Helping Others Versus Self Preservation

Creating characters in fiction is a fun process. It involves part recall and part imagination. Most characters are based in part on real people, or composites of real people, that the author either knows or has heard of.

In real life, our own personal character develops in a more complex way. Some people believe in karmic destiny, in which we choose or attract the circumstances we are born into based upon actions performed in past lives.

I don’t believe in that exactly. I believe that, like everything else, we attract and are attracted to people and situations that reflect our attitudes, emotions, goals, fears, desires, past experiences, and future hopes. I believe that our parents’ state of mind at the time of conception has a lot to do with what type of child they bring into the world at that time.

This happy (or sad) accident of nature and fate determines a lot about who we will become and what we will experience in life. It’s rarely all good or all bad. Usually it is a generous mix of both.

My mother told me that, at the time of my conception, she had been earnestly praying for a child. Welcomed into the world in a prayerful state, I have always had a religious/spiritual bent. She ate little meat during her pregnancy as well. Perhaps, as a result, I have always had a complicated relationship with meat, giving it up for years at a time at various stages in my life.

But the children we get, and the parents we get, also show up to teach us something. Sometimes these lessons are hard and painful. Sometimes early experiences damage us for a lifetime. But if we observe ourselves carefully, we can figure out what our gift is to the world. If we know what rejection, harsh criticism, and neglect feel like, for example, we can become that much more sensitive to how we treat others. We can gain special insights from less than positive experiences and share those insights with people who may feel stuck in negativity.

But, sadly, there are those who never do learn from their poor upbringings. Rather, they become permanently unable to cope with the rigors of life. They may push away anyone and everyone who tries to help. They may blame others, live in a fantasy world, and fail to ever grow. It’s a sad thing to see a beautiful human being spend an entire lifetime trapped in his or her own negative thoughts, perceptions, and actions, but it does happen.

Helping these people without becoming overwhelmed by negativity is a balancing act. You want to help without enabling. You want to hold them up, but not allow them to sabotage the good in your own life. I have found that using my mind to “think up” the right way to help doesn’t work.

Rather, I have to use mindfulness to feel into the right balance between helping others and practicing healthy self-preservation. In other words, I don’t automatically shun “negative” people and their problems. But, at the same time, I am mindful that a panicked drowning person can inadvertently pull you under for good.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is love certain people from a distance, and cheerfully encourage whatever progress they make. This doesn’t make us cruel. It makes us wise.

May you choose your companions carefully this weekend and have a blessed time.

Peace and love,



One thought on “Helping Others Versus Self Preservation

  1. I agree. I think we need balance in our lives. I work with vulnerable people during the week, so at the weekends, it’s nice to have some downtime and do things that I enjoy!


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