By Jacky Exton
Accepting These 2 Things Will Improve All Your Relationships
I recently found myself at a gathering of friends and family.
It was a relatively intimate affair with around eight (almost) like-minded people. Only just within my range of acceptable (I’m not one for big social affairs).
There were some interesting topics up for debate, but one specific conversation caught my attention the most.
A friend’s sister was being discussed. In great detail. More specifically her recent choices about her current relationship and trip abroad.
Before I proceed I must just clarify that this wasn’t what I would term gossip. There was genuine concern from all contributing to the conversation. Or so we told ourselves.
I’ve been out of touch for a bit and am unfamiliar with her recent exploitations so I was observing. What I noticed was the way everyone had one or many opinions (as we do) about her choices. And additionally, each person was totally convinced that THEIR opinion was the correct one.
“She would have learnt more if she had travelled alone”
“I’m so disappointed in her choice in her new boyfriend”
“Her parents shouldn’t still be supporting her”
And so on..
We’ve ALL been there. We’ve ALL done it!
Don’t we always know better?
“If only everyone could just do it MY way then it would all work out..” Surely?
And we mean well. Of course, we do!
It’s said with the best of intentions.
I remember a time in my earlier adult life when circumstance and desperation led me to embark on my own epic journey into understanding myself. As I happened upon great insights into my own expansion and growth I would feel a great urge to share it with as many willing ears as possible!
Surely everyone would benefit from my newly found enlightenment? Doesn’t everyone need fixing? Doesn’t one size fit all..??
Here’s what I’ve learnt:
1. Respect Everyone’s Individual Path as Unique to Them
We’re all on our own paths to enlightenment. And that in and of itself may mean many different things to different people. What I see as enlightenment may not be anywhere close to your perception of the same.
Which doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Or that I’m right.
It means my perception right FOR ME.
And your perception is right FOR YOU.
And the real gift is being able to respect that in yourself and everyone around you.
Recently my daughter dyed her hair purple. Yup, purple!
She was just entering the job market post studies and I was horrified! Surely this couldn’t be right for her? What would people think? Would she even get any interviews with prospective employers?
As it happened she did. Really quickly. And she has employed at one of the most well-respected (and conservative) academic institutions in our country.
With her purple hair.
So it was definitely right for her. Even though it wasn’t right for me.
2. Everyone Knows What’s Best for THEM
Only I stand in my shoes and experience my life through my eyes. As do you.
Hence my personal perspective is completely my own. As is yours.
That also means that any opinion I have of your life is based on my own experience and not yours. So how can my opinion of your life be relevant? At all..?
I have a friend whose life borders on chaotic. At least that’s how it seems to me.
She never stops. Ever. Unless she’s sleeping (and even then I’m sure her dreams are busy too..!)
I need to clarify here that my life is the opposite of chaotic. By choice of course. And that suits me.
I remember thinking that she definitely needed to slow down. How could this level of busyness be beneficial to anyone??
And so I told her. On numerous occasions.
And she patiently listened to my wafflings on the benefits of being “un-busy”.
And then ignored them. Politely.
So I did what any self-respecting strong willed know-it-all would do. I felt OFFENDED.
For quite a while actually.
Until I got it. And understood. Eventually.
That being busy works for her. From her perspective. In her reality.
And that I didn’t need to understand it.
I just needed to respect it.
Here’s the Upside:
When you let go of judging other people’s life choices, and embody the concept of respecting that everyone knows what’s best for them, you’ll find an amazing sense of liberation.
We’re not meant to fix anyone else.
We’re not meant to compare our circumstances.
And that’s something we need to remember the next time we find ourselves indulgently spewing our opinion at some unsuspecting friend or family member when actually all they needed was and ear to bear witness. And someone to show-up.
Isn’t that all we ever need?