During a conversation with my significant other, I was expressing my opinions on what he should do to recuperate after an injury he had sustained from a car accident. Toward the end of the discussion I felt his light dim as I repeatedly encouraged him to slow down and stop doing so much. After we hung up I sat with the feeling of defeat on the other end of the phone and had a realization: He is living his best life by working hard, pushing his limits and creating joy for the ones he loves. And in all of this he is living his purpose.
Prior to this conversation I was oblivious to the idea that I was allowing my fear of his ill health to drive my intentions. He was just happily living in the moment and making the best of the time he has right now while I was stuck in anticipation of an unknown future, one me and my overactive imagination had conjured up while contemplating a worst case scenario.
By pushing my agenda in the disguise of “wanting what’s best for you,” I failed to notice I was taking away the gratification he felt from doing things for others. I had become an unintentional bully and created an unintended side effect of my “good deed”: selfish behavior.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the idea that we know what’s best for someone else we can become blinded by our perspective vs. theirs. But do we really know what’s best for them? Or is it what would be best for us if we were in their situation? Are we pushing them to make decisions that would benefit us, or benefit them? Having this internal debate with myself, I’ve decided that moving forward I vow to be more objective with everyone around me and follow a few guidelines to keep me on track:
Offer guidance, but remove yourself from the responsibility of how others receive it.
When we accept responsibility for how someone responds to our suggestions, we often take it personally when they don’t follow the advice. We expect them to act the way we would act in that scenario, but why would they? They have a completely different mindset and view of the world around them. And they have free will to do what they choose.
Allow others to make their own choices.
We are all on our own path of discovery and what works for some may not work for others. The choice they make may land them on their face, but even if we see that coming there is a valuable lesson in it for the receiving party. If we take away their ability to make choices we can enable them to become codependent and lose a part of who they are by relying too heavily on the opinions of others.
Hold space and love them where they are.
We may not always understand why someone else does things the way they do. But moving forward do we really need to? If we can trust in the decisions they make for themselves and offer support, whether it was a good or bad decision, we can more easily love others unconditionally, just the way they are.