One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that the best way to help someone may be by not helping them.
Today is the first day of Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within seminar in Dallas. While I’m not serving at this one, I’ve participated in or volunteered at a dozen of these events and I know what will happen for some participants.
Tonight, participants will receive an amazing opportunity to step into their fears and prove to themselves that they can storm through any challenge that life throws at them, by participating in the firewalk.
Most will choose to participate.
Some will leave before the firewalk even starts. They’ll claim they are tired or some other reason that sounds rational.
Others will go outside. They’ll have their shoes off. They will wait in line. And then they’ll walk away before they complete the mission.
The Value of Emotional Pain
Sometimes we think we are ready to change, but we need to feel more deeply the disempowerment that comes from giving into the mind’s excuses before we are truly ready to step into our power.
For some people, not walking the coals is exactly what they need to cross the threshold in their personal journey.
They need to feel the pain of shrinking back, yet again, from opportunity. The pain of giving up at the moment just before everything turned around. The pain of regret.
At every event, I’ve met people who skipped the firewalk. The next day, hearing the euphoria of the people around them, they felt the pain of their inaction.
I can’t believe I didn’t do it, just because I was a little tired.
I’ve met many people at events who returned specifically to do the firewalk after skipping it the first time. Invariably, they have made other profound shifts in the interim.
Some people must be in their suffering for longer before they are ready to heal. They need to feel that disappointment in themselves after turning back at the threshold.
Helping By Holding Space
Like most people, my engrained instinct is to help someone in pain by finding ways to ease their pain or make it better. I want to offer a soothing word, a sympathetic ear, a hug, or at least a shoulder to cry on.
Isn’t that what we all want when we’re in an emotional pain?
One of the most important and profound lessons I’ve learned in my journey has been that this type of “helping” isn’t always helpful.
Some people learn that in their moments of pain they receive love, connection, and the support that otherwise eludes them. Removing the sting of the pain and offering them what they seek conditions them to stay in that place.
When we try to ease others’ pain — or our own — we remove the catalyst necessary for transformation.
Allowing people the space to be in their pain has been one of my biggest challenges. It feels counter-intuitive. Sometimes even mean.
What I’ve learned through my own journey is that the seeds of transformation lay deep within the belly of that dark place we try to avoid.
Sometimes the best thing we can do to help others — and ourselves — is to hold space for the experience of suffering.