How do you let go of obsessing over other people’s choices? You know what I’m talking about: The colleague who consistently makes the same mistakes or just doesn’t get it, despite your trying to help. The friend who consistently goes back to the wrong guy, despite all the time you’ve spent talking her through heartbreak. The family member who can’t find their way to a safe, healthy, and independent place. Or, worse yet, ask for help when it’s clear, they need it.
It’s hard to watch people, especially those we love, stumble over and over again, when the answers to their “problems” or the actions they need to take seem as clear to us as the sun.
And yet, it’s not our jobs to decide what other people should be doing or judge them for doing things differently than we would (unless of course, it’s threatening their own or another person’s life, in which case if you see something, say something). Even though it can be hard, even excruciating—to bear witness to a person you love making the same “obvious” mistake over and over and over—you can only be helpful to a point. And then, you’ve got to know when it’s time to detach. From their actions, choices, and maybe even from the person themselves… at least for a time to regain your own sanity.
Because what they’re doing? Well, that’s their journey, and not yours.
In my TEDx talk, I say let go of what other people think. Now, I encourage you to do the converse as well: Let go of what you think of other people … and judgement. Because if you don’t, you risk the same outcome: Getting stuck.
Case in point: Last month, I met a dear friend’s new boyfriend and he wasn’t much better than the last several she’s had, none of whom deserved her and all of whom crushed her heart.
I was upset about it because I could see what she potentially couldn’t: Another bout of heartbreak in her future (although I do pray that I’m wrong). I was so distraught about it that I just couldn’t shake the feeling. I spun on it for several weeks, complaining to my husband on our daily morning walks about how crazy it was, expressing my frustration with my friend’s inability to be alone or see how her latest choice would ultimately come back to bite her.
I did this until I got tired of feeling badly and hearing my own voice talk about it so much. At which point I asked myself this: Why are you so obsessed with this, Jill? After all, it’s her life not yours. What do you want? And how will your worrying so much about your friend help you to get it? I realized that by focusing on her actions, I was diverting myself away from the very things I needed to do for my own life. The question was why. What did I need to escape from that had me in such dire need of distraction?
I realized, after several weeks of agonizing over someone else’s life choices, that I was really just trying to look away from my own.
And that’s when I reversed course. Decided to love and wish her well. Hoped that this new relationship brings her all the love and joy she deserves. Then, I took my power back by refocusing both my energy and my thoughts onto my own life—and the scary but exciting changes in front of me.
Which brings me to the point: We are mirrors for each other. If you’re spinning on someone else’s life choices, it’s probably because you’re struggling with some of your own.
And if that’s where you are, here’s my advice: Take a step back. Breathe. Think about the answers to the following questions or, better yet, crack open a journal (and a bottle of wine, coffee, etc.) and have at them:
- Why are you spinning so hard over someone else’s life?
- What do you want for yourself (by the way, this is the third step in my Letting Go Process, which I outline in my book coming out next Spring…I’ll be talking more about this process in future notes…)?
- How will getting stuck in someone else’s choices advance your cause?
- What’s going on in your own life that’s hard or complicated or scary—that you need to distract yourself from?
- How you can get yourself back on track?
When I asked myself these questions, I was almost instantly grounded back in what mattered most to me: Loving myself and moving forward in my own journey, towards the things I want most.
Remember, it’s not up to us to bless or even agree with the decisions of others. All that does is antagonize our adrenal glands and lead to belly fat (and lord knows, we don’t need more of that, well, I’ll speak for myself…). In order to let go of spinning like a hurling, twirling vortex on things that are, ultimately, none of your business and out of your control, regroup. Ask yourself what you want from life and then stay right there.
Be where YOUR feet are, and not somebody else’s. Trust me, it works!
Rooting for you!
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Watch Jill’s TEDxWilmington Talk: The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go
Learn more about Jill Sherer Murray: www.letgoforit.com
Jill Sherer Murray is an award-winning writer and speaker who studies relationships and self-growth. She is also the founder of Let Go For It®, a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping individuals let go for a better life. Jill’s TEDx talk as well as her advice column, Big Wild Love: Let Go For It® were created in service to her loyal and growing fan base, who seek support in the act and the art of letting go for the love they desire and deserve. Follow Jill @letgoforit on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.