If you stop to think about it, self-help leads directly back to one's own navel pretty fast. In the midst of an "it's all about me" culture, Self Help seems to make sense. Yet, some of the most fulfilled lives have been spent considering, fighting for, writing about and trying to understand others.
What then, of the Oxygen Mask idea? Put your own mask on so you don’t snuff it before you even get the chance to assist someone else. Doesn't that suggest that selfishness is almost required before you can assist another?...
There is certainly evidence that helping others can be done without loving ourselves first. Even Mother Theresa had doubts about God, her faith and her mission. She wrote about that.
This rather implies that you don’t need belief in order to help people. I’ve also tested in my life and with clients, the idea that when you feel a bit low, going out and giving someone a hand can lift your mood. So do we really need all the self-rescue before being able to lead a useful, and enjoyable life?
One of two most wonderful books ever written is by Rachel Naomi Remen and called My Grandfather's Blessings (Kitchen Table Wisdom is the other) she writes about the nature of healing, service and her work with others. To me, she suggests we can serve others from wherever we are, wounded, depressed and without faith or hope. She says that as a medical doctor with Krone’s disease: "I have served people impeccably with parts of myself that embarrass me, parts of which I am ashamed." (pg198)
No Self-Help required.
Service to others does lift me, I’ve found. But I’ve also found that I can’t use assisting others as my excuse to turn my attention completely away from my health, living a consciencious life, abandoning my truth or not setting boundaries. Maybe we’ve just confused self-help with “ridding ourselves of all defects.” And good luck with that....
Can I help others if I never take steps to help myself? Probably not that much. Can I help others without being totally perfect myself? Probably lots.
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