Why do we need to help others?


Helping others is a natural phenomenon.

Animals help each other. Tress help vines grow on them. Trees also help birds make nests in them. The non-human world co-exists by helping each other, in a systematic manner. As a design. It helps because it has to survive. It doesn’t mean they don’t kill each other. If helping is the universal law, so is the killing beach other for survival. But they do coexist.

Humans are always confused about their phenomenon of help. Parents help children grow. Teachers help them learn. Friends help each other. And this chain of help continues. Help comes in many forms – physical, emotional, financial, social, psychological etc. A lot of people, systems help us grow and become successful. Slowly, we climb the ladder of success and reach where we start feeling that we are self-reliant. We have a healthy and happy family, a car, house, bank balance and there isn’t much struggle in life. We have moved in the Maslow’s pyramid of hierarchy from basic needs to the need of Esteem. This is where all the problems lie. This is where the ego comes in.

“It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled?” – Maslow questioned.

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, propounded a five-stage pyramid of human needs. These are broadly divided into deficiency needs and growth needs. The first four levels are often referred to as deficiency needs and the top level is known as growth or being needs. Deficiency needs arise due to deprivation and are said to motivate people when they are unmet. When a deficit need has been ‘more or less’ satisfied it will go away, and our activities become habitually directed towards meeting the next set of needs that we have yet to satisfy. Maslow believed that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

Physiological needs

these are biological requirements for human survival, e.g. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep.

If these needs are not satisfied the human body cannot function optimally. These needs are the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.

Safety needs

protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.

Love and belongingness needs

after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behaviour. For example friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).

Upto this level humans help each other a lot. Because these are universal laws of survival. All the problems begin when the human aspects start playing a role. The ego stage.

Esteem needs

which Maslow classified into two categories: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence) and (ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).

Self-actualization needs

realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. A desire “to become everything one is capable of becoming”

At the esteem stage, we start believing that “it’s me who has achieved everything….” Or ‘I am a self-made man”.  We forget that nothing is self-made. Nobody is independent in this world of Mother Nature. We are all interlinked, inter-dependent and we co-exist. Ego is always alone, its never collective. So it starts believing in its singularity without realising that ego also can;’t survive in isolation. You can have the best of the ego and if left in complete solitude, the same ego will start killing you. Ego survives only in a vibrant world.

This is when people start feeling that they can do anything – on their own. Because that’s how it seems like. You are the boss. You have the money. People follow you. Slowly, we stop helping others grow. We feel ‘it has taken me so many efforts to reach here and if this place gets crowded than what is the point of all that struggle and hard work“.

In fact, we even start scheming to stop anyone reach where we are. Though we become secured but ego constantly makes us insecure.  Slowly, we start feeling lonely. You must have heard lots of successful people say that it’s always lonely at the top. Yes, it’s our insecurity, our ego, our greed, our ambition which stops us from helping others reach where we are, despite our potential to help them, we don’t help others and ultimately find ourselves alone.

You must have noticed in casinos that the person who is winning doesn’t want others to win. This is the scarcity consciousness, which we develop after many years of struggling with scarcity. We feel that the cake is too small to feed everyone. We always try to take the biggest pie without understanding that the the cake of Mother Nature is infinite. Once we realize it’s immense capacity to feed everyone, we move to abundance consciousness. This is where we want everyone to win. That winning is never celebrated in isolation. That celebration is never lonely. For, poor we can, lonely we can’t.

Till the time we are at the Esteem level, the help is organic, organised and effortless. Only at the esteem level, we have to decide to offer help from our own understandings and realisations. I have learnt it hard way that there is no other way to be happy than being surrounded by happy people. By being surrounded with people you can depend on fro all kinds of help. Help is mutual. Help helps us co-grow. Help helps us move to the next and the most magical level of self-actualising. Without help, there is now life.

Believe in helping. Believe in yourself. Believe in nature. Be #IAmBuddha

Note: you can also contribute to this column by sending your ideas, stories, fables, anecdotes. I’ll use them with due credits. 

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