I know! It’s the time of year we’re expected to be grateful. So we do more than just talk it up, we put our words into action by giving to others. We get all gassed up thinking of the gratitude we’ll see in the faces of those we’re determined to help.
But here’s the rub: people aren’t necessarily grateful for our efforts. When that happens, we become disillusioned with even trying to help others, and we begin lobbying to cut EBT benefits to those that sorely need them.
Before you rush in all gung ho to be someone’s savior only to come out the other end of the experience a tea party conservative, allow someone who makes a living doing this share some advice on how to be effective when working with others.
Believe it or not, not everyone wants your help. And just because you think someone’s situation needs to improve doesn’t mean they think the same. So make the most effective use of your time by focusing on those that want help.
Not everyone that says they want your help, truly does. Some just want the free stuff. Giving people things can be very helpful, but if that’s all folks want, then they don’t really want to change their situation. Before you start giving money and things to people, ask yourself what is your motivation. If you want to use gifts to facilitate change, expect that person to initiate change before you give the stuff. If all you want to do is give away free stuff, I’d be glad to take it off your hands.
When helping others, it’s important to focus on the big picture and not get stuck in the little details. A family who is struggling financially may have hit a string of bad luck. Or it may be because of drug use. It could be that the man of the house is abusive toward his wife and refuses to allow her to work outside the home, though they need the income. It could be mental illness has incapacitated someone. So be sure to ask not only what’s going on, but why it is.
The greatest gift you can give someone is the honor of hearing their story. Sometimes all a person needs is to be heard, without judgement, and without you rushing to try to fix everything afterward. Everyone deserves to be heard, but those who are willing to be still and listen to another are few and far between. Dare to be one who will listen.
People in need are still people. They have their dignity, and they don’t appreciate you using their misfortune to pat yourself on the back. So help for the sake of helping, and not because you want to feel good about yourself.
It is better to give than receive. But trust me when I tell you that by giving of yourself with no strings attached, you will get back far more than you will ever give. So give of yourself with a loving heart and without expectations. The experience will be totally worth it.