My young friend was in a little bit of trouble. She urgently needed to buy a box of contact lenses. She was running on her last ones. The power of her lenses is quite high. Tomorrow, she would be next to blind, and she had recently lost her backup glasses. It was a kind of a crisis. Of course, she was putting up a brave face and claimed that it will give her an opportunity to empathise with the blind. Not funny.
I decided to help her. I telephoned a friend who runs a distribution business of optical products. I offered to send someone to his office and have the lenses collected and delivered to my young friend's place. I just wanted to help her and make her life easier. The problem was easy for me to solve, just a phone call away. One her own it would have cost her half a day and some headache. So I thought let me help.
Before I knew it, I had already spend more than 45 minutes coordinating the whole exercise. She seemed confused. She kept changing what she wanted. I was just a little bit irritated. Then, at one point, I looked at her and blurted out at her ‘why are you being so confused?’
Agreed, she could have been more clear about her requirements. It might have saved some time. But she is young. She must have been a bit embarrassed at her own situation. She was just a little frazzled. It was me who offered to help. But I insisted on pointing out her ‘lack of clarity’. At that moment, I saw her face fall. I could see that right then, she must have regretted asking for and taking my help.
As I thought about it later, I realised my foolishness. I had helped her. I wanted to. But I ended up doing it in a way that made her think less of herself. I made her feel dumb. Chances are, that she will hesitate to ask me for help again. She will recoil at my sight, even if I can help her.
We all need respect more than any other feeling or emotion. Especially from people we look up to, respect is a basic need we have. We need them to look at us in a way that makes us respect ourselves more. We need respect more that we need love, help, support and certainly more than we need any guidance or instruction! I want to help you, but let me do it in a way that makes you feel better about yourself. Just because I helped you, I don’t get the right to steal away your dignity!