getting it all wrong
We have recently seen some of the fastest technological growth in history. At the same time, my generation has inherited some of the most complex problems ever faced by humanity. Ironically, the tools, resources, networks and freedom to solve these global issues are in many ways exasperating our inability to mentally step up to the challenge. Humans are the most anxious, depressed, fat emotionally disconnected, and we are the first generation to have a lower life expectancy than our parents.
Despite this, I am in complete and utter awe of the drive and passion I see in my peers to change their world.
I see a group of young people who compulsively think of others or the planet before themselves
Who sacrifice their own happiness and fulfilment to help others
Who are so loving they become bogged down in the endless choices of their 'life purpose' they are consumed with anxiety.
And who are suffering because of a society that is so focussed on DOING for others, that we have never been taught how to just BE.
Their willingness to sacrifice convenience, comfort and oftentimes their emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing to solve these global catastrophes is the new martyrdom.
Since a young age I have had an urge to help others. As I began university, I longed to do 'good' work, humanitarian work, and was inspired by people who gave up the comforts of their western, sheltered life attend to others' basic needs. I was conditioned to think that this urge to help could only be fulfilled by working for a not-for-profit or the government (because private corporations are full of greedy fucks who only care about money - right?).
This compulsion became my obsession. I studied hard, volunteered to get work experience that would land me that job where I could FINALLY start making a difference to the lives of those less fortunate than I.
And then, Eckhart Tolle absolutely dominated with this quote from A New Earth:
Those who do not attempt to be more than they are but are simply themselves stand out as remarkable and are the only ones who truly make a difference in the world.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to help others. Humans are hardwired for connection, and when the world is suffering, it is this instinct that kicks into overdrive.
But when our identity and sense of self becomes wrapped up in helping others, we are relying on others misfortune and poverty to be fulfilled. And in doing so, we do a disservice to ourselves, but also to the people we want to help.
In order to live my life purpose, I needed others to be worse off than me. Helping others therefore became a selfish pursuit which fed on my perception of who I was, rather than given from a place of love without expectations of getting anything in return.
If they don’t need my help - then who am I?
If I lose my job, or am not successful in getting that position - then who am I?
The truth is that our only purpose is to be present, and to love. We can make an impact everyday just by existing and living your truth.
Whether you work in a profession where you directly help people/animals/the environment or not,
your existence is a gift on this earth
And your energy is a powerful force for change.
Y O U M A T T E R.
Being present and showing compassion to every single person, animal and plant that comes into your life is truly your greatest contribution.
Caveat: You may not see the effect you have straight away. In fact, when I began practicing this, I was continuously coming into contact with unconscious people, and feeling like it was a big waste of time to give someone else my full attention when I wasn't getting that back in return (thankyou universe).
However, then I began noticing the people that came into my life - people who truly valued my opinion, who were the embodiment of love and gave me their full presence when I commanded it.
So, I urge you to question your compulsion to help others.
Is your definition of who you are reliant on feeling needed and loved by someone receiving your help?
Do you expect it to catapult you to a more senior position in an organisation, or linked to status and ego?
And is it aligned with what you truly desire?
If you feel called to share something - a service, kind words, your love - it is a bonus if it helps someone, not a a precondition of sharing in the first place.