Monday’s Meditation: On Letting Your Loved Ones Make Mistakes

October 2, 2017

We are responsible for caring for each other.

We are responsible for telling the people in our lives who trust us the necessary truth as it regards their wellbeing.

If we perceive an obstacle in the path ahead, we may raise the alert. We may give our best advice.

We want to protect them, after all. We want to ensure their smooth sailing. We don’t want to see those we love suffer. We don’t want them to have their hearts broken. We don’t want them to struggle financially. We don’t want them to feel lonely or angry or lost.

But try as we like, we cannot ultimately prevent a person from doing what it is they’re determined to do.

Trouble is, sometimes the people we love seem determined to choose wrongly, to make mistakes, or to put themselves in harm’s way.

I’m not referring to patterns of self-abuse that in fact require interventions. I’m referring to people who are sound of mind and yet seem intent on making things harder for themselves.

When this is the case, our job is usually to step back and allow them to do so.

There are times when the very thing that’s needed is to choose wrongly, to make a mistake, and to act impulsively because that and only that is the way to learn essential life lessons.

The goal in life is not to come out unscathed. If you aren’t racking up some wounds along the way, you’re doing it wrong. Rather, it is to learn how to transform our hurt into healing.

Our job is to give those who rely on us the necessary truth, yes, but it is also to stand by and allow others to steer their own ship. And then, if and when shit does hit the fan, as we suspected it would, our job is not to say “I told you so,” but to say, “I’m sorry it hurts. I love you. I’m here with you.” This is the ultimate exercise in compassion.

We cannot pretend that we always know best. We cannot know how a moment of hardship might turn out to be the defining moment of growth and transformation.

We can’t save someone from his or her destiny, nor, when we think of it that way, would we want to.

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