The Perils of Indifference
Zat Rana

In some respects, I think indecision may be misleading as frequently people do not want to get involved and casting it as indecision is really a way to hide their decision not to get involved.

How history is portrayed is an excellent example of how we can choose to retell what happened in ways that reduce our feelings of guilt. It can be much easier to say we were indecisive about taking action and this had grave consequences rather than admit we didn’t take action because we didn’t want to.

Being more open about our fears and what we want to do requires a desire to expand our comfort zone. I think it’s unproductive to dismiss our thoughts about being a good person as if we truly believe this to be the case, it can become a basis for comparison with what we end up doing.

Our goal can be to narrow the gap between who we believe we are and how we express it through action. If we’re able to take on the smaller challenges of life which cause us pain and discomfort, we’ll develop a greater ability to expand our comfort zone and take on increasingly more difficult challenges.

Although each individual may be starting from a different place with respect to their comfort zone, the degree to which we can empathize with their challenges can be a foundation for mutual support.

There are many truly horrible things that happen in the world. They can easily overwhelm us if we spend too much time contemplating them. It’s more effective to focus on expanding our capacities and supporting others in their attempts to do so.

As social creatures, our need to be validated and to validate others is a very powerful influence. It’s tempting to focus on other people’s faults. We can direct our focus on criticizing others for failing to act. Taking risks leaves us vulnerable. If we know others support us, the barriers to achievement are lower. When we lash out at people we don’t think are doing the right thing, their self preservation instinct kicks in against our attack. They’ll be less likely to try again or listen to us.

There are worse things than indecision as we can be beaten down to the point where we abandon who we are in order to avoid another beating. We don’t need to lavish false praise on people, but acknowledgement and encouragement of their efforts to do the right thing even when they didn’t achieve their goal on a particular attempt is much better than shaming someone for failure. If the shaming is significant enough, the damage to their self confidence and trust can be sufficient for them to do a 180 degree turn and decide they are against what they were previously for.

It’s my belief more people will contribute positive change if they’re allowed to heal. Please remember the Hippocratic Oath of, “first do no harm.” We must know ourselves and our motivations as well as getting to know the people we want to help in order to actually help. Do they want our help? What sort of help do they want? Knowing the differences between help, pity, and wanting people to conform to our expectations without respecting theirs are crucial if we’re to avoid doing more harm than good.

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