Being the youngest of three children has had its pros and cons throughout my life. Yes, I was spoiled in my childhood and often heard my parents say “Leave the baby alone,” addressing my siblings. Being the baby did afford me some privileges. Both my brother and sister did their part to look out for me, as it should be.
As my siblings and I aged what I find is that they sometimes still look at me as that little baby sister and feel the need to inject themselves into my life with well meaning intentions and unsolicited advice. I’ll admit my sister does it much more than my brother. She feels that she is the only one who knows what’s best for my life and has no problem letting me know. It’s infuriating and we’ve had words because she treats me like I’m one of her children. I know I’m not the only person who deals with this. Are any of these statements familiar to you?
“Did you do this?
“Did you do that?”
“What you need to do is…..”
“I know this might piss you off, BUT…”
I believe this is something we’re all guilty of, whether it’s with family or friends. I’ve certainly been guilty of it. We really must learn to stop injecting ourselves into other people’s lives were we’re not asked to be. I’ve dealt with this for many years and recently realized its time for change. People who constantly have an opinion about something that has nothing to do with them tend to be judgmental and controlling. These very same people will reprimand you if you attempt to do the same to them. Sound familiar?
We all know the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
- If no one asks for your advice – don’t give it. When they do ask, give your advice in Love. More times than not – you don’t have the entire picture.
- If it doesn’t affect you, why get upset about?
- Just because something works for you doesn’t mean it will work for someone else.
- Respect other people’s space and their choices. It’s called FREE WILL!
“A lifetime can well be spent correcting and improving one’s own faults without bothering about others.” ~ Edward Weston ~
Whether you’re dealing with this situation with family or friends, Author Mark Matousek put this in perspective as follows:
This paradox can be excruciating. How is it possible for an ordinary, controlling individual to care intensely about his friends and loved ones without trying to change them? How can we give our treasured advice without feeling attached to its implementation? How can we witness friends making the same terrible decisions again and again — and again — without feeling the need to castigate them? Shouldn’t influence be part of the friendship contract, a modicum of say-so to help us guide the people we love to lead happier, more worthwhile lives?
The answer is: Absolutely not. We’re not meant to have any control whatsoever over the behavior of our friends and (our adult family members.) That is because their behavior is none of our business. Our opinions about the lives of others are void of inherent importance or meaning. This is the price of loving individuals born with a measure of free will: Control is never, ever, an option. We can no more dictate friends’ actions than they call the shots for us. This is the slipperiest slope on the friendship mountain, the most demanding incline of all:
How to be hands off and hands on at the same time;
Committed but not attached;
Attentive but not invasive;
Present yet guaranteedly distant. This distance is extremely important. Friendship requires distance and closeness, just like any intimacy does, which is why knowing when to keep our mouths shut is such a virtue.
Skillful detachment proves to others that we love them for who they are rather than the person they’d be if only they were perfect and listened to us.
Trust me, the old saying is true: the only person you truly have any control over, is yourself. Tend to the weeds in your own backyard. It takes some practice but in time it will bring us all to a place of peace.