Helping Others Needs to Be a Two Way Street
Most of us have been raised thinking it’s appropriate to be generous, kind, loving and helpful to others. In in today’s world with so much suffering, we are increasingly asked to reach out and help. And if we can and are willing to do so, without strings attached, we should. Sharing the wealth of heart and wallet is a good thing.
But the key here is to do so while allowing the other person to have dignity. Every human being has a sense of pride and self-worth, and truly no one wants to beg for assistance if they can help it. When giving aid in any form, whether it’s advice, money, clothing or food, be sure to allow the recipient to have dignity.
Kevin Hall, in his wonderful book Aspire, explains it eloquently when he tells the story of Pravin and “genshai.” Genshai means never treating another person in a way that would make them feel small. So if you are giving money to a beggar, you don’t toss a coin to them, you get down to their level, look them in the eye and smile. Then you give them the money and say “bless you.” You are treating them with respect.
An interesting twist on this is to practice genshai with yourself. Never treat yourself in a way that would make you feel small. And most of us do this regularly. We criticize ourselves mercilessly, judging our actions and finding fault. All that does is lower our self-esteem and create guilt and resentment patterns against ourselves. If you feel you did something in a less than perfect way, forgive yourself and move on. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others.
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