When it comes to our stories, most of us want to think of ourselves as people who are supportive of others. How much of your story involves giving to those in your community who are less fortunate? Many people don’t often ask this question of themselves until a stranger asks them for money.

Over the years, I’ve heard many reasons why people choose not to give money to street people who ask for it. They include:
• If I give them money, they’ll just use it for drugs or alcohol. I don’t believe their stories of needing money for transportation, a room, or food.
• I may catch something, so I shouldn’t get too close to homeless people.
• Maybe these people are dangerous and will try to rob me.
• If they really tried and worked hard, these people on the street could change their circumstances.
• They don’t really deserve help—they haven’t earned it, and my giving will just keep them from getting their lives back together.

In the past, I’ve had similar reactions. Never having lived on the street, I found it difficult to understand how someone could end up in the position of not having shelter and needing to ask strangers for spare change. But now when I walk down a street in Chicago and someone asks me for money, I give some. I don’t subscribe to many of my past preconceptions any more. Even if some are true, I choose to give anyway. When I think about this choice, I recall what Jesus taught about helping people who are in need. He didn’t ask about their worthiness or how they got to where they are. He simply said to help people who need help.

In some cases, I’ve gotten to know the people to whom I’ve given money. I’ve offered them suggestions for job training or housing. I’ve told them about local churches that can give them support. Often, the people did not follow up on my attempts to help. Instead of feeling rebuffed, I remind myself that many other people I know, including myself, don’t change very easily when it might be in our best interests to do so. We may have many reasons for resisting change, including not knowing how to do it.

So now I don’t try to change people I give to on the street. I just give them something positive in the form of money and a kind word that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. I let them decide how best to use what I give. My hope is that their lives will unfold in ways pleasing to them and Spirit.

How do you react to people who ask you for money? If you never give them money, experiment with doing so while giving them a silent blessing that their lives might be changed for the better in some way. Experiment by giving them some change while expressing kindness and compassion with your body language and perhaps your words, too. What might change in your story if you were to change how you react to people on the street asking you for money?

Author's Bio: 

Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD is a practicing clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst, and shamanic practitioner. His shamanic work is drawn from a mix of North American and South American indigenous traditions and is influenced by Jungian analytic psychology. He has worked or trained with shamans on five continents and trained at Dr. Alberto Villoldo’s Healing the Light Body School, where he has taught. Carl Greer is involved in various businesses and charities, teaches at the Jung Institute in Chicago, is on the staff of the Lorene Replogle Counseling Center, and holds workshops on shamanic topics. He is the author of the new book Change Your Story, Change Your Life: Using Shamanic and Jungian Tools to Achieve Personal Transformation by Carl Greer © 2014, Findhorn Press. Now available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com and www.CarlGreer.com