I have been meaning to write this for some time now. The actual reason is my frustration with the world that sometimes becomes overwhelming. There are days no matter where I look at there is nothing but pain and misery and trouble. And truth is, we do live in a world that is characterised by imperfection, pain and lots of trouble. However, if someone focuses onto that part of the world, they are guaranteed to go insane in a very small amount of time. All we can do is concentrate on what's right, on the positive parts of our lives, and slowly try to improve the negative, one thing at a time, baby steps, one by one.
That said, I would like to say a few things on help.
Help is a very tricky thing.
Generally speaking, help is seen as something good and the people offering help are viewed as "kind".
This is a very popular misconception, because most people who offer help do it for all the wrong reasons and in a very wrong way. I'll try not to get into too much detail here, but give a few hints on problem solving instead.
Please try to help when you can, if you can. But don't get out of your own way to do it.
What do I mean by this?
Before getting involved in the first place, ask yourselves: Do I have the time and energy for this? If your energy levels are below the ground and you're up to your neck with your own problems, learn to say no. Unless you can keep your own head out of the current you cannot help anyone else do so. Don't worry, someone else will take care of that person's problem. If you let them. It's not your job or responsibility to be always available and willing, because this means you do not respect yourself and your own needs. And if you don't respect yourself, very soon you'll have very serious problems of your own. Learn to say no, unless you want to spend the rest of your life babysitting. You don't want to create needy people that depend on you to make up their mind about everything and anything.
You cannot solve other people's problems. I have been thinking I can solve other people's problems for years. It's another very popular misconception. You cannot do that, and it's not your job or responsibility to do that.You can listen and give advice, but always keep in mind your advice is good for you. It may not be suitable for the other. You can't solve their problem because all problems are results of past actions and the person who finds themselves with a problem has made a choice in the past that resulted in the present problem. They need to learn. Don't interfere in other people's learning process. If you were teaching someone to ride a bicycle, what would you do? You cannot learn to ride the bicycle FOR them. You can tell them what to do, you can hold them steady, but the rest they have to do for themselves. They may scrape their knees, get a few bruises, but sooner or later, they'll make it. Let them do this. They need it.
Sometimes all a person needs is perspective. We get immersed into our problems so much that we think it's the end of the world. It's not. No matter what your problem is, it's something you can somehow face, solve, or ignore; in some cases it will go away on its own after completing its cycle (much like a common cold, or flu). No matter what is happening to you or someone else, remember: somewhere else in the world someone loses a person they love and they can do nothing about it. There are those who die, or are crippled, or in terrible physical pain, or lose their homes, or jobs, or sanity even as you read this. No matter what your problem is, put it into perspective, take heart, and be strong. There is someone else in a much much worse place than you are. Be grateful for what you have, don't take it for granted. Nothing is for granted. Nothing. Try to remind this to the people with the problem without making light of their pain or feelings.
One more point to consider is: is the person with the problem really interested in solving it? Do keep an eye on the progress they make. Some people are slow learners, so don't worry overly much. Some people want just to get something off their chest and need a friendly ear. That's OK too. But there are those people who habitually moan. Be particularly careful with them. In reality they don't want to solve their problem. They want your attention and energy. You can tell them apart from those in genuine distress because attention seekers always have the same problem. Every possible hint and idea you come up with is just "no good" because they cannot be bothered to change anything about the way they live their lives. They want a solution handed out to them in a silver platter that magically involves no effort on their behalf. They moan how no-one cares and loves them and there is a cosmic conspiracy against them, but they never offer any help to anyone (unless it involves the chance to relate all the details of their problem and gain more audience.) They are the so-called vampires, or drama queens. They always go and make the same poor choices which gives them the same problems in the long run, and can never understand why "god hates them". They are far too lazy to chase or do anything and they cannot understand why they cannot find a job or nothing changes in their lives. Steer clear of such people; they have the magical ability to turn gold into shit. Kind of Midas, the king of fable, in reverse.
Last but no least, ask yourselves: What about your problems? Have you solved them to the degree this is possible? Are you getting involved in someone else's life because you want to avoid your own problems? Do you give advice because it makes you feel important or useful? Can you maintain a healthy distance from the problems of others or do you make them your own? Be honest with yourself. If you are not certain about your motives, then don't get involved. If you cannot maintain a healthy distance, then don't get involved. If you have a million problems of your own you can't make heads or tails of, then don't get involved. It's not cruel or uncaring. It's honest, and truth will get you a long way...