Trying to Help Without Sounding Like a Condescending Jerk
by, 6th-December-2012 at 12:11 PM (12114 Views)
I'm going through a stressful time in my life. My romantic life is all in pieces (though I'm putting it back together little by little), I am totally broke, and I don't even know where I will be living at the end of the week. In response I've been eating more junk food than I care to admit to and sleeping more than I should. However it's at this time that I am letting the idea of mindfulness plant itself in my brain. I've by no means perfected it, but if I can be mindful of my breathing, or of one of my mom's lovely smelling candles, or of the fragrant mug of tea I'm drinking, then that is time I'm not spending worrying about the future.
The lesson popped into my head when I was talking to a friend this evening. She is very worried. She wants to go home to Cameroon next week for her sister's wedding, for the first time in ten years. But she doesn't have her passport yet, she has to take a loan to make the trip, and this is the first time in years she's not getting a Christmas bonus at work. She hasn't been sleeping and says that if her passport doesn't arrive by Saturday she will most likely cry and break a few things.
Now in my mind, I'm thinking, "Mindfulness would help!" That's how I am..when I feel something will help someone else, I just want to gush to them about it. But often I have to control myself because I don't want to sound like the know-it-all walking encyclopedia of answers. She knows that I am Buddhist, so I told her that I am going through hard times too, but mindfulness has helped me not to worry as much. I told her of my situation, and what mindfulness is, and her answer was, "okay." It felt uncomfortable because I felt I'd thrown her a curveball. If I had complained with her, called the people at the passport office rude and incompetent, cursed the economy, and cursed the high plane ticket prices, the conversation would have flowed much more smoothly. Unfortunately there is a thin line between trying to help and sounding condescending. I didn't want to come off like, "I'm more Buddha-like than you, honey!" Not even subtly. How does one do it though, share the helpful insights of Buddhism when they fly in the face of a modern culture where bitching, moaning and panicking are the norm?