As a personal trainer, a massage therapist, and someone who has a genuine desire to help, I am not infrequently approached by those who present their pain and discomfort to me almost as a challenge. "Here are my problems," they seem to say. "Fix me if you can!" And the truth is, there are stretches, exercises, new movement patterns- all kinds of things that can be tried and that are likely to result in positive results. But it requires effort on their part as well as mine. I cannot "fix" anyone who doesn't have a desire to engage in their own fixing. And more times than not, it is exactly a lack of interest in this regard in the first place that has led them to the state they're in. So it's a tricky situation.
They resist my suggestions and refuse to take responsibility for any part of their condition. They prefer to be a victim. So I have to move forward with my hands tied, and their lack of progress is perceived as my failure. It's frustrating, especially since I know from great strides made by other clients, that the story could play out so differently.
And yet, these type of people are all over. We encounter them regularly. They are so strongly identified with their "problem" that they are not really interested in a solution at all, and if one should present itself, they root in, and determine that it won't work for them
. Their problem serves them in some way that we are usually hard-pressed to understand.
We can be loving. We can be patient. We can be tolerant and kind and encouraging; continuing to make gentle suggestions in the direction of a better life. But at some point or other, we have to cut the line, if not physically, then at least emotionally, because they will eventually drain us of our good intentions and pull us down with them.
Still, I have gratitude for these people. They teach us a vital lesson: to allow others to be miserable if that is their choice. We can extend our hand, but if they don't grab it, it's ok. We don't have to understand, or try to fix them, or even think we know better. We can simply be loving and forgiving. We can be happy and healthy, even if they are not.
I can work in partnership with others to help them if they want help. But all those who need it don't really want it, and sometimes the most loving thing I can do is to step back.