“You can’t help the poor by being one of them”

Posted on 22nd November 2014

“You can’t help the poor by being one of them!”

This quote, like many, is attributed to Abraham Lincoln. I always wonder how Presidents and Prime Ministers cope. With so many decisions and worldly concerns how do they find the mental space to deal with personal day to day things like the rest of us. It seems they do find a way to cope and nobody could question Lincoln’s ability to deal well with both aspects of his life.

The gist of Lincoln’s wisdom here is that first and foremost you have to be strong yourself to help others, particularly those weaker. There is no value in flogging yourself into the ground in a bid to help everyone. It is from a position of personal strength and clarity that one can help others. In similar ways good support for your children comes from places of emotional security and self-appreciation that you are doing your best job. Not many parents do well who themselves lack confidence and emotional security. The most supportive and useful parents appear to be the ones who are comfortable within. They live fulfilled lives and do not seek extra from their child’s journey. They are of course involved with the child and can spend many hours with them but they do not SEEK to steal too much emotionally from the child. They are given it freely by the child as they develop into the child’s “rock” of support.

When children are surrounded by confident and self-assured people they are socialised to relax. They know they are accepted for themselves, they know that calm people are not worth antagonising and they don’t SEEK drama from where there is calm. By being a role model of good work ethic, consistent mood, optimism and gratification you will become a beaming lighthouse for children.  They will feel secure and supported rather than smothered and panicked.

 “When we feel safe, we humans are explorers, approaching new discoveries with delight. If people are anxious, uncomfortable, or fearful, they do not learn. That is, they do not build new brain connections or create new ideas. Knowing how to create the conditions for learning is a key skill for coaches/parents.” Linda Rock, NeuroScientist.

Although a simple concept this is by no means easy. We all have our own fears and stresses yet we also have many, many qualities. Focus on these qualities you have because they will settle you. You don’t really lack anything you need. The feeling of “lack” is a destroyer of many things. It dents your confidence and brings paranoia. It stiffens your creativity and makes you vulnerable. It takes away faith to just be you. So go forward, keep trying your best to be strong in yourself. Keep a zest for your own dreams and light the way through example not just information and martyrdom.

Self-Do Practices


Have a strong and supportive saying that you can say out loud or quietly

A good one may be

“No matter how hard this situation gets I always have the inner strength to get through it”

“I always have the option to enjoy this moment and remind myself I am a good person and loving parent.”


Write yourself a letter as if written by a person who always believes in you and loves you for who you are. Sentences could start with the following:

– I like you because

– You are making progress in

– You are my best of friends because….

– You inspire me because…

– I would miss you because


  • What advice would the 80 year old you tell you if they could send you a message from the future?
  • What would the 8 year old you remind you of, if they could visit you for a few minutes?

Next article: being grateful and noticing the good stuff you and your children have…

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