Monday, July 22, 2013

Do You Sacrifice Yourself to Help Others? The Third of 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

Taking Care of Yourself First is Not Selfishness: 
It is Absolutely Crucial to Your Ability to Help Others

By Marc Hardy, PhD

I consider myself a Unitarian Universalist (as did Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Jefferson, so I am in good company). So I offer the example of the life of Jesus not to evangelize but as an allegory to make a point. Jesus shared his fire with many people, healing the sick and poor, preaching his spiritual truths and teaching wisdom to those who wanted to listen. The results of his efforts are well documented, but he did not do all of these things alone and he took care of himself. His disciples were always near him to assist his efforts, his needs were taken care of by others, and sitting at a meal with friends was not unusual. He took his spiritual health very seriously and prayed for days. He understood that in order to heal others and help them start anew, it was important that he honored himself as well. 

Recently, someone commented on one of my Facebook posts that my view is suspect because sometimes the people who need help the most are often the ones who are least ready to receive it and may be resistant to our help. However, the main point was missed: I very clearly stated that sacrificing yourself for others who do not respond to repeated acts of help is self destructive and serves no one. I never stated that we should withhold our encouragement from others simply because they do not immediately respond to our efforts. In the real world, however, as age brings us wisdom, we soon face the truth that there are those who continually enjoy playing the victim role and enjoy the attention they garner from others as a result. Yet, they make little attempt to help themselves and are chronically negative, pulling themselves and everyone else down into their quagmire, which extinguishes our light and does nothing to ignite their potential. Following the allegory of Jesus once again, even he advised us not to cast our pearls before swine, meaning not to extend our help and encouragement to others who are not ready for our message or cannot appreciate it. So let’s take a lesson from one of the greatest healers the world has ever known and take care of ourselves so we can better help others. 

Next time: Sharing Your Fire to Foster Independence Instead of Dependence

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Do You Sacrifice Yourself to Help Others? The Second of 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

Share Your Fire Only with Those Who Want to be Ignited

By Marc Hardy, PhD

A wise friend once told me, “Marc, you can do anything you want in this world. But you can’t do everything you want.” We need to adapt that concept to sharing our fire with others in order to be effective and keep our flame bright. The truth is that we can help and encourage anyone we want to in this world, but we can’t help everyone. We can only help those who truly desire help and are thirsting for it. We need to discriminate so that we can identify those who are ready to accept the good that we have to give and will use the encouragement and tools we give them to create a better life. There are plenty of people who truly yearn for someone to believe in them and give them encouragement in their life so they can move to the next level, and they are the ones who are most likely to benefit from our efforts. Trying to help everyone, regardless of their commitment to help themselves, is not an effective way to spread the energy of our fire. 

Next week: Why taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for others.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Do You Sacrifice Yourself to Help Others? The First of 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

By Marc Hardy, Ph.D.

First let me reiterate upfront that I believe in paying forward to others the good that we have been given. In fact, I think helping others is what gives meaning to our lives. But I don’t believe it should be taken to the point of destroying our lives. Sacrificing our own emotional, mental, spiritual, physical and financial health is counter-productive to helping others and does not make the world a better place. The profound truth that we need to embrace is that, if we deplete ourselves, we cannot give to others what we no longer have. We need to constantly remind ourselves of this, because we givers are often not good at giving to ourselves. If we want to sustain a life of sharing our fire with others and leaving our mark on the world, we need to heed the following advice: 

Don’t let your ego drive you to an early death.

If you are reading this, you are probably a person I consider a “philanthropic pyromaniac” – you share your fire with anyone in need, often to the detriment of your own well-being. A big part of this is wanting to do good, but another part, one that is more ego-driven than it is altruistic, is that we want to be loved, revered and respected for our efforts. We want people to appreciate what we have done and acknowledge it once in a while. It’s not that we want the spotlight, it’s just that we don’t want to be taken for granted. Yet we often give to those who least appreciate or acknowledge our help, which causes us to give even more to them in the hopes it might be enough to garner a “thank you.” Eventually, we become exhausted from our efforts, feel that we have failed in some way to help them. We burn out and become bitter against them and most of mankind. Worst of all, the experience negatively affects all aspects of our health. So learn to spot the “life suckers” and avoid them like the plague.

Next Time: The Second of Five Reasons: Why you should Share your fire only with those who want to be ignited.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Myth of Being "Self-Made"

As I was flying to New York, I thought of Donald Trump and his wealth and arrogance. Many may wonder at his ability to become so successful, but if you read his first book, "The Art of the Deal," he shares that his first big realestate deal was financed by a $6 million loan. But not from a bank: it was from his father who was a contractor who made his fortune in part from building government housing. In essence, "The Donald" got his start thanks to our taxpayer dollars.

So when he brags about his successes, I grin and think that if my father had lent me $6 million to start a business, I am pretty sure I could have leveraged that into a healthy income as well. Most of us, however, do not have the benefit of wealthy parents who can share their economic fire with us and ignite our commercial potential.

No matter who we are, none of us, including The Donald, can make the the claim that we are self-made. For at least the first 18 years of our lives, other people and institutions influenced our choices and direction. Who we have become has been significantly shaped by others who have shared their fire with us in a positive way. We paid nothing for the generosity and nurturing that these people and places gifted us. The hospitals in which we were born, the medical staff who brought us safely into the world, our parents who fed and clothed us, the religious institutions that formed our spiritual beliefs, the schools that stimulated our intellect. All of these acts paid for by someone else for our benefit. Why did others give us these gifts? Because these gifts were given to them and they are simply passing them on.

No one succeeds without the help of others. We all have a debt of gratitude which we will never be able to repay to those who have helped make us who we are. Therefore, it is imperative that we share our fire with others and re-gift the good we have given. Only then will our debt of gratitude begin to be paid, and we will fully and truly experience the profound meaning of helping others create a better life and a more civil society.

Marc Hardy, PhD, New York City, June 11, 2013
Location:New York

Sunday, June 9, 2013

If you want to know what is really deep inside the mind of actor John Malkovich, this story will give you a glimpse. Saving another person's life is a true act of "Sharing Fire" with another - the fire of life.

John Malkovich Helps Save Life of Man Bleeding Outside Toronto Theater

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How Paqui Kelly, the Other Half of “Fighting Irish” Football Coach Brian Kelly, Marked up a Big Win against Breast Cancer

10 years ago, Paqui Kelly was a 9th grade teacher and wife of Notre Dame Football Coach Brian Kelly, (then the coach of the Central Michigan University football team). Although she did not have a history of breast cancer in her family and she was one of six sisters, her doctor talked her into having a mammogram at the age of 37 as part of a physical exam – the first one in her life. That test saved her life and shaped much of the work of the Kelly Cares Foundation. This is her compelling story of how life sent her an unexpected and eye opening challenge. Listen here to Dr. Marc Hardy interview Paqui as she opens her heart and talks about how modern medicine, love, family, faith and community helped her survive and give back.