My friend Pete recently let me in on a paradigm shift I found helpful. He was talking about a friend of his who, for some reason, was taking up a bit too much of his mental space. He was beginning to feel responsible for a friends bad decisions. Another friend of Pete’s said that Pete needed to be responsible TO his friend, not FOR his friend.
Pete explained this meant he was responsible to be kind to his friend, understanding, helpful, professional if that’s what the relationships required and so on. But his friend’s decisions and even his emotions were that of his friend not of Pete’s.
So, if you’re feeling guilty about somebody else’s mistakes, their depression, or their being irritated, it might be good to ask yourself if you’ve done anything wrong that has caused that, and if not, the problem really is there problem. You can be responsible to them, to be kind and comforting, but when you become responsible for them, you are going to grow tired of the relationship, because you are going to feel guilty about issues that are not yours, but theirs.Donald Miller
This spoke to me on a few different levels. It reminded me of not only friends but the many, many times I was in this same position with parents and in-laws. Those who should have had years of wisdom beyond mine and didn't have a decent working thought between them. You know it isn't good when your MIL calls and says, You're not going to like this... and goes on to tell you their latest bad choice. I can't tell you how many nights their bad decisions left me unable to sleep. Worrying about how they would pay for things, and quite honestly, how it would affect me. I say this because of our history.
When I was in the hospital having my daughter, my inlaws's stove broke and they moved into my house. When my husband broke the news to me, my reaction was less than admirable.
THEY WILL BE GONE BEFORE I GET HOME, I told DH...again, much acquired history by then - and they were gone before I got home.
I understand my part in all this. Responsible to not for. Is that tough or what? As far as paradigm shifts go, this is a fabulous one to implement. Wish I had known this many years ago, it would have been a life saver but the alas, it has taken...is taking many years to see this as an option and a good one.
Lessons come in shifts. You don't always get the ones you need, in the Moment. Sometimes you have to bank them for a later date. Put them in your mental savings account for later.