Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Being of Help

Those of us involved with the challenges of brain illnesses, whether the illness is challenging us or someone we are trying to help, may depend on how well we are able to help ourselves. Or love ourselves. Being of help, some of us have discovered, is really dependent on our being able to love.

Karen Armstrong, a widely respected author, religious historian and compassion activist, teaches that if we are ever going to be able to love others, we must first learn to love ourselves. If we can’t love ourselves, with all of our past shortcomings and present faults, then loving someone else simply is beyond our capability. The way to learning to love ourselves, Ms. Armstrong suggests, is through compassion--knowing ourselves…accepting ourselves…loving ourselves.

When there is something we know about us, something about ourselves that we are not able to accept that keeps us from loving ourselves, then it is up to us to change it. In fact, we must change it. We must love ourselves so we can learn to love others. There are no shortcuts. Learning to have compassion for ourselves allows us to have compassion for others. Aligned with this concept, I suggest, is that of being of help.

How can we expect to help others if we fall short of being able to help ourselves? Changing the things about ourselves that we don’t like and cannot accept is key. Why don’t we do that? For many of us, the answer is fear. Facing our shortcomings, and accepting them, fills us with so much fear that we avoid going there. That prevents our ever reaching a place of forgiveness.

But love casts out fear, doesn’t it? Yes, perfect love…the love of the fearless.

So this is the way to be of help: fearlessness. We owe it to ourselves and to those we want to help.

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