We’re now in the sandwich space between Thanksgiving (in the US) and Christmas. Opportunities abound to spend time with loved ones. And opportunities abound for those very same ones we love to push our buttons.
Unless you’re living on another planet where feathers never get ruffled by other people, especially the ones you share genetic material with, this season is rife with chances to choose how you respond to said ruffled feathers.
There are times when someone pisses you off and you must say something in that moment. You’re telling your family about something exciting that happened to you at work and suddenly your sister interrupts you to complain about how her boss never acknowledges her for her ideas. A kind but firm reminder that you were in the middle of a story may be in order.
Then there are other times. Your dad starts doing that thing he always does that he’s been doing since you were a kid, that thing you hate. You’ve asked him to stop doing it several times in the past. Every time you bring it up it’s painful—you feel like your heart is undergoing a dissection on the dining room table. And yet here he is doing it again.
Three Simple Questions
These are those times when it’s really helpful to ask yourself three simple questions that a girlfriend shared with me a while back.
Here’s how it works:
A scenario arises when someone does or says something that doesn’t feel good to you. You feel an emotion rise to the surface. Your cheeks get hot and your tongue stings with choice words for that person.
Before you speak, ask yourself:
- Does it need to be said?
- Does it need to be said by me?
- Does it need to be said right now?
If all three of the answers are not yes, consider taking a deep breath instead of blurting something out.
I believe in transformation. In fact, I live for it. People can change and they do every day.
But the truth is, certain people do certain things that drive us nuts, and they may never stop doing them.
I’ve realized of late that there comes a moment when I’ve said what I’ve needed to say once, twice, or even ten times—and I’m done.
At some point, you have to release the seductive idea that you can change another person. (Tweet it.)
I’m not advocating that you pretend things are okay when they aren’t. I’m not advocating that you stuff your feelings. I’m not advocating that you tolerate abuse of any kind.
I’m simply suggesting surrender. Surrender to another person’s soul journey. Surrender to their need to be who they are and do what they need to do. Surrender to the fact that there may be nothing you can do or say to change them. Surrender to letting them be.
We find peace when we let go and let others find their way.
We find serenity when we accept the things (and people) we cannot change.
This holiday season and beyond, may we all give the people in our lives the space to be who they are, no matter who we might like them to be instead.
May we say only the things we need to say, right now, and may we say them with love.
And when we decide not to say anything at all, may we relish knowing that every soul has his or her own journey and the only one we’re in control of is our own.
Over to you:
Do you have any techniques that help you determine when to say what’s on your mind and when not to? What’s been your experience with surrendering your desire to change other people? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!
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