Recently I had a conversation with more than one good friend of mine about whether or not support or challenge is required in a given situation. What a fascinating concept and it begs the question, which do I want and when, as well as, which and when is right for me to offer to others.
The challenge in life is often discovering what is true for us. So often it is easy to know what we do not want and yet the answer always lies in what we do want, although sometimes and for some people there is confusion around wanting versus needing. I have given considerable thought and time to the difference between the two so I am relatively confident I do not confuse them more than 3 or 4 times a month…smile.
So let me start with my central thought. At no time does anyone need, or for that matter probably want, our judgement. It is not helpful, not kind, not loving, not supportive…it is judgement. Here is the rub. For many, due to religious thought and societal norms, it is in fact the default setting. The word “should” has an undeserved prominence in our society. My advice to myself (and those others who hear it and choose it as their own) is “do not should on myself or others and the result will be a happier life”. The reason this concept is integral to the support/challenge question is that we may want to challenge but in fact what is needed is support and it is a misplaced sense of righteousness that propels us into the belief we need to “challenge” others.
When I want to challenge it is often a case of a deeper hidden issue that I need to deal with and it is more about me and less about the other. Remember my central tenet; everything I think say and do is a reflection of myself and never another, and so the clue always lies within and that is always the first place I try to look. The answer is that 95% to 99% of the time we need support. We are all the same (provided we do not have chemical imbalances causing psychological impairments like psychotic disorders) and so if you think about the times when you have flourished in your life I am quite certain you will see it is when you were supported and thereby enabled to challenge yourself. In reality the only challenges that are successful are the ones we set for and achieve ourselves. This is why athletes often say winning is a state of mind. It is their state of mind. No let me correct myself. In all cases, regarding all issues in our lives, it is our state of mind which sets the course. The balance of the journey is directed by our choices.
And so I offer this notion to the greater good of my fellow travellers on the small blue planet, third rock from the relatively unremarkable fusion explosion we call our Sun. I need support and I remember that the key to others happiness lies in my ability to support them as well. The answer to the question challenge versus support is most likely support. I return to my favourite question for guidance in my own life. It is the question I most often ask and it provides me with a rich experience and much joy. What does love look like now? The answer to this question never starts with or includes the word should. It sometimes includes the word could and the difference is that could is shared when asked and should is often simply blurted out into reality regardless of the other. Occasionally the word “should” is appropriate and it exists in our language for a reason so I am not suggesting it be eliminated altogether. For example human rights should be observed in all cases for all people in a civilized society. Which human rights, how are they observed, why, by whom and when requires a great deal of discussion perhaps, but the central thought is correct.
I am so glad to have the opportunity to re-discover my values today and hope that those of you who choose to read it will either support or challenge me as you see fit. Part of the reason I put my thoughts online is to receive the thoughts of others and I welcome challenges to my thoughts and opinions because sometimes the easiest way for me to learn is to rethink my philosophy because of the divergent viewpoints presented. Yes, I need support 99% of the time but when I ask for challenge it is because I want it and am ready for it. So go ahead. Make my day. Challenge me to live the life I love to live.