Creative Commons License photo credit: jeramy lim

This article is a continuation of the theme I brought up in a previous article entitled How to Skillfully Deal With Suffering in the World. In my personal experience, after I set out on a many facetted journey of personal development, I really began to notice things such as how truly unhealthy some of my friends and other people were. The feeling I had was that without some sort of intervention that produced change they were on a direct path to severe illness, unhappiness and premature death. The image is of a train on a railway line heading full speed for disaster. Something is needed to force the train to jump the tracks.

How though should we go about producing change? Despite the love and concern we may feel for others, as legitimate and genuine as our concerns for another person may be. As challenging as it may be to watch others live and behave in a way that we believe to be self-destructive. We should not try to change other people. In reality it is almost impossible for one person to change another. Despite the fervor we may feel for them to make the change that we think is vital so that they can enjoy a life that is healthier and happier.

I’m sure you have experienced just how defensive your own ego can be when presented with a situation where another ego is attempting to change it. The thought may cross your mind that perhaps the change you wish to wrought is so vital that it is worth the destruction of the relationship. That if the cost of producing the change is the end of a friendship, then so be it. However, the end result is most likely to be the end of the relationship with hurt feelings all round and still no beneficial change.

You may try to tell another that they need to change their habits. Perhaps their diet and lifestyle is leading them towards diabetes, heart disease and premature death. Sadly anything you say, however well intentioned, is most likely to be interpreted as criticism or an attempt by one ego to change another. Remember, a particular person’s state of being has been created by that person for himself or herself. They have repeatedly validated and justified their state of being to themselves.

So how can we truly help another person? From my own experience and drawing upon the wisdom of others I can tell you that the only way to truly help others is to show them what it looks like to live the principles you are trying to impress upon them. Show them what health and happiness looks like. They may not even have conceived of the possibility of things being otherwise to how they are. So if you truly wish to help another person you must live the example of what you wish for them to become.

Once again I return to Gandhi, he said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

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