They Don’t Always Mean Well…..

Setting aside New Year’s resolutions that are physically health and nutrition related (admirable ones by the way), let me focus for a moment on stress-reducing resolutions. Most of our lives are bombarded with stress-inducing events, whether of our own or external origin. How one copes with stress is highly individual and notwithstanding the exaggerated expression, there are a bazillion articles, books, etc., that address this issue. I want to talk about just one of those in this post. “Don’t take it personally – he/she meant well”, or “He/she only has your best interest at heart”, or a similar statement. Uh huh. And that can be true. We can be on a path that isn’t necessarily good for us, be making poor decisions whether it’s something as mundane as trying a new hair color that really doesn’t work, or something like remaining in a dead-end, emotionally draining job because we don’t have the courage to take steps to change the situation. Those are the times when someone who genuinely cares should take a deep breath and venture hurting our feelings to offer good advice.

On the other hand, do you have friends and/or relatives who are so convinced that they know better than you what you need, what you should be, do? These are the people who breezily or perhaps passionately frequently start with the phrase, “I’m only telling you this for your own good…” Their rationale of course is that they mean well. Except that isn’t necessarily the case. There are people who are simply unable to refrain from meddling in other people’s lives. These same people are often control freaks, acknowledged or otherwise, and they can be breathtakingly oblivious as to how they come across. How do you deal with this? If you have one or more person in your life like this who causes you stress, then perhaps it is time to examine that relationship. If you can look at the person clearly (and you may need a third party to help you see it), and recognize that this is one of those individuals who simply likes to tell people what to do, then you can make a decision about that person. If this person needs to remain in your circle for whatever reason (and there can be complicated ones), then accept that as a fact, and allow their words to become “just noise”; that same kind of irritating noise that a buzzing mosquito makes. You may still need to “vent” about this person at times, and that’s okay. What I am talking about is no longer allowing their words to burrow into your mind where they can be like an emotional splinter. And yes, if you want to give a shot at trying to change one of these people, go for it, but I wouldn’t expend a great deal of emotional energy in doing so.




2 thoughts on “They Don’t Always Mean Well…..

  1. A few years ago I purged some toxic people from my life. Since I’d already been dreading being with them, letting them go felt pretty good. My thinking was since I had brought them into my life as “friends”, if they aren’t living up to that part of the bargain, why am I wasting valuable time on them when I felt worse for it.

    Of course, that is much more difficult to do with relatives. And these people know our buttons better than anyone else! Since I was forced to see certain people a couple times a year, I had to change my mindset, much as you suggested. Their constant put downs and one-ups became not only “noise” but also triggers for me to pity them how miserable their lives must be if this is the only thing that can make them feel better. It’s easy to be nice to someone when you consider it doing a favor for someone less fortunate.

    Thank you for closing with the reminder that we can’t change others!

    • My husband teases me about wanting “Mega Happy” endings and he has a point. The truth, as you have shared, is that there are some people in the world who don’t seem to want to be happy, and sometimes pulling away from them is indeed the best choice.

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