“Condemn none. If you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers and let them go their own way.” – Swami Vivekananda


Many of our reflections home in on the idea of doing good for others, as well as looking at the benefits of offering that “helping hand” to those in need. This one looks at what to do when you can’t – but also, there’s another way to consider the Swami’s words – what to do when you don’t want to……what’s that about then?

Well, let’s start with when you are unable to help; perhaps the situation is such that the need you see is one that you are unable to fulfil, even if you might wish to. 

In that case, the act of folding your hands and blessing that person (or any other gesture of goodwill, such as a compassionate thought or an expression of empathy for their situation) might be considered a gift in and of itself. Remember – all our positive actions are preceded by positive thoughts, vibes or intentions, regardless of the absence of any material offering.

How about a situation where you feel you don’t want to “stretch out a helping hand”? Maybe that person is someone who has upset, hurt, betrayed or otherwise, in your view, ‘wronged’ you and you feel disinclined to help them out of the hole they’re in? 

You can see what their need might be, yet you are unwilling to become embroiled in their wider story or ‘drama’. There’s the additional thought that doing so means you deny them the power of the learning opportunity in front of them in regard to their connection to you……

In that case, recognise that you are on separate journeys through life and the options to change direction can be limited. It’s important to know where your own limits are and that the choice of when to test them and when to hold back for your own sake is yours. Perhaps meeting your own needs, respecting your own boundaries and honouring your own values and maintaining your sense of integrity is the kindest path for both of you?

The point here is that yes, of course, you have the right and, at times, the responsibility, to maintain sovereignty of your own emotions and feelings – the invitation here though is, in the more extreme situations, to stop short of condemnation of the other. Leave them be, in peace, and with good wishes that their situation might improve. Oh, and keep the door open!

With whom in your life right now are you tempted to be harsh, whereas holding back from judgement and condemnation would be the more positive decision – for you both?

Love and light,

Jim Sharman



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