I’ve always felt the idea of people suggesting to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” when all hope has drained away is not only a waste of time, it’s the height of indifference. Those who jump to criticize may think they see a solution, but there’s no way to guarantee the person being judged will embrace their opinions. Some dig holes so deep that eventually all they see is darkness and all they hear is silence. When hope vanishes, so does our desire to take action. If you’ve ever been in a place so depressing it reaches all the way to your soul, you’ll know what I mean. On occasion I’ve been asked “How do you know when you hit bottom?” In my experience it comes down to having only two choices left, we’re either willing give up completely, or we start screaming for assistance. I prefer to endorse the latter.
I don’t want to give the impression we don’t (usually) own the skills needed to find our way out of unwanted situations, of course we do. In most cases our setbacks are balanced by a combination of exercising the proper emotions and taking necessary actions. Unfortunately, many eventually find themselves slaves to a broken mindset, and that mindset is “Whatever the cost, I want instant gratification.” This manifests in a variety of ways. Drugs and alcohol are probably the most common, but there are others. Gambling, food, shopping, sex, and many others are also themes of self-abuse. The common denominator is they cater to physical cravings rather than mental or spiritual ones. All are designed to change how we feel from the outside in.
When we are deeply lost in nightmarish places, our only way out alive requires bravery. This means we must sidestep our OWN ego, embrace humility, and with loud sincerity, scream for help. Help is therefore the one of the bravest words. While there are certainly legions of people who look for any reason to stomp on us, and are more than happy to see us fail so they can feel “they’re winning the race”, there are actually MORE willing to reach out and help. Not only that, those who offer assistance normally ask for nothing in return, other than to perhaps “pay it forward”. If you believe the opposite, you’ve embraced one of the biggest lies in life.
This is an important step to growth, the first one, but it is NOT the path itself. The journey from desperation to gratitude will require an even more courageous act, and here is where many stumble. The highest act of bravery is embracing help; acceptance is therefore the bravest word. This is where we face a point of no return, and many times the familiarity of pain is more comforting than an unknown future, no matter how promising it looks. When we accept what we ask for, when we are willing to pay any price for salvation, we pass the ultimate test. Unfortunately, we cannot ask for help with conditions attached, it doesn’t work that way. This is why we often hesitate. It means admitting we are broken and unable to stand on our own. We must totally rely on the direction and experience of others if we are to survive. Faith in the hand that reaches out is an act of humility. Trust is the word that embraces the most courage because assistance is ALWAYS under the discretion of those who offer it. We aren’t allowed to make the rules, and failure to accept this can be a massive roadblock to redemption.
How do we determine if a so-called lifeline is a deception, a trick designed to take advantage of our situation? Is there a way to know if the hand willing to pull us from the abyss is the right one? This is easier than it sounds. Ask yourself, “Does this person have in their life what I need in mine? Do they practice what is necessary for nurturing the spirit rather than the exploiting the body? In other words, look inside rather than outside for the characteristics you seek. Evaluation of a potential savior is not that difficult, nor does it take all that much time.
There are some bullet points, that, in my opinion will help refine an assessment of those promising salvation.
- If your first reaction is anger or insult, this is a good sign. Why? Because those who makes you instantly happy are catering (subconsciously) to your old beliefs and patterns, and since this is what’s causing pain and suffering to begin with, you’ll just have to make up your mind this response is both healthy and normal.
- Do they want to clone themselves or or do they simply want help you become the best version of yourself you can be? Most criticize intending to inflate their own ego, they seek to justify their behavior by showcasing how you “aren’t like them”. Those who point out your cracks and flaws without looking for applause are in the correct mindset. This one can difficult to assess, take your time here.
- Everyone has flaws, everyone. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever been told, it’s difficult to practice, but 100% on target. “Do NOT look for examples of the teachings in the teachers, just look for examples of the teachings.” Why? Because when we judge the source before evaluating the information, we lose both instructor and lesson.
If you don’t think I know what I’m talking about, you’re wrong. I’ve been to the edge of oblivion, and I know how it feels. I also know how to get back, and trust me, without a map, we’re forever lost. It really does seem all of mankind’s pain comes from the unwillingness to pull over and ask for directions.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood