The Art of Being Helpful

Patience is a virtue, or so they say. The dictionary says patience is the ability or willingness to withstand or to endure discomfort, to stay even-tempered when faced with provocation and to remain without complaint. This means patience is the ability to coexist or show tolerance. So therefore, patience is a talent. Some have it. Others, not so much.

Our ability to interact is a talent as well. There are people who support change and promote growth. They do this lovingly and wholesomely. There are people in this world who celebrate the advancement of people around them. And of course, there are other people who don’t.

There is a demonstration that I have seen in different ways. I have seen this shown by different people and each time, their descriptions were unique. However, the spirit of the demonstration remains true.

Take two regular cigarette lighters. Both lighters are representations of people. One lighter is placed in a glass. The glass represents life. Water is used as a representation of life’s terms.
Now, add stress. Add anxiety. Add life problems. Add financial problems. Each of these issues are equal to a splash of water that flows into the glass. Every splash drowns the cigarette lighter at the bottom of the glass. 

Next: removing the lighter from the glass, the demonstrator shows that rolling a thumb across the top of the lighter will no longer produce the necessary spark to create the flame. 

I offer that this is a representation of what people feel like when they’re drowning in the emotional quicksand. They still have the ability on the inside to create the flame but due to their circumstances, they lack the spark to do so. 
However, it is important to remember that there is more than one lighter in this demonstration. It is also important to remember that both lighters in this demonstration are used as a symbolic representation of people.
Therefore, when the one lighter has been drowned by life’s terms and lost its spark, the benefit of support is that just when you think that you’ve lost all hope, someone is there to lend you their spark- and just like that, they’ve helped you light your fire again. 

It isn’t always easy to be helpful. Then again, patience is a virtue.
It’s a talent to show patience and so, it is a talent to be tolerant; it is a talent to endure or resist action. It is a talent to be forgiving or to be permissive and progressive. Like I mentioned earlier, some people in this world are truly talented. Others, not so much.

Where does this come from?
What makes some people patient and others not so much?

The ability to show patience is the ability to accept a person or situation for what it is. However, patience is also the ability to withstand a challenge and though difficult, it takes patience to be consistent and persistent. 

For example, there are sales people whose job is to call as many people as they can in the span of an 8-hour work period. Rejection is common with jobs like this.
However, some people are able to remove their emotional outlook on this and therefore, they achieve a strategic approach to their job. This means that although they are faced with rejection, they never internalize this. They do not personalize it, which means they can continue with their work and be unmoved by the word, “No!”

(An acronym here that has helped me is this: N.A.T.O. No Attachment To Outcome. As people, we are in the effort business, not the results business.)

Patience shows the ability to teach as well as learn because it takes both to be a patient person. I grant that it’s not easy to be patient. It’s not always easy to help someone or show support. Meanwhile; it’s like they never listen – or as some of my teachers and mentors used to tell me, “It’s like I’m talking to myself over here!”

Our ability to show patience is in direct relation to our personal inventory. For example, I have watched teachers lose their patience in a classroom.
I have witnessed teachers who interact with young students in ways that I would never accept if this were me or my child or anyone who I love and care for.
I can say that as a student who lived with my own challenges, teachers who failed to show patience were teachers who used shame-based language – and by the way, this only made matters worse.

We use words like stupid, idiot, retarded, and to be clear, none of these are good words to use. These are harsh words of judgment. They are not supportive or helpful yet there are people who swear that tough love is the only love.
I’m not sure that I agree with this.

If we destroy the spirit of a person, we can destroy the person as well. Whether this is at work or whether this is because we showed someone how to log in to their computer countless times and they still can’t get it – or, if this is a personal matter and we are like bystanders who witness a loved one that continues to make the same mistakes – our patience is a direct relation to our inventory and our ability to accept and be nonjudgmental. 

Think of it this way:
Directions on a page or instructions are unmoved and unemotional. These are simple. Directions and instructions are never frustrated, regardless of how many times they are referred to. This is a human error. This consists of us and our relationship with our own learning process.

I have seen new hires enter into the executive leagues yet there is a learning period in which people who work under them might be resentful.
And why’s that?
“Did you meet the new boss yet?
“Did you see how they dress?
“And those shoes, I mean, what were they thinking when they bought them??”

The answer here is judgment.
The answer could be resentment; as if to say, “What are you asking me how to log into your computer for? You’re the new boss, right? You’re the new executive? Didn’t they teach you how to log in and use an office printer in college”

Which, by the way, I have encountered several different copy machines and I agree – there really should be a college course on things like this.

In fact, there was an administrative assistant who worked in an office that I supported in my earlier days as a building engineer. Each time I needed to use their copy machine – the assistant was brutal to me because I failed to grasp the lessons to use the machine properly.
In fairness, there were buttons for everything. And me, I’m a simple person.
For example, I have a sheet of paper. I need to copy the information on this sheet of paper. I need this to look the same as the original page. And, I need ten copies.

I placed the page in, face up, because this is the way the paper is supposed to feed. I punched in the number of copies. Hit the green button and to me, this should be enough. Right?
Wrong . . . 
There was more to it than this. But then again, my experience and usage of this copy machine was seldom and unfamiliar. However, when something went wrong and when I reached out to the administrative person for help, I was hit with a barrage of frustrated insults. Or, I was hit with questions like, “They can put you in front of a machine to fix and you can figure that out but God forbid they ask you to make copies.”

One time, I responded by explaining, “Hey, I’m not here to be insulted. I’m here because I need copies.”
Suddenly, I was addressed by the comment that I don’t know how to take a joke – to which I replied, “No, I like jokes.”
When they’re funny.
I was accused of being sensitive. And maybe I am. Maybe insults to my intelligence are a sensitive subject. Or, perhaps I’ve had my share of bad teachers in my life. However, the best teachers I’ve ever had are the teachers who removed emotion from their lesson plans. Instead, their instructions and directions were evenly based and consistent. No belittling. No abusiveness. Just support.

We lose patience with people. We certainly lose patience with ourselves because put simply – we want results and the lack thereof can lead us to be intolerant.
Patience is more than waiting in line or waiting for a desired result. Patience (and tolerance) is the ability to hold the course and not give up on the action it takes to achieve our goals. 

I laugh about the afternoons when I was there to see my Old Man yelling at a machine that wouldn’t work. I laugh about the times when I’ve seen people shout at computer screens.
However, I shake my head when I think about the times when children look to assemble a toy or a model – and in their efforts to be successful, they allow frustration to distract their focus. And sometimes, they quit.
I shake my head when I think of old teachers of mine. I shake my head when I think about old bosses of mine who shouted and said, “I don’t have time to hold your hand anymore. Get it or get out!”
I shake my head at myself because there are times when I have done the same thing to others – this is somewhat like a torch being passed from the bullied who becomes the new bully. And I don’t want that to be me. (Do you want that to be you?)

They say inclusion requires tolerance and understanding. They say patience requires a sense of competent inclusion and understanding. That to be patient means we accept the challenges we face and rather than spit and curse – we remain calm, consistent and persistent, and without judgment or emotion. 

This is truly a talent. And talents can be either natural or trained.
So, therefore, in the case of patience or correction over criticism, It is best that we train ourselves well. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves frustrated all the time. Otherwise, we’ll be pissed off about subjects like a new hire who got a job that we thought was ours – or, we can be pissed at the machines we use or the computers we have and the life we live. 

I read that patience is essential to our daily life and might very well be the key component to a happy life. 
Our exercise of self-control is essential for our mental and emotional fitness. This allows us to handle difficult items in our life. This allows us to remove our emotional response and connections and our patience allows us the ability to remove control and judgment on all paths. 

This means we no longer have to personalize whether someone “Gets it” or not. It’s not an insult if someone doesn’t understand.  And by the way, everyone knows this. Intellectually, everyone understands this. Emotionally, however, that’s where the challenges come from.

Once we remove ego, the world is an easier place to live in.

Ego – The “I” or “Self” or “Self-importance”
Ease this out and learn patience.
Or, if the reason you lack the spark is because you’ve found yourself drowned in your own emotional quicksand – don’t worry. Fortunately, there are people who are patient enough to help lend you their spark so you can light your fire again.

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