Do you believe that each of us has a path in life? Have you ever tried to change someone else’s path or maybe just move them along their path a little quicker and with more clarity? Did they ask you for help with their path? How did it work out for you? For them?
I believe we each have a unique path in life. Personally, I’ve tried to change other people’s paths and it didn’t work out so well. I would see someone I cared about struggling and immediately tried to help them (without them asking me for help). Many times it caused more harm than good in our relationship.
I would get frustrated because “they were not taking my advice.” I could clearly see what they needed to do or not do. I know how unhealthy that sounds – now.
Although, in the past, I didn’t see it and it caused many conflicts and hurt feelings – mainly my own. For example, there are people in my life that struggled with alcohol addiction. In the past, I thought if I said the “right” thing or if I was always available when they needed me – I could help them get on the path to sobriety. I remember how upset I would get when I would find out they were still drinking.
It took me years to learn that I needed to stay in my lane and that I couldn’t change other people’s paths – even though there were times that I really, really wanted to.
It’s a life lesson that I was recently reminded about before making a trip to visit my mom. You may recall that my dad passed last year. I can’t believe that in July, it will be a year! My year of firsts is almost complete.
My mom has been struggling with the loss of her husband of 59 years. She has been on her path. She has read books on loss and grief, she has talked with a grief counselor and a therapist, etc., but she still feels lost without him. It has been tough and her grief has been overwhelming.
It worries me and makes me sad. I’ve caught myself trying to help her change the way she feels and what she is doing or not doing. I’ve also caught myself getting frustrated when she doesn’t take my advice.
This frustration was the clue that I was trying to change my mom’s path. So before my visit, I took a step back and set an intention. My intention was to love my mom, to listen to her (without judgment or going into fix-it mode), and to allow her to be exactly where she was with her grief, with her path.
It was amazing how different it felt when I allowed myself to just be there for my mom, to love her, to witness her on her path, and NOT try to change it. I’m not saying it was easy, but it was necessary so that I could lessen my frustration and conflict with my mom.
Each of us is responsible for our own unique path in life. Sure you can try and force or push someone to change their path, but don’t be surprised if the change doesn’t stick or if it is not met with appreciation or acknowledgment.
Are you someone that jumps in and wants to help others feel better? Is it met with appreciation or frustration? Have you considered that you may be trying to change their path – but it is not your job?
Remember we cannot change anyone else’s path. Frustration, conflict, and judgment with the people we care about – can be clues that we are going into the fix-it mode or that we are trying to change their path.
Next time you catch yourself not staying in your lane – take a step back and set your intention as they follow their unique path. It can be to simply love them unconditionally. To listen. To not say or do anything. To let them know you are there when/if they need you.
When you can meet someone where they are at, it is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and for your loved one.
“You have to meet people where they are, and sometimes you have to leave them there.” Iyanla Vanzant