So during a phone call today with a family member, they shared some news that is potentially really awful for them involving life changing decisions contrary to what they actually want to do. They’re pretty much unable to do anything other than what they are to change the outcome and are understandably devastated.
Now, after this phone call, I sat and brainstormed for an hour about how to ‘fix it’, googled who might be able to actually help them, could we throw money at the problem (probably not but we’re by no means rich either!)? Basically WHAT THE F*CK CAN I DO TO ‘FIX THIS’.
About four hours later it dawned on me that she didn’t even ask me for help, nor was it any of my business to offer advice when she hadn’t actually asked for any. Probably because she didn’t need my help since she had it covered and also because I can’t help. I’d spent four whole hours getting worked up and frustrated and upset for her and because I couldn’t fix it I became more frustrated and so it went on. I also wondered how many times this had happened before and I’d just given a solution to a question they hadn’t even asked and didn’t want or need me to answer. AKA, mind your own frigging business. Taking this as something to keep an eye on since I could have been a bit of an a**hole it would seem and no-one likes a knowitall Nancy, especially one who actually DOES NOT KNOW IT ALL!! But anyway I digress …
I believe I have an inherent need to ‘fix’ things possibly when they don’t need fixing even if I know I can’t fix them. I’ve been working hard for the past year to be better at letting situations go that I cannot influence or change and, instead of trying to change the situation or person, to change my reaction and therefore MY outcome. When someone said this to me, they had to repeat it several times over several weeks for me to really comprehend what it meant for me. It has turned out to be a complete revelation.
Change nothing you get the same outcome. You can’t change them or the situation but you can change your reaction, so change it. Change your reaction, change the outcome.
It’s actually an equation and a bloody amazing one (never thought I’d say that!).
Similarly my sister had a bit of an upsetting week and I instinctively tried to ‘fix’ it but then pulled back and just listened and gave advice if she asked for it. I changed my reaction and, I hope, my sister benefitted in that she got the ear she needed and advice to draw on if she decided it was right for her and I didn’t have the pressure I usually heap on myself to sort her situation for her. She didn’t need me to fix anything anyway but she didn’t feel babied or condescended and the ‘new way’ meant I didn’t feel stressed about a situation that wasn’t mine. WINNER!
Once I’d fought off my need to ‘fix’ her issues (four frigging hours later!) I realised she is one of two types of people I seem to have in my life, possibly simplified but bear with me. She was like the majority of people I have in my life; loving, giving, supportive and absolutely equally inputting into our relationship. She didn’t want anything tangible from me; no money, no solutions, no advice. She just wanted my time and support. An ear to listen and just some sympathy for what is a shitty situation. I’m hoping for anyone reading this that the majority of people in your life fall into this category since this is the healthy way to have close relationships and mine have got me through a tough couple of years.
Then there’s THE OTHERS. The people who masquerade as the above type of people or genuinely believe that they are. This is not the case. These people communicate their problems or day to day lives, not to share or to empathise or to just share with you their day so you’re connected.
It is to offload onto you.
To make their problems your problems.
To make their situations to fix, your situations to fix.
Your solution don’t work? It’s your fault to fix.
And so it goes on.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE. Or this SHOULD NOT be the case. My personality as a wannabe ‘fixer’ meant that I took this on happily time after time after time until it came to a point where my personal life meant I could not take on anyone else’s crap. Financially, mentally, physically (I was pregnant) I was struggling but still taking on crap after shit after turd after dump after [insert other word for poo here]. You can imagine the shock after 15 years of doing the same merry-go-round that i suddenly put the brakes on with no rhyme or reason. The transition was a tough one for either side of the relationship and still ongoing. I’m still learning about myself at 31, something I thought I would be well done with by now Oh the arrogance of youth! But I’m doing better, I’m happier, I’m better protected and have better boundaries for my happiness.
In the past year I’ve really been trying to surround myself with more positive people, actions, hobbies, anything really! The positivity I’ve seen online since rejoining Instagram as Mum of Two Without A Clue (@mumoftwowithoutaclue) has shown that it doesn’t have to be an effort and other bloggers prove that it will become less of an effort and more of an automatic feeling the further I progress. The lessons I’ve learned about myself and others and how my reaction is the important thing, not their reaction, not the fallout, not the upset as, if I change my reaction, the entire situation changes.
Surround yourself with people who love, support and listen to you, not those who talk for you, over you or at you.
Stick together because we’ve got this.