Sink or swim


One basic rule I was taught in Boy Scouts was to never jump in to save a drowning person. The reason is that their own distress in the water will most likely cause you to drown, yourself.  Rather, you should find some other way to save them be it a lifesaver, a paddle or any other object that can help them.

But I think this idea goes for more than just a body of water.  Sometimes we need to apply this lifesaving rule to our own relationships.

I don’t like to see anyone suffer–especially my closest friends and family.  But every once in a while there is that one person, or group of people whose distress is causing us to sink, when we weren’t even drowning in the first place.

There have been times in my life when I have seen people struggling, whether it be an unfortunate circumstance, or their own negative state of mind.  I have tried to help, sometimes it has been a hopeless situation, sometimes it has been a hopeless person.

I haven’t always been thoughtful in the ways I have tried to help, but what I can say is that I always try to put my heart first with good intentions.

Unfortunately, all the good intentions in the world can still be fighting a losing battle, or in this case a sinking ship.  Personally, I don’t think there is a situation or circumstance grim enough that a person can’t offer help.  It is more so whether that help is wanted.

You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.

It’s taken me a long time to learn that lesson.  There have been times when I, trying to help someone in need, whether it be a circumstance bigger than ourselves, or helping someone to just get out of their own way, that I found myself sinking.  I was in a good place, treading in the current, but then comes that person, drowning and looking for the waves to overpower them so they don’t have to deal with trying to get back to shore. And I get lost in the mix.  I start to sink.

After times of feeling  helpless–that I couldn’t help in the right way–I realized that throwing out a lifesaver, is sometimes the best thing to do.  It can be offering an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.  It may be offering a relaxing distraction in a time of chaos.  Whatever it is, it could be the life-changing help without trying to change, or save someone.

But most importantly, offering “simple help” doesn’t set yourself up for disappointment–disappointment of failing someone, or just disappointment in not feeling appreciated after you have gone above and beyond for someone.

If you keep diving in after someone, they will never learn to swim on their own.  And worst of all, if you keep diving in time and time again, you will find yourself sinking instead.


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