Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thank U!

Thank very much to all of you for the strong support and encouragement during 2009. I will resume my postings next Wednesday 6th of January 2010. I’m on my way to the bush to celebrate the New Year’s festivities with a full moon and the hippos of the Zambezi River.

Wish you all a wonderful and prosperous 2010!



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Help and its implications

More often than not when helping someone we do set expectations and then end up feeling betrayed and disappointed as the end result did not work as anticipated by us. But in spite of the disillusionment we keep aiding with the hope that one day that person will turn into the one we have pictured. Unconsciously we take ownership of his/her situation with the conviction that we know better, leaving him/her with very little room to take responsibility and make his/her own choices. Therefore we end up engaging in a codependent relationship, a mixture of hate and love, gratitude and ungratefulness, expectations and disappointments, breakups and starting over, forgiveness and resentment. Both parties are unhappy: the one asking for help feels suffocated by the conditional aid while the one helping feels used and unappreciated.
As time passes by the one being helped starts to demand for the aid, considering it his/her right to be helped, given that we have been always there to rescue him/her from the fire. But then, the sense of obligation and umbrage has already taken its toll on the helping hand, resulting on a strong unwillingness to keep supporting the unthankful one. It is then when people start to question the implications of helping others.

Helping does not necessary entails taking responsibility for others problems and solving them on their behalf, as we are then taking away their chance to experience and to grow from the situation they are facing. Helping is about being there to assist when needed to, but with no conditions and or expectations. It is not about wanting to control the person we are assisting by gaining power over him/her and therefore crossing the line by starting to organize his/her life as per our will. Doing so does takes away his/her freedom to be “Who she/he wants to be” imposing on her/his the burden of becoming “who we want him/her to be”. The end result: a very unhealthy relationship where dissatisfaction is what prevails in all the parties involved.

When the time to stop “lending a hand” arrives we are usually overwhelmed by a feeling of guilt and remorse, since this goes against what is believed to be the right thing to do. The sense of obligation is such that it takes a huge effort to say NO so as to let the other person take responsibility of her/his doings. Despite these contradictory feelings, we do need to face the reality and accept the fact that sometimes the best way to help is by not helping.
Helping someone by not helping does not imply ignoring the other person’s problem and letting him/her break into pieces while we go on with our own business. But sometimes we do need to accept that the best help we can offer to a specific person or situation is by letting things follow their course of action. We do need to admit that sometimes the person asking for help does need to hit the ground so as to be able to stand on their own, as this is what she/he really needs to experienced so as to be able to take control of his/her life.

We shall keep helping each other as much as we can, but we need to do so while remembering that they are not us and we are not them. We also need to keep in mind that people do need to take responsibilities for their actions, and that there are not victims or victimizers. Not helping as expected does not make as victimizers, and not getting what we want does not make us victims.

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author
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This week's Theme Thursday is "help" - I'm contributing with this old post (old but still very much current ;) )

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sam’s New Year Master Plan


The end of the year is approaching and the time to write down his New Year’s resolution list has come. Ceremonially Sam gets his special paper, best pen and off he goes to sit on his desk to write it down. With precise detail and determination he effectively enumerates all the I WILLs and I WILL NOTs that will establish without possible doubts: Who he wants to be in New Year!

Sam’s New Year’s Master Plan – The New Me!
  • I will live each moment as if it is the very last
  • I will stop disliking myself, honoring who I am, despite my size and shape and I will eat healthy, exercise often, listening to my soul and body needs.
  • I will look for a more satisfactory work, as money is not everything in life
  • I will stop smoking and drinking
  • I will leave all unhealthy relationships
  • I will smile more, complain less and communicate more often with family and friends
  • I will watch less TV so I can socialize with those around me
  • I will only concentrate on the positive and embrace each challenge with determination
  • I will work less hours and spend more time with my family
  • I will love more, be more open and trust more
  • I will save some money to travel around
  • ……….
Sam finishes the list and with pride hangs it on the fridge so as to keep a constant reminder of the person he wants to become as soon as he kicks goodbye this year.


On the 31st December, with emotion and determination Sam raises his glass free of fears while kissing goodbye the old year and the old Sam. He then welcomes with excitement his new life!


Sam is awakened by the alarm clock, he is late for work again (after overstaying last night watching TV), in a hurry he dresses and runs to the fridge to get his usual breakfast (one diet coke and a chocolate bar). While opening the fridge’s door his New Year’s Master Plan falls, capturing his attention, Sam bends with effort (his big tummy is in the way) and collects it with extreme difficulty (in one hand he has the coke and the chocolate, and in the other one he is holding a cigarette). He then closes the fridge’s door using one of his feet while quickly checking the master plan; afterward with a sarcastic and bitter laugh he crumpled the list and throws it away.
He is laughing at himself for being so naïve and dreaming about changing anything of Who he is! There are things in life that can’t be changed and he is one of those lost cases… he does not have the power to transform Who he is. He has written the same dammed list for over ten years and so far he’s still in “square one”.
Writing down the plan is easy but making it a reality is where the challenge really lied. A very sad expression takes over his face while once again he recognizes the fact that if there are no changes in his life, it is because deep inside he is terrified of the unknown, of not knowing what to expect, or the probability of failing and realizing that after all, he is “good for nothing”. Hence, he rather stays where he is and follows the very wise advice of his grandma: “The devil you know is better that the angel you don’t know”.
So off he goes rushing towards the door, his routinely job and his dull life….

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The ART of Communication (II)

The other day while surfing the net I read: The state of the world is a reflection of our collective conversation. To change the world lets improve the quality of our conversation”. A very simple and brilliant expression that describes the cause of the several conflicts humanity is facing today.

Ineffective communication is directly related to the absence of tolerance and an open-minded approach, where there is a tendency to disregard anything that is not in agreement with specifics beliefs or values. People react to different opinions, cultures, customs, religions and ideas with antagonism in a desperate attempt to shut down anything dissimilar to what they believe to be right. The human need to establish what is right or wrong is where the key of the matter truly lies as it settles nations and people apart.

But, what determines what is right and wrong? Which principles should be used to establish that conclusion: yours or mine? If you are right then I’m wrong? If it’s not black then it’s white?

There is right and wrong? It has to be that way or can we meet half way?

True communication realizes when both parties meet half way, listening and respecting what both have to express. As a French philosopher once said: “I totally disagree with everything you said but I will defend with my life your right to say it!”

When we meet half way we don’t pinpoint or judge as we are embracing things for what they are instead of trying to change them to meet our line of thoughts. If societies, communities, religions, political parties, etc stop having monologues and start having “conversations” we will definitely see a different state of the world. But then again, as Gandhi said: “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world”, so there we are… if you want the world to change, begin by changing your communication approach: stop having monologues and be ready to meet half way!

© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author

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