Be a lighthouse, not a tugboat

Image: Olivier Guillard

Have you ever had someone you’re close to — maybe a friend or a relative — lean on you when they’re going through tough times? They probably did this because you’re the stable one. The one who has their stuff together.

So you oblige. You care for this person. You knew them when they were happy and now this thing has happened and they’re not so much. It breaks your heart, so you’ll do anything to help.

And as soon as the ‘helping’ starts, things take a turn for the worse.

Your kind words are resented. They only seem to amplify the inner strife of this person. As hard as you push to help — genuinely help — you’re met with the same amount of force pushing back at you.

You get frustrated… What an ingrate. Fine, be miserable.

Sound familiar? Me too. Many times. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from this rodeo of emotion when it comes to lending a hand to someone you love in inner turmoil.

Helping never works. 
Fixing never works.

When the one you love is in an unhealthy state of mind, they’re not going to be able to see your well-intentioned words in the right context. They’ll always be muddled by their feces-colored filter of the world they have secured on the lens cap of their mind.

Feeling sorry for someone is a poor substitute for true compassion. 
 — Elsie Spittle

When you’re in the ‘sorry’ mode, your level of consciousness is lowered to theirs. Soon, you’ll grow impatient and want to tell the person to go pack sand (or something like that).

You need to shift your consciousness. What this person needs is a lighthouse, not a tug boat. The human spirit can never be broken. All it can do is forget itself. It needs to be reminded of its innate well-being.

You need to see that you’re getting caught up in this person’s thinking rather than trusting their wisdom. In your ‘helping’, you’re only contributing to their turmoil. They don’t want to be positive right now. So when you try to make them be that way, it only makes them react by putting up more walls between themselves and their innate well-being.

Fixing them isn’t ever up to you. It’s impossible. It only has adverse effects. Every. Single. Time.

The only thing you can do is just be with them and enjoy life as much as possible while you’re at it. Not like, hey, look at me, my life is so awesome, yay! That’s contrived and it feels gross. You know this.

You need to do whatever you can to be seated in that calm, secure place that’s aligned with your innate well-being. If it’s taking them out to the batting cages without speaking a word of what happened, that’s fine. If it’s letting them pop off and let off steam without fixing, that might be the key. Or whatever it is.

Being is where the healing takes place. Not doing.

Get out of your own personal thinking ASAP and let Source guide the way. This takes insight on your part. There’s no ‘way’ to do it. What’s important is that you remain clear-minded and in a state of grace when you’re in their presence.

Be that beacon of light they find in themselves at their own pace. The point is to provide a space where their personal thoughts can fall away due to not having anything to fight against.

When this happens, they can come back to shore.

Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people deepen their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way.

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