At one time or another we are all guilty of placing our own judgment or value on somebody else’s relationship or lifestyle. It’s the way our brain works. We process information by taking it in, synthesizing it, analyzing it, evaluating it, then applying it to real life. This shapes our worldview. Problems arise when we project our worldview on others and hold them accountable to our standards.
I remember getting frustrated with a friend who perpetuated a cycle of dysfunctional relationships yet continued to complain about it. I felt it was my right to give her advice since I was the one who had to listen to her complain when dudes kept dogging her. Although I may have had a point, I wasn’t being a good friend. It didn’t help the situation at all. In fact, it made it worse. I have come to realize everyone has knowledge and experience that shapes their worldview and influences the choices they make. If you have ever found yourself at odds with a family member, friend or foe over a relationship, here are 4 ideas to consider:
1. NOBODY WANTS ADVICE!
As a counselor, one of the first lessons I learned is people don’t want advice. Nobody likes to be told what to do, even if it is in their best interest. We are more likely to change if we recognize a need to do so on our own, as opposed to someone telling us to change. As a friend, if you give advice a friend doesn’t want to hear, they will likely resent you and censor what they tell you-if they tell you anything at all. Your best bet is to ask questions to empower your friend to find their own solution that works. If they ask for advice, make sure you understand what the problem is and how you can help before you give advice.
2. NO PITY PARTIES!
If you are like me, it’s hard for you to refrain from giving advice to someone who complains about life but does nothing to change it. You recognize that in listening to their pity-party you enable their behavior by continuing to support them through the self-inflicted dysfunction. In such a case, recognize the nature of your relationship and deal accordingly. I’m not saying cut the person off entirely, but set boundaries and refer them to someone who can help. Most importantly, when they do complain, change the topic or ask: “So what are we going to do to solve the problem?”
3. SET BOUNDARIES!
Some people are helpers by nature and we want to save the world, but we aren’t all prepared to do so. It is important to know your limits when trying to help people or you may suffer as a result of someone being unwilling to change. Be careful you don’t overestimate your power to help a friend. Everybody doesn’t want to be saved. Some people are perfectly content wallowing in misery and if you allow them, they will take you down with them.
4. NEVER SAY NEVER!
This one may be controversial, but I believe our purpose as human beings is for our souls to learn lessons and grow while we are here on Earth. When you say “I would never date him” or “I would never stay with a guy who did that” the universe seeks to show you that you never know what you will do in any given situation and should refrain from placing judgment. Experiences evoke feelings, feelings shape beliefs and beliefs govern behavior-which puts the age-old karmic law into motion.
5. CHECK YOURSELF!
Before you conjure up the advice your mother gave you, ask yourself “What is my motivation for giving this advice? What will I get out of it?” Most often people who give advice get something out of it, otherwise what is the point? It could be freedom from complaining, confidence in your own relationship, or a sense of fulfillment once the person achieves success. If your motives are selfish, check yourself. Your relationship isn’t everybody’s. People need and want different things.