Today I am writing this for everyone. It does not matter if you are in a traditional job or one that is considered to be alternative or complementary. It matters not if you are male, female, non-binary, or whatever. It does not matter if you are young or old. It does not matter what race you are. There is something very important that I have noticed everyone needs to know. Here it is. Are you ready? Here we go.
It is NOT your job to fix other people. Period.
Too often I find that people are tied up in knots because of some issue or problem that someone else has. They say that they feel compassion for them. They say that they feel empathy for them. But the truth is…they are making that other person’s challenges and issues ALL ABOUT THEMSELVES and not about the other person.
There is definitely something to be said for detachment. The art of detachment is NOT about not caring, or about not being empathetic or compassionate. It is about allowing the other person the space and time to figure it all out for themselves. You do not have to do anything to guide them or protect them. Simply allow them to figure it out.
“Oh, a lot easier said than done, Deerhorn!” I have heard so many people flip that one out at me. The truth is that this response is lazy. It means that you are not willing to put the effort into giving someone else the dignity of their own learning situation. You are becoming a control freak who thinks you have all the answers for everyone and that your answers will always fit for every person you meet. You are treating them like they are part of your cookie cutter people planet, when they are not.
One of the things that I have found is that people have most often not been shown HOW to do this. I thought it wise to give a few pointers.
- Instead of advising anyone on what they must do, ask them how they are planning to deal with whatever the issue is. When they tell you, honor that, but also feel free to ask questions and coax ideas out of them to help them to find even more efficient ways of dealing. Don’t poke holes in their ideas. Acknowledge them and then ask more questions.
- Encourage them to keep trying. It is easy to just throw your hands in the air, give up, and let someone else take the wheel. What is more important is to try, fail, try, fail, try and then, hopefully succeed. All of those failures are precious learning opportunities. So do not take those away from anyone.
- Ask them about how the situation makes them feel. Listen to their answers.
- Ask them how they would like to feel about it instead? Listen to their answers.
- Ask them what possibilities they see for how to bridge from how they feel to how they would prefer to feel? Listen to the answers.
- Let them know that you have faith that they can figure this out for themselves. Most people don’t even have faith in themselves let alone anyone else. Hearing that someone has faith in you makes a world of difference when it comes to making changes in life, be they big or small.
- Inform them when they are simply spinning their wheels and how dangerous it is to stay stuck in an unhealthy place. Challenge them to make the changes they know they need to make for themselves and remind them that only THEY are able to do that for themselves and no one else is able to do it for them.
- Celebrate the small victories so that they know someone is watching and cheering them on.
- Show them love and respect throughout their challenging times. This allows a person to know that someone cares for them and understands their process. It also affirms for them that having a struggle in life does not make them unlovable. Everyone has struggles through life. Everyone has many opportunities to rise to those challenges and become even better than they were before.
- If they ask for your advice, don’t tell them what they should do. Instead tell them what you might do in that type of situation. Everyone is different and what you might do may not be what they decide to do. Don’t hold that against them. They need to do their life in their own way. Giving advice is never something that is tied up in obedience. They do not owe you their obedience and they do not have to do anything you advise. This is simply opportunity for you to share how you would handle it, knowing that they may choose something different altogether.
- If they need your assistance to make some necessary changes, lend that. For example, someone may need help moving out of a home that is abusive. Help them with that. But do not judge them for having to do it or for having taken so long to get around to it.
When we detach from outcomes we allow others the opportunity to learn, heal and grow on their own, in their own time and in their own space. Remember that it may take them longer than it would have taken you, so when you feel frustrated with it, simply give yourself room to breathe and to ground. You may shake your head at times because of some silly decisions they make along the way. Keep that to yourself. They don’t need your judgement. They need your support. It is not your job to judge them, and it is not your job to fix them.