Let’s be perfectly honest: life can get a little overwhelming. More than just a little, actually. Life never really stops, and oftentimes can feel like we’re wading through the mud, fighting and struggling to cut through the pressing murk as the pressures of life try to swallow us whole. And when it does, it’s all too easy to let things slip, to get out of control, to forget about the small things until they snowball into a much bigger issue down the line. While no one ever means for this to happen, it’s nonetheless a situation that everyone has experienced.
One unfortunate side-effect is how simple it becomes to begin dragging others into the mud with us when this happens. From our own internal perspective, it might feel like we’re simply reaching out for a helping hand, seeking for a branch or safety line to tow us out of the muck in our hour of need. The reality is not always so: what we see as a lifeline back to safety and stability can become a leash to the person helping us; a means of dragging them down into the mud after us even as we use them to haul ourselves out. We’re all guilty of it, just as we’ve all had someone else do it to us.
I’m reminded of the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” – the kid who pulled the same prank so many times that when real danger came along no one would stop to help him, believing it to be just another joke. It’s the same kind of situation here. There’s no shame in asking for help and reaching out when we really need it. But it’s when we fall into a pattern of almost willful helplessness that we become a risk not only to ourselves but to others. People become less likely, less willing, to offer aid the more they see us falling into our own self-trap. At a certain point, it’s no accident, but truly a choice.
We forget that, had we simply been a little more mindful from the start, we wouldn’t have trodden so deep into the mud to begin with so that we needed rescue. Sure, it happens from time to time. That’s only natural. But without proper mindfulness, we become the architects of our own downfall without even realizing it.