Check out this quote by Gerald Jampolsky. Good to know, right? Such a relief. And so easy to forget! How often do we go down the thankless road of thinking we can influence others, heal them, fix them or make their lives and ours better if we could only make them see…
Have you ever done this? Think about it. Family members, friends, co-workers and even other drivers on the road illustrate our tendency to want to bend others’ wills to our liking. Ever here someone complain incessantly about their spouse? “If he would just listen, everything would be okay…” Or, “I wish she would eat healthier.” You get the picture.
We have a tendency to believe deep down that we know what’s best for people. Well, we certainly know what’s best for us, right? In relation to the examples above, the subtext goes, “If he would listen, he would agree with me and do as I wish” and “If she would eat healthier, I wouldn’t be tempted to order dessert every time we go out.”
Stating directly what you need is more effective, even if it’s still not your business. They’ve figured out your selfish motivation anyway. If you’re honest about it, it might disarm the defensiveness. So the husband might say, “When we ask for the dessert menu, my will power goes out the window. Can we make it a special occasion thing?” This is a step in the right direction, but it’s still a strategy to control someone else. If you want to prompt personal growth, let her do what she’s going to do and focus on how it affects you. Stay aware of your reaction and investigate your inner experience. Reassure yourself. Calm down. This exercise reminds me of a funny saying I came across recently: “Stress is caused by giving a fuck.”
Remember that it’s not your job to fix or change anyone else. The beauty is that you have the ability to change yourself. When you do that in relation to others, the relationship is transformed. If you find it annoying when you always end up paying the bill out with a friend, change your behavior. This is a great opportunity to practice your assertiveness. It benefits you and them when you speak your truth and set healthy boundaries. For example, rather than just dropping the friend, you could say, “Lunch? Hmmm. You got the check this time?” If someone else’s bad behavior pushes you out of your comfort zone– good. There’s your lesson. You’ll know based on how they respond whether the friendship is worth keeping.
The key overall is orienting to your inner truth. If I want my son to get passionatley involved in an extracurricular activity, I can offer suggestions, but I’d better realize that this is my agenda, not his. Why do I want this for him? Because I want to see him happy and thriving. Yet, if I calibrate to him instead of my idea of what that looks like, he is doing just fine, thanks. Can’t expect a dolphin to gallop through the field.
But what about those who seem to really need your help? Sure, occasionally this is a legit time to intervene. Just realize that even friends who are suffering are sometimes willfully wedded to their misery. Every time you try to dig them out, they go deeper in. It feels so good to realize that you are responsible for you and another’s life is not your job. Their choices and way of being is their business. Don’t kid yourself into believing that you are the chosen one- The Savior- who is uniquely qualified to turn things around for them. That just gives you an inflated sense of superiority. By thinking they can’t figure it out without you, you take on a kind of superhero or God role for them. Is that really helpful? Nah. They need inner strength, not dependancy.
I recently walked by a dad who told his daughter, “All help is not helpful.” So true. It’s analogous to letting a kid learn to tie his own shoes. It’s painful to watch, time-consuming, and he may trip and fall, but the alternative is a lifetime of velcro straps. That’s not a good look in the board room. So relax, wise reader. You’re off the hook. Back off, butt out and be at peace. Learn to stay Buddha calm, even as they stay the same. Smile at what IS and your freedom from doing anything about it. In doing so, you are actually changing- yourself. Om.