One of the hardest life lessons is to love unconditionally, without trying to change or fix the other person. Women especially spend a big chunk of theirtime taking care of others. When it comes to family members, we’ll do whatever it takes to make them happier, even if that means neglecting our own needs.
?I’m very reactive to my family needs? says my client Ruth. ?I have to make sure everybody else is taken care of before I take care of me? says Susan, another client.
When I ask my clients about their most important values, family often comes up.
Family is important but we can’t be overprotective or too controlling.
It’s normal for a mother to want to take away the pain from her children and protect them from the world, even after they’ve grown up. My daughter lives far away from home, and whenever she calls me sounding a little tired, sad or frustrated, my instinctual response is to find what’s wrong and try to fix it myself, from far away. When my son was in college, I also wanted to be there to take care of him whenever he sounded too busy to take care of himself. But here is the thing: even if I could fix my children’s problems, would I ultimately be helping them grow or enabling them?
Helping them would make me feel better, but I recognize that a lot of the time I’m depriving them of an opportunity to find their own way. I want them to take their own path. It’s their journey to happiness, not mine.
I love them enough to let them find their way.
Whether it’s your children, your parents, your partner or your siblings, shift your focus to supporting them on their own path rather than trying to control them or convince them to do what you think is the right thing. Sometimes people just need your support, not your advice.
The Bottom Line: Shift your focus to supporting your loved ones on their journey, rather than making it fit with yours.
Ask: How can I help them without enabling them?
Affirm: I let others find their way and I am free.