How To Be A Force Of Good In The World

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: Carlos Farina, “Cappriccio Stravagante: Adagio”

How To Be a Force for Good in The World

In the special space that exists between the end of one year and the start of another, we have time to pause. To rest. To reflect. It's the time of year when we think about who we were and what we learned in the previous year, and set our sights on who we want to be and what we want to accomplish in the next. We're releasing our old selves, and getting ready to embrace fresh, new incarnations.

And for many of us, that means thinking about not only how we can improve our own lives, but the lives of others. 

Being a force for good in the world is a lofty goal. It’s a righteous goal. It’s a challenging goal. If it’s a goal you’ve set for your own life, I have no doubt that it sometimes leaves you feeling discouraged, especially in times like these. 

You may ask yourself, how much can I realistically do for others, when I have my own problems to solve, my own bills to pay, my own family to care for? How can I stay connected with my power to help, when the need is so great and my capacity is so limited? 

These are all questions I’ve asked myself over the course of my career as a counselor and coach. In this episode of the podcast, I discuss how my thinking about what it means to be a force for good in the world has shifted over the years. 

Am I Doing the Right Thing?

No one comes to the field of counseling without a bone-deep desire to help others, and no one gets through the training without having that idealism tested. 

I spent my psychologist internship at a community mental health center, where the clients I saw every day had profound challenges. I worked with children who had experienced horrific abuse at the hands of their parents, clients whose addictions were slowly killing them before my eyes, people who could hardly function well enough to take their medication and make it to my office once a week, let alone live fulfilling, joyful lives

I saw so much suffering and could do so little to help. I couldn’t stop asking myself, “Am I doing the right thing?”

Giving Up Control

Tragedy forced me to give up the mindset that I could be the force that healed someone’s heart, or helped them make real and lasting change in their life. 

When a client dear to me died, I had to acknowledge the truth: that everything was beyond my control. I could do my best, but I couldn’t force anyone to heal, or undo decades of trauma, or erase a lifetime of poverty or neglect or addiction. 

I decided that what happened was not up to me. It was up to a power much, much greater than me. 

The Right Thing to Do

“I am not in control” became my mantra through the rest of my internship. When someone sat in my office and told me the heartbreaking details of their life, I asked for a loving force much bigger and wiser than me to take control and help them

I would use everything I learned in school and I would give them my full, unconditional, positive regard, but I couldn’t force any of it to land. I couldn’t make anyone get back on track. I wasn’t in control of their healing. 

I was reminding myself every day how little control I had when I met Bob, a cognitively disabled man in his fifties who looked like he was in his seventies because of decades of drugs and alcohol addiction coupled with decades of hard labor.

The great heartbreak of Bob’s life was a daughter he had had as a younger man, when his addictions were at their worst. He hadn’t been around for his daughter’s childhood, and he felt profound sadness and regret about not having a relationship with her as an adult. 

What’s worse, Bob was illiterate with a low IQ, and struggled to understand what was happening around him, much less express his feelings of guilt, shame, regret, and love for his daughter. He wanted to heal their relationship, but he felt powerless. 

Be a Force For Good

I couldn’t heal the relationship between Bob and his daughter. I couldn’t say anything that would ease the profound loss he felt. 

But by giving up all control to affect any particular outcome, I was able to help Bob beam his profound love for his daughter out into the universe before it was too late. 

This is not something I did intentionally. I had no idea what I was doing at the time. But the result was a beautiful coincidence that I don’t believe was a coincidence at all. 

I hope you’ll be as touched by Bob’s story as I have been, dear reader. And that it serves as a reminder that you do have the power to be a force for good in the world, as big and impossible as that sometimes feels. 

Happy holidays,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

How To Be A Force Of Good In The World

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: Carlos Farina, “Cappriccio Stravagante: Adagio”