I would say to anyone wanting to become any kind of helper, no matter what their title, is helpers must love and listen.
This is manifest over and over in interactions with so-called consumers, clients, people in trouble, at risk, in transition, recovery, well and not so well. Folks like you and me trying to find their way.
Each of us is whole and complete and able within ourselves, capable of finding solutions within ourselves, finding a way to navigate our troubled waters, Though the solutions we are within us, sometimes we need help. We often use “helpers,” but we are never truly helpless.
Why Helpers Must Love
Seeking and giving help engenders respect, dignifies those you might serve. They are not their circumstances, troubles or infirmity. A helping relationship enhances the power and greatness of both the helped and the helper. It says love is the way to be with this person who may be struggling or lost.
Helpers must love and listen for their clients’/peers’ love and power, speak to this from the love within you. After 40 years in the game, this is my way to help, and have miracles happen.
Love is more than what I see and believe, more than my judgments or personal biases, values, or any B.S. story I might have made up about them. Love and respect for who they and I truly are and what we have been endowed with.
Help Without Love Can Do Harm
Science, religion, and human nature can get in the way. Sitting in a drop-in center next to a filthy man, reeking of urine and alcohol, sullen and surly, it is easy to judge, to assume they need your “help.”
This kind of judgment gives us a system of institutionalized, authoritarian co-dependency, where problems and people are managed, budgeted, marginalized, and commercialized, but all too seldom loved or respected or seen as capable people, able to solve their own problems.
I try to hold everyone in the highest regard. For me this is the starting place, the most useful thing I can share from 40 years farther along in this helping thing.
Here’s the miracle of it: once you are able to be this way with people, no matter what their circumstances, you become the space from which love and healing will and must emerge. Start there, and all the angst will take care of itself. — all book learning, theories, experience and resources aside.
When I hear the word consumer, I hear “hero,” or “heroine.” When I hear illness, I hear new and great possibility. When I think of helping, I know I will be learning and growing — serving.
Does knowing helpers must love, not judge, change how you will treat people?