A client (let’s call him Fred) related an interesting story to me some time ago.
Fred was recently in India and was visiting a local market when a young man appeared in his path begging for money.
Fred chose to give him some food in lieu of money and then felt inspired to help further by finding him some work. He felt that surely this was better than begging?
He ushered the beggar over to a food vendor and inquired as to whether the vendor would consider offering a part-time job to this young man.
Here’s where it got interesting..
The beggar backed away in horror and scrambled off into the crowd. Fred was shocked, disappointed, and saddened.
This was not what Fred had expected. At all.
“Maybe it’s because of his lack of education..?” he said to me in exasperation.
Perhaps it is.
And perhaps our first mistake was assuming that this beggar’s circumstances were “wrong”..
And that he needed “fixing”.
Let me explain..
In OUR world and from OUR perspective his circumstances definitely seemed wrong. Personally, I can’t imagine living in abject poverty and begging for money.
But maybe in HIS world from HIS perspective it’s right. For now. We don’t know where his life path is headed, do we?
Maybe he’s accepting and comfortable with his current life. It’s what he knows and understands. Maybe he lives in a community of like-minded people where he feels accepted. And maybe he experiences a sense of FREEDOM that serves him?
And maybe not.
But, like all human beings, he’ll only change that if and when HE decides he’s ready to. NOT when a well-meaning stranger thinks he should (however well-intended those efforts were).
How often in our own relationships do we observe the circumstances of our loved ones, judge them as wrong and then decide they need fixing..?
Yup, we’re ALL guilty of that one..
I’d like to propose a slightly different approach:
Step back, take a deep breath and reaffirm that your loved-one is on their OWN unique path.
Only THEY know what’s right for them as only THEY stand in their shoes. Any shift or growth is THEIRS alone.
Accept that their perspective is different from yours and that it’s RIGHT for them even if it seems wrong for you. We can never know what someone else’s path in this world really is.
TRUST their judgement.
ALLOW them to make their own decisions. That’s where THEIR growth and expansion are born.
There’s an enormous amount of freedom for us when we ACCEPT WHAT IS. In doing this our support becomes completely UNCONDITIONAL.
And remember – we’re not here to fix anyone.