You Can’t Help Them

The idea that a human can be “saved” is an ancient and deep story with highs and lows, peaks and valleys, tragedy or joy. We all hope the outcome is good.

There someone is at the bottom of their luck. They are on the street. They have lost the kingdom. Their family has been destroyed. They are bankrupt. Destitute, hopeless, taking their last breath, trapped. They are about to jump off the cliff.

Superman to the rescue! Batman, Spider Man, Wonder Woman, Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Mental Health Counselor, priest, ambulance driver, fireman, guru, the angel Gabriel, Martin Luther King, Beatrice (for those that know Dante’s story).

What a great happy ending when the Rescuer makes contact with the One Needing To Be Rescued. The crowd cheers!

Not so much fun when you’re in the middle of the dance I like to call Rescue Job. For some of us, it’s a sort of auto-pilot reaction founded on VERY unquestioned beliefs. I speak from personal experience:

  • that person needs my help
  • they will die without me (I am very important)
  • they are not doing well in some area of their life (money, romance, addiction) and I could help them do better (I know best)
  • if they would only love themselves (I can love them and they will see)
  • they need my love (so I will constantly give it to them)
  • I will be a superhero/good/right/important if I make a difference in their life

The problem is, in this Rescue Job story, that one person is the Savior and Hero and one person is the Lost and Incapable. I think quite a few people have written books on this, for example “Co-Dependent No More”.

Parents take this approach to children (and the reverse happens, too), siblings towards each other, friends to friends, and in romance….oh boy, people really get twisted up in the Rescue Job story.

Byron Katie has an amazing book entitled “I Need Your Love–Is That True?” but it could include a turnaround that for me, is just as important to question: “You Need My Love–Is That True?”  

Thank goodness gracious it’s not true! I see the arrogance, the desire I have had for being The One to change the course of someone’s life for the better. Ewwww.

But I didn’t always see it this way. In fact, I still relapse into this dynamic. I must be a great and amazing mother! I must be a fabulous and forgiving daughter! I must be a steady and reliable friend! I must be an accepting and caring counselor! I NEED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


I hear Katie’s voice saying “Who needs God, when we have your opinion?”  That person in your life who appears to be in need, the one who is using drugs, or desperate, or depressed…that person who hates themselves or can’t seem to succeed or is choosing a way that you would not choose.  Who would you be without the thought that you need to help them? Especially when you’ve already tried. Maybe eight times.

This is not about abandoning other humans, or dismissing your children, or backing away when someone actually asks you for help. It’s about letting the universe assist, opening to the idea that it is friendly. Opening to the mysterious and the unknown.

Nowadays, if I notice that I am having the thought that someone needs my love, then I remember the pain of this burden.  I remember that I am not a superhero, or Mother Teresa. I am an ordinary, mediocre, regular human. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Rushing into action, you fail. Trying to grasp things, you lose them. Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe. Therefore the Master takes action by letting things take their course. He remains as calm at the end as at the beginning. He has nothing, thus he has nothing to lose. What he desires is non-desire; what he learns is to unlearn. He simply reminds people of who they have always been. He cares about nothing but the Tao. Thus he can care for all things.”~ Tao Te Ching #64 

I know from personal experience that some of the greatest obsessive/addictive you-can’t-make-it-on-your-own moments I’ve had towards others have been awful, painful, and like being in jail. For both of us.

Today I practice caring about nothing but the Tao. I am Being, without knowing what is best for anyone. Even the person lying on the street.

It does not mean I don’t take action….it doesn’t mean this at all, I have found. But there is no fear, no “hope”, no anxious trying, no waiting, no anger, no frustration.  And I am 100% in my own business. Not anyone else’s. My only job to be my own Hero.

“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world.”~Joseph Campbell

Love, Grace

Mark your calendar for Breitenbush, the end of June! We will be looking at all aspects of what we consider to be flaws in the body, and Un-doing our beliefs about them. Stay tuned if you’d like to join me and Susan Grace Beekman from June 26-30, 2013. You can change your internal beliefs about what you think bodies should be like….and change your entire experience of being in yours.

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