Know When to Live and Let Live
Compassion and empathy are not overrated but there is only so much you can do for someone and where the direction of their life goes depends solely on them even, it’s called “free will” and it’s everyone’s right to choose.
It’s noble to want to help another but sometimes is more noble to allow someone the same freedom that you have to make your own decisions and to ask for assistance if they want it. I think we have all, at one time or another, felt that we knew what was better for someone we care about so much so that we take the task to heart of trying to show them the way or help out. The truth is though that “the way” is really up to them and if you find yourself in this situation, like I have many times, the best solution is to step back and let them live their own life. It’s not easy, believe me I know, especially when your empathy compass is going overboard taking on their feelings of either helplessness or despair.
If you are strongly predisposed to helping others you may find that even if you are successful you could be draining yourself. Your emotional well-being could be depleted causing the other components of your well-being to become unbalanced and when you become unbalanced you are of no assistance to anyone.
I know the almost euphoric feeling of making someone feel better, it is truly inspiring but keep in mind the feeling that also follows when you accomplish something you didn’t think you could do. As much as you want to help someone you are denying them that sense of accomplishment of overcoming a challenge they didn’t think they could, I think that feeling is even more monumental and of course will affect them much more deeply.
I don’t mind constructive criticism, I always like to hear different thought processes and to have the opportunity to invite new ways of thinking into my awareness but I know that I don’t like being told what to do and that could be the resistance you may experience when you try to over-assist in someone else’s life. Sometimes we don’t necessarily look for someone else to run our lives or assist and it’s just a matter of being the sounding board that they have to vent to without judgement. Not everything requires action on my part and learning to recognize when I’m trying to show someone “the way” is an evolving lesson for me that I don’t think I’ve quite nailed down yet. Work in progress, I can accept that.
I think the biggest lesson for me is learning to step back and know when to live and let live. If someone needs my help I have to allow them the opportunity to ask, if I offer it and they don’t accept, I have to learn to accept that. Not everything is meant to be changed, everyone has their own lessons, who am I to challenge what the universe has set out for each of us. I can continue to have compassion and empathy for others but when it starts to affect my life in a negative way that is an indication for me to recognize that it is their journey not mine.
There are many reasons why certain lives go a certain direction and why some people choose not to change it and I’ve learned that even though I think I know best, I really don’t.
Like Kenny Rogers says, you’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run.
It’s a good theory for me to pay attention to, to remember and to live by. As much as I may want to see everyone living what I think is a joyful, happy and enriched life, it doesn’t mean that I know what that is for everyone. There isn’t a “one size fits all” when it comes to a blessed life.
I was watching the “Anderson” daytime talk show one day and there was two young women as guests that had had very difficult challenges in their lives from an early age and they had the wisdom to recognize that even though their challenges were hard there were others that had had it worse. Both of them had been through much counselling and therapy and in one of their group therapy sessions the therapist had had them, with the group, create a circle and put their problems (discuss them) in the center and said that at the end they would probably all be quite happy to pick their own back up and walk away with it and they had said they agreed. They would much rather walk away with their own issues than pick up another’s, sometimes as terrible as we think our problems are they are familiar and we know how to live in them.
I think everyone, no matter what their age, can teach us something and the best thing we can do sometimes is to just listen, sometimes that is of more help than you realize. Not everything requires a grand scale of assistance, sometimes simplicity is much more helpful.