In any large, working harbor buoys mark the deep-water shipping channels. A captain knows to use them to guide the craft.
This "journey to health" is like that.
I see so many people posting messages like "I'm desperate, help me."
I feel sorry for them, but after while, I become impatient.
Help them how? What would help? What can I do that would genuinely benefit them?
It doesn't help someone when you try to do things for them. YOU may know how to plan a diet, but if you try to do it FOR them, they won't learn anything. They won't know, as they go down the road, where they can make changes, or how to investigate options. They won't be able to customize a plan for themselves.
Does that help anyone?
One technique could be "the vague directions." I wouldn't advocate not responding at all to a request for information, but I've learned not to explain how-to's in any great detail. Instead, I try to post links, or point the way to specific information, or give someone an idea where to seek an answer. I want to give them the hands-on experience of finding it for themselves.
Using the harbor example at the top of this blog - be a tugboat. Help guide the craft, but don't take the helm.
We often talk in terms of "baby steps," saying that small changes made bit-by-bit will help people progress. And it will. But how do you encourage a baby to take her first steps? Interacting, spending time, giving consoling hugs when she falls, cheers when she succeeds.
You can't take the steps for her. Cheer someone on, but don't try to carry them to success.
At the end of the day, this may be the most fruitful help of all. "I hear you... I understand... I can identify..." These are the phrases of kindness and friendship, and the best way to bridge the gap that the distance of the internet causes.
The simple "I'm here" may be all someone needs for reassurance.
You've played Follow-The-Leader. Now's the time to show someone what you've learned. Have you found a team that inspired you? Do you know of some bloggers you read regularly? How about any articles you've bookmarked? Let people know where you've been and where you're going. They may not find all of the places useful, but it will familiarize them with the process, helping them move from fledgling to flying solo.
Lead by example.
I don't know how much help (if any!) I am to new Sparklers, but I think some simple, common-sense guidelines are the best way to go about nudging someone in the right direction.
Have a good'un, Sparklers - carpe diem!