My grandmother once said to me, “Helen, all you want is everything. You want to have your way. And you want everyone to be happy about it.” I was 21 years old at the time, and trying to convince my parents that they should fund my desire to drive across the US with my then boyfriend as a college graduation gift. They provided the money. But they were not happy about it. Unfortunately, even partial success encouraged me to continue in this thinking and behavior over the years.
In my lifetime, I have expended untold effort not only trying to get people to do things my way, but also trying to get people to see things my way. Surviving a divorce 8 years ago launched these skills to a new level (“But I have to explain my side!”). Even today, I struggle with this tendency- as a mother of grown daughters, as an NGO worker, and as a public advocate for victims of human trafficking. All three of these roles can feed my need to convert others to my way of viewing the world.
It’s not that others cannot benefit from my perspective. I have learned much in the last 50+ years (mostly the hard way). And I’m privileged to share my hurt and my Healer whenever I’m asked.
The key for me is “whenever I’m asked”.
I’m learning (still usually the hard way) that I’m more likely to be “asked” if:
- I am in relationship with this person. Mutual. Genuine. No agenda.
- I ask questions and listen– with a sincere desire to understand the other.
- I am living my life in a way that invites questions.
The “elephant rope” (or false belief) is that I can force solutions, answers, or timing in someone else’s life. I can’t tell someone what to do, much less what to think, or how to feel. What I can do is live joyfully, listen attentively, and love unconditionally… and leave the outcome to God. He is really the only one who can change minds and hearts- including mine. Especially mine.