How to Make a Real Difference
By Colleen-Joy Page
Are you a Fixit? In other words, are you someone who tries to help others or wants to make a difference but then feels the frustration of just how big a job you always seem to have? This more challenging soul lesson, will explore these two important questions...
1. Why do you want to help?
2. How can you make a real difference?
I do hope that this lesson gives you insight and a fuller understanding, so that you can make the difference your heart calls you to make without losing your self to being a "fixit".
You see someone in pain and you want to help them.
You look at the world and are moved by sadness to try to fix what you see.
"If only they would listen to me, I have the solutions, I know what they should do to heal, to be happy," are the thoughts that run through your mind and tug at your heart.
"I want my life to have meaning and purpose, I want to make a difference and not die before I've done something of significance in the world," you hear your inner plea.
These are the inner callings of many of us. Many who are drawn to metaphysics and spirituality are drawn out of these inner promptings. Let's look deeply at "trying to help", "trying to fix" and exactly what it takes to make a real difference in the lives of others.
Picture this. You are in an audience listening to a teacher. The teacher then finds the shyest person in the group. She tells the shy person to come and stand in front. She instructs everyone including the shy person to say nothing, but to be in silence and just to look at each other. The teacher then steps aside and you are left to look at the pain of the shy person who is visibly shrinking before your eyes. Imagine this situation and identify how you would feel. Then answer this:
- How do you feel towards the shy person up front?
- How do you feel about the teacher?
- Do you feel angry?
- What do you want to do right now?
- What do you want to change?
- Who do you feel sorry for?
- Do you feel discomfort or pain in your body?
- Can you easily look at the shy person?
- Can you look at the shy person in the eyes?
- Do you wish you could help?
- Do you want to fix this if you could?
Let's get deep into the truth so that it frees us to make the difference we want to make. This example is like life. We see pain, we see suffering and it hurts. We respond and our response ironically often prevents us from actually making a real difference. In this example, you most likely felt the pain and suffering of the shy person. It's not nice feeling other people's pain, because it's not nice feeling pain full stop! The truth is that we are all so connected to each other that we literally can and do feel other people's pain. Like tuning in to their "radio station", we hear their sad music in our own bodies. We shrink back at first, we don't want to feel it, but when it's in our face, we don't know how to stop the pain. Our bodies try to find a solution because we want the pain to go away.
There are 3 fear-based "make it go-away" solutions and 1 soul-based solution.
- Solution 1: We can try getting numb, switching off our feelings!
- Solution 2: We can redirect our emotional attention as anger towards the perceived "perpetrator"
- Solution 3: We can try to fix the source of the pain by trying to "help".
How often have you felt these things? And in the long term, do any of them really work, do any of these solutions make a real difference, when coming from this fear or discomfort with pain? No. Because any action born of fear or by trying to evict/kill/eliminate something doesn't create permanent change.
Before we look at the 4th solution that is not based in fear or a "go-away" response, let's get digging into the truth again, so that we have true awareness about what we do and why we do what we do.
There is no shame in trying to help. Don't feel bad for being someone who tries to help. We are all doing the best we can with the tools we've got. But lets get honest and clear, so that have a better shot at actually doing what we say we are doing - which is making a difference!
On the surface helping feels noble, it looks like we are being "good" people, caring people. But let's go deeper than the surface. Let's use our example again. When the shy person placed in front of us (representing anyone in our lives that we perceive as suffering) - we felt their pain. This reveals that the deeper than surface truth about what often drives our desire to help is - we want the PAIN TO GO AWAY, and so we want to fix them to fix us. Don't let your ego blindfold this one. Much of the desire to help others has its roots in wanting to not feel the pain of others.
Now does it really work to help from this inner motivation? When the shy person feels an entire audience of people's bodies shouting at them energetically that they don't want to feel her pain and that they want it to go away, how do you think she feels? Is she being supported and held? Or is she being judged and feared? Even if some in the audience are trying to be nice, smiling and trying to soften the harshness of the experience for her - her body will feel the truth. Her body will hear - "go away!" So now, she will not only feel the pain of her shyness, she will now have the added intuitive knowing that she is making many others suffer too. She will feel the "go away" feeling under the surface of sympathy, under the guise of others wanting to help her. She will feel the discomfort of the audience compounding the discomfort caused by her inadequacy. So is the audience actually helping?
Even if someone defended her and verbally started telling off the teacher - what is the message she is getting, is it helping her to grow, to be more, and to heal. Even if someone in the audience managed to communicate to the shy lady "I'll help you, it's ok" what is the deeper truth here. Is it helping her or is it helping the audience to feel better, to feel less powerless, and to ease their discomfort and pain?
When others try to fix you and you sense their deeper feelings of discomfort of being with you, does it work? Do you find yourself beautifully growing and healing? No. Likely you will sense the judgment, sense that something about you is not being accepted and loved, and this will prompt you to withdraw deeper into the pain and isolation of your wounds.
The "fix it" approach - pluses and minuses
"I'm only trying to help you!" sounds loving and kind, but where does it come from? If we are deeply honest, it comes from a place of superiority, like a "plus" looking at a "minus" feeling like it must do something to help.
Seeing another as a minus (as a less than, weaker or smaller than) only reinforces their staying there. The plus person will also feel irritation and anger if the minus person doesn't "do what's best", because then the plus then has to continue to feel the minus' pain and even carry the burden of the consequences of minus' actions. Here both loose. The plus takes on the responsibility for another's happiness losing freedom and joy - and the minus is robed of more power and is further weakened.
Remember that sometimes this approach pretends to work, when the minus changes to please the plus, but they will do it for approval and to avoid the ill feelings they create by not being as the plus wants them to be. Is this real? Is this making a real difference?
The "honor it as it is" approach - equal to
On the other hand, what is it like to be with someone that truly sees you completely, pain, warts and all, and DOESN'T want to fix you? They don't shrink back from your pain; they accept you for where you are and what you are. There is no agenda, no hope that you will change "for your own good", no deeper prompting on their part to "help you", but rather they see you as being equal to your own issues, to see you as equal to your own life, to see you as a capable adult, as a powerful soul. They don't see you as smaller than your destiny or life experiences. They honor your choices and honor you as you are, without subtext. Ironically this may look like a "hands off", powerless approach, but think about which approach ultimately works to facilitate true and lasting transformation to make a real difference. Ironically when we are loved and accepted we free ourselves of our pain, we heal and we become all that we were born to be!
If the audience watching the shy person held a different perspective in their bodies and saw the shy person as "equal to" rather than "smaller than" her situation, her body would have been feeling a very different message from the group. Instead of feeling their discomfort and picking up that they were seeing her as "smaller than", communicating "go away!" to her body. She would rather feel them saying "stay" you are seen and accepted, we see you as equal to your experience. Guess what would happen then? Instead of shrinking before your eyes, she would grow, she would rise to the experience and you would be making a real difference to her!
When helping is hurting
All aspects of the physical world exist in polarities, in opposites. Light, dark, up down, in out, etc. When you engage in one polarity, you automatically engage the other (even if you are unconscious to this). The polarity for helping is hurting.
- We help, in order not to hurt.
- The desire to help is motivated by hurt.
- When someone is hurting and you try to help, they may feel your helping as hurt because they have the right to their pain and now you burden them with judgment and with the intrinsic knowing that their pain is hurting you. They may accept your help just to not hurt you more.
- By rejecting someone's help you risk hurting them, especially if they have any emotional attachments to "helping you", i.e. they will feel hurt if you don't change.
Helping and hurting are co-dependent. They can't exist without each other. If you believe one, you believe in the other. Don't pretend that you can help and not hurt.
Help needs something hurt in order for it to exist. Now strangely hurt needs help to exist! They feed off each other. They fit. Like 2 jigsaw pieces, the indent of hurt, calls for the projection of help to create a fit.
Healers and therapists, all people who make a living from "helping", may find it enlightening and freeing, to be especially conscious and aware of this dynamic. For one, doing your work from a place of trying to help creates co-dependency with your clients. You make the client responsible for your "success" and happiness. Because if they don't get "helped" and change you will feel like a failure and hurt. Does that really foster the space needed for your clients to heal and be free?
Helpers carry the pain of failure
To be a helper is to carry the fear and pain of failure. When we are attached to hoping that our "medicine" will work for others, we endure countless losses and failures - our failure to make the changes we want to see. By trying to change others, we are fighting with truth. And therefore we will always be ineffective. Why? Because no one can heal anyone or change anyone. Can anyone truly change you without your permission and making the change happen? Only the self has the power to heal the self. If we are honest, we may even feel resentment and bitterness at others not taking our medicine, or not accepting our help.
Many talented and gifted people destroy their work and potential to make a real difference, because of their "helping" stance.
External focus, versus internal focus
When you are in "Help" mode, you are externally focussed. You are looking at the focus of your help; you are focused on the other. In that moment you become entangled in them. You become vulnerable to their opinions, and attached emotionally to their success or failure. You take their stuff personally and you carry their "stuff" with you. The other person will feel this to. They may even feel the weight of responsibility for your pain. Not only must they heal for themselves not, they must heal to make you feel good. The circle of helping and hurting, the co-dependency is now complete. They are trying to help you now, to make you feel better; they feel guilty about hurting you while you are being so nice by trying to help them. They either withdraw, feeling the weight of disappointing you, or they try to change for you! Changing for others is never authentic and ultimately leaves you feeling a lack of wholeness.
Is this what you really wanted? Is this the end that you had in mind for the person you were trying to help? So know we must ask ourselves, are we really helping by trying to help? When we are not comfortable with our own pain or with feelings of powerless, we unconsciously engage in disempowering others by trying to be responsible for their healing.
The truth, a soul-based solution that actually works
Do you have the courage to accept people for who they are? It takes far more real work, real honesty, real healing to do this. In the moment you feel acceptance, you will know love and freedom. Ironically it is this place that frees us, heals us, and liberates us to long term change. It is this place that makes the difference.
Wholeness is the healed and enlightened us. Wholeness is all of you balanced, no part forced bigger or trying to be smaller out of fear and pain. Wholeness is conscious and aware. Wholeness is the goal of all soul growth and all healing. It is a still place of freedom, balance, peace and wisdom.
If wholeness looks like a perfect circle then a lack of wholeness looks like a jigsaw piece with holes. Our souls are whole. When in a human form we react to pain and fear and distort who we are to fit in and to hide parts of ourselves to avoid pain. Be gentle with yourself, the healing of the jigsaw is not a "fix it job" either!
You don't need fixing you need freeing.
You are already whole, your natural state of being is whole. It takes great effort and pain to be a jigsaw, to hold parts of yourself back and exaggerate other parts. Remember therefore that other people's jigsaws don't need fixing either, and the moment you engage in fixing their jigsaw from a place of pain or discomfort at their holes, you reveal your holes and take on a jigsaw shape yourself. Then neither of you are in wholeness! Remember that the other's true form is also whole. If they forget the best way to remind them is to BE whole yourself and stay whole while engaging with them. Not easy to do, but doable and at least it works!
If you think that you are whole but emotionally "need" in any way for another to change, you are deceiving yourself. Only holes need and have emotional attachments to any outcomes. An emotional attachment and need feels disappointment, irritation or judgment about something not changing. judgment is seeing something as "better" or "lesser", "good" or "bad. You are coming from a jigsaw place, not a whole place. It may seem strange, but a jigsaw really doesn't help. A jigsaw perpetuates pain, need and holes. Even when it's "helping", and "giving" and looking kind, this jigsaw is actually trying to heal itself by getting entangled in other jigsaws - which doesn't work.
When you help from your 'wholeness', you won't give and help like a jigsaw does. Jigsaw helping, reinforces holes and prevent wholeness instead of creating it. Can 2 jigsaws locked into each other's fit create wholeness for each other? - No.
Own that it is impossible for anyone to make another whole. And the moment you try to, you always lose your wholeness by becoming a jigsaw yourself. A jigsaw that will actually keep them in their jigsaw place of need and holes and not really make a difference.
But how does a whole, perfect circle make a difference then? How can we all make a difference in the world? Surely we don't just sit by smugly and watch others suffer by doing nothing? You can make a difference; in fact you can make a huge difference. It's just in a way that may surprise you.
Doing what actually works
We've all being doing the best we could with the tools we've had and yet the world still looks the same and pain and suffering are everywhere. Let's be aware enough to know what really works and what doesn't. We can stop putting energy into what doesn't work and what creates more pain, and put energy into what actually works and actually helps.
A "whole circle" looks detached and uninvolved, even uncaring to others sometimes. But it makes more of a difference, it works!
How to make a real difference:
Don't be a jigsaw helping from the darkness of your holes. Love yourself free, and you will be a light that reminds others of the light within themselves.
- Look after your wholeness. Work on your suppressed qualities and exaggerated ones, not on others. Work on accepting the judged parts of your self and others.
- Take responsibility for your buttons, mirrors and pain.
- Be internally focussed (you focused) and not externally focussed (other focussed). Is it actually none of your business?
- Don't distort your true self to please others - this is not wrong, it just hurts and you loose your self.
- By not becoming a jigsaw to help others. Pity, sympathy and wanting to help from a place of "I give the medicine" creates plus/minus relationships and not equal ones. Be the medicine, by being true, whole and by radiating that from your accepting, loving presence.
- By not wanting others to feed your inner lacks and needs, including the need for them to heal or become anything other than what they are.
- By staying whole, which is true, free and compassionately detached.
- By seeing the wholeness in others
- By loving yourself more than needing others to love you.
- Sometimes the most loving act is to say "no" and place boundaries.
- Sometimes the most loving act is to say "yes" and stay open hearted.
- By seeing others as equal to their cocoons, to their pain and struggle.
- By not shrinking back, by staying present with love and acceptance.
- By being a role model for what is possible.
- By DOING from a place of wholeness, which may still look like giving from the outside but it has no attachment to outcomes, to helping to avoid hurting, it accepts others choices and others truth.
- Remember that if you try to avoid hurt by helping you create a pendulum polarity swing that ultimately makes more hurt. Look hurt in the eyes, be equal to it and accept it also.
- Express your whole self with joy and love.
You make the most difference in the world by being the whole YOU - without masks, without holes, without agenda. Ironically, selfishly looking after you becomes the way to make a maximum difference to others. From this awareness the thoughts that we started this article with change to...
You see someone in pain; you feel compassion and see them as equal to their pain. You love them for their courage and support them by letting them be in pain.
You look at the world and are in awe at the courage of the souls you see, and are moved to free more of yourself from pain to peace.
"If only I would listen to me, I have the solutions for me, I know what I should do to heal, to be happy" are the thoughts that run through your mind finding pathways to free your heart.
"My life has meaning and purpose. I make a difference just by being alive. I've done something of significance in the world by working to be whole" you hear your inner truth fill you.
An apple tree doesn't help, it doesn't try to fix others by "giving" apples. Will an apple tree make apples even if they fall rotten to the ground, unwanted and unused? Yes. The orchard is very grateful that the apple tree is true enough to itself to express who it is unfettered. In that way the apple tree makes the difference it was born to make. An apple tree isn't giving, it isn't helping. It is being true to itself. And by being true to itself it expresses who it is through all that it does. It knows it is being true because it feels great joy at making apples. It would feel empty trying to make oranges, even if people were begging for oranges, saying "please help us we need oranges". By not focusing on externals, by being true to itself, it makes the most difference.
Love yourself free and you will bring the gift of your presence to the world. That is truly what makes all the difference.
Copyright © Colleen-Joy Page 2006
From the office of Colleen-Joy Page, The Academy of Metaphysics. Colleen specializes in training others in powerful tools like intuition and dream work. To find out about her InnerLifeSkills interactive CD and workbook home study course, visit Inner Life Skills