Helping vs Enabling

We all face challenges / difficult situations in our lives. It is during our difficult times, the true colors of the people come out; people who genuinely care for you will assist you and encourage you to come out the difficult phase; others would either be indifferent or find comfort in seeing you suffer (these are the people who resented your achievements).

And then there is another scenario wherein you help the people who are in trouble and help them recover from the difficult situation. Yet, those people continue to sulk expecting you to be around for every little thing instead of resume normal activities. If you support this type of behavior, then you are actually not helping but hurting them.

This is the key difference between Helping and Enabling:

The following story narrates this key difference so beautifully through the life cycle of a butterfly:

A young boy returning from school would daily be mesmerized by a hanging cocoon in a nearby garden. He was excited knowing it would soon rip open, transforming the caterpillar within into a beautiful butterfly. And alas, one day the cocoon was visibly torn! The boy stood still and watched the miracle of nature take place. The butterfly had started to emerge, but as it struggled, it got stuck halfway. Out of mercy, the boy took a pair of scissors and cut the cocoon open, forcing the butterfly to the ground. The boy waited for the butterfly to lift up and fly, but instead, it found it squirming on the ground with shriveled wings and a swollen stomach. He thought that this would soon be corrected—the wings would fill up and the stomach would shrink. But what he did not realize was that this would never happen now. The struggle of pulling itself out of the cocoon was necessary for the butterfly to push the fluid from its stomach to the wings. Without that struggle, the stomach would remain swollen and the wings shriveled, leaving it crippled.

Similarly, when we face challenges and difficulties, we look for someone to snip them away without realizing that they are there for a purpose. They are God’s way of helping us fill our wings for the divine flight to the ultimate perfection. Without challenges, we would ever remain stunted. In facing them, we grow emotionally in wisdom, spiritually, intellectually, and mentally.

Saint Kabir said, “Saintly people are like gold — you break them a hundred times and they will join again, whereas evil-minded people are like the potter’s pot — broken once, they remain forever broken.

So, before you try to assist someone, see if that person really needs help or something that the person is capable of.

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