Never try to help someone unless they are ready to be helped.
Until help is asked for, until there is that readiness to listen and receive and let go of old patterns, your attempt to help will be felt as manipulation and control – your issue, your need, not theirs. Defences will go up, positions will become hardened, you will end up feeling frustrated or superior or powerless, and the mirrored roles of ‘victim’ and ‘saviour’ will make you feel more disconnected from each other than ever.
How to truly help? Meet them where they are right now. Let go of your dream of their immediate healing. Slow down. Validate their present experience. Don’t try to impose your own agenda or assume what is ‘best’ for them. Perhaps you don’t know what is ‘best’. Perhaps they are more hardy, intelligent, resourceful, and full of potential, than you ever could imagine.
Perhaps what is ‘best’ for them right now is not to want – or need – your help! Perhaps they need to suffer or struggle more. Perhaps they are aligning and healing in their own unique way. Perhaps what this moment requires is trust, and deep listening, and profound respect of where they are in their journey. Perhaps you are only trying to help yourself.
Perhaps real change comes not from trying to impose change on others, but by aligning with where they are right now, unlocking all the creative intelligence of the moment, honouring their unique path and their mysterious process of healing.
When you try to change someone, you are communicating to them that they are not okay as they are, that you reject and resist their present experience and want it to be different. You may even be communicating that you don’t love them. When you stop trying to change them, and meet them as they are, and align with life as it presents itself, great and unexpected change is then possible, for now you are an a true friend and ally of the universe.
Stop trying to change others, and they change in their own way, in their own time. Perhaps you help the most when you get out of change’s way.
Jeff Foster is one of our favorite new teachers. Beautifully wise, he embodies a fresh approach to mindfulness. Also check out: