Inspiration of the Self-Reliance 30-Day Writing Challenge

To celebrate Ralph Waldo Emerson's 208th birthday (May 25th, 1803), Self-Reliance urges us to trust our intuition rather than conforming to the will of the majority.

Beginning on May 31st, 2011, The Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance website*** will post a daily prompt. This will continue for 30 days.

This is my unique creation of personal reflection and responses, based on those prompts.

***See link below for the site.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

You Know

DAY 21

"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world."   - Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

My perception of this prompt is slightly different than the question asked.  For me, this has prompted me to write about people who try to control others by dictating what they “should” do.  For example, “Jane should break up with Fred, because he’s not good for her”, or “George should buy a new car, because the one he drives now isn’t safe”, or “Sheila should lose weight, because she isn’t healthy”, or “Mickey should discipline his kids better, because they’re out of control”, or “Pamela should call her mother more often”, or ………….. well, you get the idea.

Why is it that some people really believe they know what’s best for someone else, better than that someone else knows for himself or herself?  I don’t think that people do this maliciously or even consciously.  Some people sincerely and honestly believe they know best, and are trying to prevent others from making mistakes.
I’ve wondered if those who are consistently trying to control others are avoiding their own issues.  Maybe if they spent more time and energy on their own life, they wouldn’t have time to control others.

I became aware of this about twenty, or so, years ago.  I won’t go into all the details or reason how it became apparent to me, but it had to do with my life and how others attempted to control what I was doing.  A brief explanation is that I was dating a much younger man.  This was before it was cool to be a cougar.    
Ever since then, I’ve developed this radar, which sends a loud signal to my brain, whenever I hear anyone attempting to manipulate the actions of others.  Depending on the situation, often I will speak out. 

Regardless of how a situation appears from the outside, we do not know for sure the exact scenario, where the other person is coming from or what they are feeling inside.  It is not our position to dictate what another should do or say.  We may feel that we know what’s best, but in reality, only the person whose life it is, actually knows for sure.
There’s a possibility we might be able to offer advice that could save another from making a mistake.  But, chances are, if they are deeply involved in a situation that we see only from the exterior, they are not going to follow our advice anyway.
We have good honest intentions in believing we are helping.  But, sometimes it’s necessary for each person to make their own blunders.  Isn’t this how we learn our life’s lessons?  So, the next time you get the urge to “help” another person by giving unwanted advice, think about how you might be preventing them from a life’s lesson to be learned.

On the other hand, if someone invites you to provide some guidance or an opinion about something, it would be acceptable to offer whatever assistance you can.  However, this should be done in a loving unconditional non-controlling manner.  And, understand that, although your advice was requested, it may not be followed.  And, that’s okay.  Sometimes someone just needs to hear some options or another’s idea.  That may give them the spirit they need, in order to confirm an action opposite to that which was offered to them.  Sometimes someone just needs to talk, but not necessarily be soliciting advice.
In any case, we each know what is best for ourselves.  Sometimes our perception may be cloudy or we are confused.  But, in the whole scheme of things, each of us knows our own heart and soul best.
By allowing others the self-confidence to arrive at their own choices, make their own mistakes, and learn, we are being the best friend or acquaintance we can be.
If/when someone asks me for suggestions or advice, I preface my answer with the following:
“This is what I would do, if it was me in this situation.  However, what’s best for me may not be what’s best for you.  So look deep within yourself to find your answers.  It will not offend me, if you choose to do something differently than I would.”

There isn’t always a “right” or “wrong” answer.
          It’s just not that simple.

No comments:

Post a Comment