There are times when “doing nothing” is appropriate. This appropriateness can have multiple meanings. It can mean backing off and allowing someone to grow as an individual even though you want to jump in and save the day; the giving of time and space in a relationship waiting for things to settle, tempers to calm before revisiting a particular touchy conversation or the possibility of reconciliation at which hopefully cooler heads has prevails and clarity and perspective has entered into the equation; the acceptance of significant changes that has reshaped the foundation of a relationship or the letting go of relations and associations that has run its course.
Other times the appropriateness of “doing nothing” can be painfully debilitating and soul crushing because of the pervasive helplessness that comes as a result of not being able to do anything physically, financially or verbally that could change the landscape of any given situation you are facing or help transform its circumstances. The only real requirement is to be there, to continually show up, be supportive by the mere act of your presence, to sit quietly, to hold a hand, to read a book, to laugh uproariously uninhibited, to sing a song, to speak endlessly about something, nothing and everything.
Each complexity of “doing nothing” requires enormous inner strength, discipline, self-control, requiring us to be compassionate, considerate and a wee bit altruistic i.e. selfless setting aside the ego which by no stretch of the imagination an easy task because it requires us to not look for the benefits i.e. a payback to ourselves for the giving of ourselves, to not make it about the “I”, the me, me, me, me and what “we” want/can get out of that moment or situation. This can be challenging.
I find that lately I have been challenged by this pervasive sense of helplessness because I wish I can wave a wand and have my friend’s daily pain with health challenges go away or offer solutions that would reduce her struggle significantly. I am frustrated by what I feel like my inability to really do anything that would ease her constant agonizing aches which she manages remarkably well I might add. I am also cognizant that to dwell to long in this frame of thinking is to make it about me, about what I can and cannot do and frankly sometimes the situation just requires one to show up and be there and understand that in doing so it is enough even though it may feel woefully inadequate.
What I have learned is to be patient with myself, to be open and ready and to do what you can in whatever capacity you can and know that it is enough. To ask “is there anything I can do for you?” “What can I do for you know?” And have the person let you know how best you can help. Sometimes helping them may mean supporting their loved ones, family members struggling to cope, to come to terms with the situation and sometimes it may mean just being there even if you have nothing to say or do because your presence says and means everything even when you think it’s too little.
Helping can mean so many things and cannot be confined to material things, or defined simply with the corporealness of doing things. Helping is everything imaginable and unimaginable and when you are at a lost as to what to do, just ask – what can I do for you today and be willing to follow through, rise up and be present.
Have a blessed day. Please sign my GUESTBOOK.
Graphic in this post called ‘white factual angel wings’ is by shadoweddancer