It is our nature to help others. It is the nature of all of life to foster and further life. There are those of us who are largely unaware of our bent on helping as it is hidden under ancestral and cultural burdens, or beneath our personal injuries and the impoverished maps we acquired – those we use for navigating our lives. In others of us, the desire to help is front and center. In most circumstances, it is correct and right for us to help others when we feel moved.
However, there are people for whom, and specific circumstances for which we are not to involve ourselves in “helping.” We are not to interfere as it is neither our place, nor do we have the right to help. In these situations our “helping” is meddlesome and problematic in the other’s life. It too is a problem for us.
There are times and circumstances when we believe that our “helping” actions are useful to another, when in fact, our actions serve only ourselves. Additionally, many of our “helping” actions are unhelpful and sometimes harmful; yet, we do not know this and continue acting naively, ignorantly.
The subject of this post is about an anger arising in those of us who have accepted and taken the help given to us. It may or may not have been right and proper for those who gave to us to do so, yet, we took what was given.
Hellinger’s fifth type of anger is one in which anger is substituted for your indebtedness to another – the compensation you owe them. Someone gave to you a lot. So much, that you cannot, or believe you cannot repay the debt. You become angry as a defense against your indebtedness, and the obligation you have to compensate them.
To yourself, you owe your consent to your indebtedness; you owe your accountability and responsibility for the debt; you need to give to the other, and do what it takes to reconcile and balance what you owe. In this, you owe your acknowledgement, appreciation and gratitude to the one who gave to you. In some cases you owe more.
In our failing to do these things, anger is unwittingly substituted. This is a particularly paralyzing form of anger and it leaves you feeling empty. This anger is expressed in three principal ways: blame, depression and long lasting sadness.
If you are continually blaming someone, feeling depressed, or carrying a long lasting sadness, consider these feelings as prompts to rouse you to action. These feelings are inviting you to sort out whether you owe a debt, and to whom. These feelings may have been around a long time becoming part of your landscape – the one you no longer see. Yet, it is time to act.
Chronic long lasting sadness arises too if you owe gratitude and acknowledgement to someone who is no longer in your life. The separation can be due to a dissolution of a relationship or marriage, a geographical move, or, in particular, if the other has died. Anger-driven sadness arises too when you have yet to acknowledge your guilt regarding the one who left or died.
Parents can give their children too much. For example: gifting them their attendance at the best colleges, graduate or professional schools, and assisting them in establishing and positioning themselves professionally. When these adult-children are blameful, depressed or saddened, it is likely that they unwittingly carry a sense of their inability to compensate those who have given to them.
Spouses who postpone their educations, careers, or having children while they themselves work at jobs enabling their partners to prepare and credential themselves for good careers, may receive anger rather than gratitude. The gift given them is huge. The receiving spouse may feel unable to reconcile the generosity and give adequately to the giving spouse. Spouses who have taken the most and given the least, may feel the need to leave their relationships as they feel incapable of repaying their debt.
What of those women who marry men and learn their mate does not want children, yet, they themselves do? Yet, they remain in the marriage forgoing children. The gift they give their husbands is incalculable. So too, men may want children and women not. The point: This giving is huge and so too is the debt owed. Compensating the spouse for remaining in the marriage without children must occur to give rise to the possibility of the having the relationship thrive. What of mentors, friends, relatives, or those in our places of work who are extraordinarily generous with us? We owe them.
In our absences of giving what we owe, our anger compromises our relationship with the other. Of equal importance, it distances us from being in the flow of our own life’s moments; the path of our own creative expression. Feelings and expressions of problematic anger impede our relationship with power, our ability to connect with each “moment” in our lives, and too, from consciously entering into the only relationship that exists, that of “I” and “Thou” – self and the Mystery.
• How do you decide whether your helping impulse is fitting? • With whom, and in what circumstances, has your help been an interference? A meddling? • Who have you wanted to help, yet, deep down knew the “helping” was about you and not the other? • Who do you owe acknowledgement and gratitude as compensation for their generosity? • Do you owe them more? • Who owes you? • Have you stopped giving to those who already owe you? Those who are angry with you? Or, are you burying them more deeply in debt? • Regarding those who have failed to acknowledge and give you gratitude for your generosity, what do you need to change within yourself to hold and regard them with compassion? • What do you need change within yourself to only give when appropriate? • What giving is each human being entitled to receive? • What giving is right for each being to give others and life?