Everything in life is a delicate balance for those of us treading paths of self-knowing, and of reaching beyond self. But sometimes the best response is to say No.
When I first became a massage teacher, every student west of Atlantis wanted to trade massages with me. Yes, that would have helped them. I gave great feedback and they could have felt what a professional massage feels like.
It would also wear me out and chew up my time so I couldn’t work my own professions and help others.
I got so I wouldn’t even tell people what I did because complete strangers in grocery queues would want me to work the knots out of their shoulders as we stood there.
So I set a clear policy not to trade and stuck with it.
Nowadays, when I tell people I’m a writer, it turns out that everybody and his dead uncle has thought about being a writer, wants me to teach them how to do it, edit their first efforts, get them published …
So again, I make a policy drawing the line.
When lonely people find out I can listen, care, and empathize, they get in my face, trying to stop me from whatever I might be trying to focus on, so I can listen to them tell me every ache they ever had, any word their doctors ever uttered.
But the books and thoughts and minor essays I write can be helpful and important, too, and they are means of helping more than one person at a time.
Again, we will always be tested. And for those of caring natures, these tests may hit literally where we, and another might hurt.
But sometimes it might just be healthier to say no.