How often do you notice yourself jumping at every opportunity to correct the people you love, what they should do, how they should be, and why they need to change? If you see yourself doing that, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
You may not do it consciously, but on some level, whether it’s subconscious, unconscious, or even on a soul level, you may come into this world thinking that you need to be a rescuer or to be someone else’s Savior or that you need to enter a relationship trying to be a fixer upper; you know, the kind of person ready to change the other person. Yet, the uncomfortable truth is, the person who really needs to change is him or herself. Yes, that means, you.
That’s why I love the beautiful quote from Guy Finley above about how “love is letting go and giving others room to grow.” Love is letting go of the attachment, needing to fix someone, and taking on another’s stuff. It’s the ability to honor who the person is, who he or she chooses to be at the moment, and respect where the person’s level of consciousness and belief systems are at the time. Trust that no matter what, everything will work out the best for him or her. I know how hard this can be at times when you think you know better and what’s best for the person, but, love, is about seeing the good in all despite feeling that something bad might happen to the person if you don’t intervene.
Because if you don’t let go of this fixation, this can make you really sick if you continue to try to save someone. When you make saving another person’s life your priority, you won’t have the energy and resources to tend to your own life or “garden.” As Byron Katie says, there are “only three kinds of business in the universe–mine, yours, and God’s.”
Here’s what Katie has to say further in Loving What Is: Four Questions that Can Change Your Life:
“Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, “You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,” I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business.”
I like the last part Katie says about “when I will die.” I can scratch that item off my worry list. Even that, too, is none of our business. Now, doesn’t that feel more freeing when we stop worrying about the future and just live life fully in the moment?
Let’s go back to the metaphor of a garden. When your priorities are misaligned with your higher purpose, and when things really need attention in your life, you will miss the warning signs. Soon, like a garden, without proper attention and nourishment, weeds will grow and signs of withering will appear. If you allow this to happen, you will see these “weeds” show up as crises and other imbalances in your life.
There are many signs, ways, and signals your body may cry out to you that something is amiss and out of balance, but as I’ve stated earlier, you may miss these warning signs if you’re busy doing other things. At first, the sign to get your attention may be subtle. Then, if you still don’t get what the message is, this warning progresses to something else bigger. And, if you still haven’t picked up on this signal and what changes you need to make in your life, the next warning might be through an illness. By then, things are really out of control at that point.
Because now, in addition to the illness, not only do you have to play detective to see what the warning signs were trying to tell you in the first place so that you can find your way back to your Source again, you also have to pull out all of the “weeds” and other things that were growing in your garden while you were busy tending to other people’s lives. Remember, the problems that arise in your life are specific to your own level of growth. Just because so and so went through that doesn’t mean you will and vice versa.
And sometimes when you invest all of your energy into “correcting the path of others,” you may unknowingly be taking on their pain and symptoms as well. According to psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff, it’s possible to absorb other people’s symptoms. And, come to think about it, “Why would any sane person want to do that?” If you see yourself doing this, Dr. Orloff says: “Don’t panic if you occasionally pick up pain or some other nasty symptom. It happens.” It’s a problem only if you consistently and constantly do it because this can be one reason why you might not be healing.
As you learn to tend to your own garden, one of the most uncomfortable things you may witness as you let go and give others the inner space for expansion is that the people you care about may choose (on a higher spiritual level) a path of suffering, pain, and struggle. On a human level, I know you don’t want to see them go through that when they have the opportunity to choose better. You may offer your help and suggestions, but, if the people you love don’t choose an easier path out, there isn’t much you can do except to let nature take its course and allow them to work out their own problems. As hard as this may be, to let go of the need to fix someone, there is no other way around it. To get your life in order, you have to find a balance that is right for you.
Dr. Orloff also supports this way of being:
“Keep this in mind: it is none of our business to deprive anyone else of their life experiences. I understand the impulse to want to make things better. Compassion and the desire to console are human. But there’s a fine line between supporting someone and trying to do it for them. No matter how well-meaning or heartfelt your intention, doing too much is not an act of love but of sabotage. You can be caring and honest with someone, yet still let them be.” – Dr. Judith Orloff’s Guide to Intuitive Healing: 5 Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Wellness
Ironically, when you tend to your own garden first, you’ll have more resources and energy available to help others when they truly need your help. Remember Guy Finley’s quote above? It’s about giving people the “un-invaded inner space they must have in order to fully experience the consequence of their own choices.”
In the meantime, “let them be,” as Dr. Orloff says.
I say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Note: If you don’t know if you’re taking on other people’s stuff, QT practitioners can help determine if you are. A QT session is the quickest way to help you find your balance, set clearer boundaries, and flush things out that aren’t yours.