Helping Hands



Dear Dharma,

Me and my family are living proof that there is hope for humanity yet. Last month there was a huge fire in our home and the damage has made it impossible for us to move back in yet. Most everything we own needs to be thrown away or professionally cleaned. We still don’t know exactly what started the fire but it looks like it may have something to do with old wiring.

This has been so very stressful, but many of our friends and even neighbours we’ve never met have poured out so much generosity in attempts to make it easier for us.

Easier in a logistical way, but I’m having a really hard time feeling okay with accepting this generosity.

The saying, “Those that have the least give the most” is so true! Some of my neighbours that have been so kind to us really don’t have extra to spare and I’ve come close to flat out refusing their offers. But I can’t. I can’t refuse the help because we really do need it.

Dharma, how do I trick myself into feeling better for accepting these great generosities and kindnesses? I feel so very guilty.


Smoked Out

Dear Smoked,

First off, I’m very sorry for what you are going through.  Thankfully, it sounds like everyone is safe, so a million sighs of relief for that.

There are many silver linings to this life changing event, and I think if we can get you focused on those, you’ll be able to handle this all a little better.

First and foremost, as you say in your opening sentence, you’ve learned that humanity is alive and well.  So often it feels like everyone is just out for themselves, and we’re pumped full of bad news every single day about how crappy people are. You’ve now a learned a lesson that should stick with you for life… most people are mostly good.  I honestly believe that’s true, and it feels way better living life believing that than compared to the flip side.


Your situation – as terrible as it is – has given people the opportunity to step up and do something they genuinely want to do, which is to help out.  To reject someone’s sincere offer would do not one iota of good – not for you and not for them.  Accept their generousity with grace and humility and know they are walking away from this feeling proud of what they have been able to contribute in whatever way they could.

And if you are looking for ways to assuage any guilt you are feeling, how about this – make an active pledge to yourself that you will pay this all forward.  As in, spend your life being a person who looks for opportunities to be helpful and kind to others in need whenever possible.  Do it for no other reason other than you can, and perhaps do it in honour of those who helped you at your time of need.

And hey, it wouldn’t be Dharma to miss the opportunity to make this suggestion… throw a party.  Oh, I know, right now a party is the last thing on your mind… but you won’t feel this way forever.  Whenever you are back on your feet and are able to do so, host a thank you party for those who helped you out.  It will give you the opportunity to properly acknowledge everyone, and you’ll be taking another step towards strengthening the community around you.

No Tricking Needed

Bottom line is that you don’t need to trick yourself into feeling better for accepting people’s generousity – just know you will be doing everything possible to show gratitude and making yourself an even better person out of all of this.  Keep your head up and know that you’ll get through this, and Dharma looks forward to the invite!  🙂



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