Oh, the experiences of life. We have all had experiences up to this point, some good, some bad, but all worthwhile and bringing us valuable knowledge and lessons. So, why not pass on that knowledge, those lessons, to those that we love and care about? After all, if it worked for us, shouldn’t it work for someone else?
This used to be, and still is although I try to resist, the way that I would interact with those around me; or, as I have come to discover about myself, it was a subtle and not so subtle way to control. Wow, I can’t believe I just said that. But, it is truth. And, the truth hurts sometimes.
I have been a social worker, counselor, therapist for my whole professional career. That is a sum total of 24 years now. In that role, I get paid to help people find out what they need to do differently to change their lives. I get paid, and I enjoy the work, of helping others to solve their problems, brainstorm solutions, give suggestions. Even though it is something that I get paid to do, I enjoy doing it because I enjoy helping others, respecting others in the times when friends are hard to come by. I didn’t feel like a social worker in my personal life, but I was.
My friends are so important to me, my partner is struggling so badly, if I just gave them the answer that worked for me, then they will feel better, be happier, feel more in balance. Right? Wrong, wrong and wrong. What a very hard lesson for me to learn. Because, by my putting upon my loved ones what I thought they should do, I was controlling; I was dictating; I was taking away their freedom to have their own process, to tend to their own garden, so to speak.
Sure, it is okay to want to weed someone else’s plot for them; it is admirable to bring seeds that you have had success with; it is appreciated when you have some extra manure you want to share. Problem is, too much shit is a bad thing. Too much giving of what you think will work the best leaves the other person powerless, helpless, and less confident in their own abilities. And, I have to admit, again, I cannot believe that I am doing so, that it can be great for the ego when something that worked for me, works for someone else. God, I hate admitting that, but it is true.
So, I have made a career now of tending to my own garden, and encouraging those that I know, those that I care about, to do the same. How am I doing this?
Well, I am doing it on the job, by not fixing everyone, but rather, showing them where they can find the tools to fix themselves. I am not their moms- I am a guide, a person just pointing them in the right direction. What a great feeling of satisfaction my clients have when I empower them to do it for themselves; I don’t want them to be thanking me anymore, I want them to be grateful to their own self-will.
With those closest to me, I am biting my tongue (literally, sometimes- that hurts!), I am pausing a lot in conversation, when I would previously have given a laundry list of ideas, and letting the other person finish telling their story, or until they have more than a moment’s breath for them to figure out what comes next. Tend to their own garden. Grow their own beauty. Mind their own patch of earth and sky.
As I write that, it reminds me of another thought. If we all just told each other how to do things, how to make things right, how to be happy and blessed, we would have a monochromatic version of my favorite fleece blanket. It would keep me warm, but it wouldn’t be much to look at. However, if I point people in the right direction, empower them to find their own way, their own answers, their own destiny, and we each take care of our own garden, our own patch of earth, what a beautiful mosaic of quilted beauty that would be. That will be. That should be.
I am learning, forever learning, and forever grateful for the learning………..