I felt really pulled to write this after a conversation with my husband a few days ago. He said something quite profound that really opened my eyes to the deep down reasons as to why we can find it hard to support other people through their life decisions, and the harmful effects that our words and sometimes silence can have on them and their own self-worth.
This is a reminder to be conscious of our words and actions when it comes to the lives of others, as well as our own lives, and to approach these situations with kindness, compassion and love.
If you feel like you’re at a stage in your life where you’re considering or wanting to make changes, but those closest to you aren’t being very supportive, then please share this with them. This is written for those people, in the hope that they too will open their eyes.
I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones (although I don’t believe in luck), who has people in my life who wholeheartedly support me and encourage me to do what I want, which truly makes life feel much more comforting and less stressful. When you have this, it’s sometimes easy to forget that not everybody else does.
My husband and I have been through stages in our lives where loved ones did not support our decisions, and there’s still plenty of people in my life who don’t, and who I can’t be completely open and honest with, which can be tough. We’ve experienced several hard times in our lives where we were faced with big life decisions to make. The pain was bad enough when we weren’t even sure within ourselves if we were making the right choices, but to have some of the people closest to us not being supportive, just made life that much more difficult and confusing.
See, here’s the thing.
When we disagree with, don’t support or even mock the life decisions that other people want to make, particularly people who we love, what’s it’s really saying is that we don’t respect them.
We don’t respect them enough to believe that they know themselves well enough to make the right choices for THEM.
In a way, it’s almost saying that we know better than them. When in fact, we don’t. Nobody knows someone better than they know themselves.
Many of us have good intentions. We want the best for our loved ones and we want to protect them from getting hurt or from ‘failing’. But the only person who’s hurting them is us. We can never assume to know what’s best for them, because we don’t know everything that’s inside of them. We don’t wake up as them every morning, have to drag ourselves to the job they hate, or experience the thoughts and feelings they have. We are not them. They are their own unique being with their own emotions, thoughts, beliefs, passions and desires, and we can’t even begin to understand the things that they do.
So why do we do it?
What are we worried about? Why are we scared for them? Is it because we’ve been too scared ourselves to make changes in our own lives, or maybe we have tried in the past and it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped? Do we force them to play safe and live a life they don’t love just because we don’t feel comfortable diving into the unknown?
Whether spoken in a serious or joking manner, these words both have the same effect. One single sentence can kill someone on the inside.
Our words – and equally our silence or avoidance – can literally change the way somebody sees themselves. FOREVER.
It can devalue their self-worth. Once they believe their ideas and opinions are stupid or have no value, they may then see themselves as worthless.
Let’s not be that person.
Let’s not make someone’s life even harder for them than it already is.
They’re probably already experiencing negative conflict in their mind, being extremely self-critical and full of doubt and confusion.
This particularly applies if it’s our partner or child. Can you imagine how demeaning and disheartening it is for them to experience their loved one not believing in, respecting or trusting them? Most unsupportive behaviour tends to surface because of money worries. Most of us fear that we won’t or don’t have enough. Yet money ISN’T everything. Money is not worth living a shitty life for, where you dread turning up to work every day in a job you hate. As a society we all slog away through the daily grind and put up with it because we think that’s how we “should” be living. It’s just the “normal” thing to do.
But why should we? Who says?
Telling someone what they “should” do is just a perception of what’s right. It’s an opinion, not a truth.
This quote from one of Connie Chapman’s podcasts really resonates…
“Only take advice from people who have what you want.”
Everyone is different.
Rather than tell someone what to do – because we don’t truly know what’s best for them, let them create and follow their own path, instead of leading them down ours.
In the end, it may seem to be the ‘wrong’ decision, but that’s a lesson they need to learn for themselves. If they never try, they’ll never know, and they’ll spend their whole lives wondering what might have been.
But in my opinion, there are no ‘wrong decisions’. Everything happens for a reason, and while it may put us through pain for a little while, we’ll come out of it and be better for it.
I studied to become a teacher, and after two years of teaching I decided to leave and pursue Naturopathy. That didn’t work out either, because after a year of study I realised it wasn’t for me and I changed paths once again. Were those years a waste of my time and energy? No way! The things I learnt during that time (especially about myself), and the experiences I immersed myself in have helped shape me into the person I am today.
Every moment of our lives have lead us to the point we’re at RIGHT now. Never have any regrets, because if one moment in your past happened differently, then you would not be where you are. I love looking back and remembering the difficult periods in my life, but seeing them from a different perspective and realising how they lead to something else amazing in my life. Give it a try!
If you want those around you to be happy, let them choose what they want to do.
Let them express their true selves.
Never hold someone back from following the path that lights them up.
You’re doing the world a disservice, because what the world needs is for everyone to do what they love.