Sunday, January 2, 2011

Holding the Line

One of the biggest lessons I have recently learned is that I can only work on myself. I can't fix what ails other people. I can help if I am asked or I see a place I can offer assistance, but I cannot do the work for other people. Everyone has their own process; their own path to walk and emotional baggage to sort through and manage.

My personality would prefer to charge in and make things easier for others, but I'm slowly understanding that I can't do that anymore. The personal price for me is far too high, and I am simply delaying the emotional work that the other person needs to do in order to heal from what is hurting them.

We are all responsible only for ourselves. We are here to support each other, and love the best that we can, but we cannot take over and fix anyone else's pain. I wish I would have learned this years ago, but we can only work with what becomes clear to us at any given moment. I didn't know this years ago, but I know it now, and I'm responsible to change my behaviour according to what I now understand to be true.

This hands-off philosophy is extremely liberating. It frees me up to spend my energy and resources on the things that are directly under my control, instead of stressing over someone else's problems. Sometimes it may be easier to attempt to fix another person's issue as a way to avoid looking at my own, but it puts the responsibility in the wrong place.

I'm tired of carrying other people's worries. If each of us accepted responsibility for what is ours, and left all of the rest, the world would be a more peaceful and loving place. I want to teach my children how to find the line between their emotional baggage and someone else's, and defend that line. I don't want them worrying about my pain and anxiety; that is for me to carry and manage. They will have enough to think about if they are honest about their own process. I see it as part of my parenting role to help them with this defining and maintaining, but the best way to teach is to live it myself.

Any change takes a long time to properly implement. There is always a period where it feels strange to be trying the new way, but if we persist, a better habit will eventually be formed, and that will become the new standard for us. I know this hands-off philosophy will eventually feel more comfortable. For now, it still hurts, and causes me stress, but I cannot take on responsibility for someone else's emotional process. Mine is enough, and I must hold my line, even when it doesn't feel comfortable to do so.


  1. A tough, but good lesson to learn. I'm trying but its not easy!

    P.S. Haven't been here in a few days- love the new background!

  2. Thanks, Jan! I wanted a new look for a new year. I agree that holding a bondary line is hard but worth it in the end.