If you gave a meth-head a bicycle, what do you think will happen?
The question I asked my friend after he shared a story about giving his friend (who happened to be a meth head) a bicycle with the expectation that the meth head would use the bicycle as an inspiration to get his life together. The outcome: the bicycle disappeared, my friend was annoyed and the meth head did what meth heads do; chose meth.
Before chastising my friend, consider this; we all have our version of giving a meth head a bicycle, don’t we?
We’ve all at one time or another tried to “help” only to have it backfire, right? This doesn’t make us or the people we were trying to help, bad people. These experiences are actually great life lessons, because they offer us the opportunity to consider the why behind our supposed act of generosity.
Here is my version of giving a meth head a bicycle. I once loaned a friend money. As I was loaning this person money, I knew I would never see the money again. The voice in my head was screaming “what are you doing?!? You know you are never going to see this money again!” Not surprisingly, I did not see the money again. As I reflected on why I gave this person money, knowing I would not see it again, I discovered that I wanted to be the one to save this person.
I gave the money because I wanted to be the one who helped this person become better. Become better? Better than what? Who am I do decide who needs or doesn’t need to become better?
During this reflection, I realized there is a difference between helping and supporting. Helping is ego based, we are better than the other person in that only we can provide the solution. As the Helper, we usually end up being the martyr because the person we are helping can’t live up to our expectations. Conversely, support is an act of being of partnering as equals to discover a solution that empowers the person we are supporting.
I’m certainly not suggesting that we stop helping or supporting our fellow human beings. I’m merely suggesting that we get present to our truth about which path we are about to choose.
So how do we figure out the difference between helping and supporting? My dear, smart reader, you know as well as I do that there is a little voice in your head (zen buddhists call it the monkey mind aka, ego). And that little voice will work on you like an overbearing-mother in an attempt to sabotage you from living your truth. It’s only when we become present to the situation and the stories we tell ourselves that we can truly choose whether or not to offer help or support.
To me, the answer is simple. We wake up, shut off our auto pilot and become an observer of our life; our actions, our conversations and most importantly, our thoughts.
By focusing on your breath during these situations, you will know without a doubt whether or not you are about to help or support. And when you become clear of the difference, you will be rewarded with the gift of inner-peace. You won’t need outside validation to prove to yourself that you made the right choice. Being an obeserver of your life enables you to be present to not only the beauty and grace that surrounds you, but it helps you to avoid the negative people and situations which distract you from the beauty and grace in the first place.
Within, you, you have everything you need to live your authentic life. So the next time you find yourself in a help or support situation, take that quick second to observe, breathe and allow yourself to be present to your authentic truth. It’s there waiting for you.
Leave me your “I can’t believe I gave a bicycle to a meth head” story and what you learned from the experience in the comments section. I read and respond to every comment.
If this story resonates with you, like my facebook page for more tips on becoming an observer of your life.
Lockey Maisonneuve is the founder of the Let It Go Workshop. This workshop is a combination of yoga, discussion, journaling and meditation. Upcoming workshops in Ca., NJ. Click here for workshop registration. Lockey and the MovingOn program have been profiled in magazines, television, radio. Print: Shape Magazine, Origin Magazine, and Yoga Mantra + Health Magazine. For more information about Lockey and to sign up for her weekly Tao of Bacon, go to www.lockeymaisonneuve.com.
Image courtesy of Ian Sane.