Well-intentioned people can cause damage. I know this because I am one of them, a well-meaning damage causer.
I believe in helping people along by teaching them lessons. Regrettably, this self-righteous way of thinking led me to drop someone off outside, on the coldest day of the year, so they could walk to work and think about the importance of planning ahead. (Why did I think that was okay?!?) There is plenty of background to this story, but at the end of the day, I wanted the person to make better decisions, so I chose “teaching them a lesson” over being helpful in a time of need. :Remorsefully sighs:
There are plenty of layers to unpack here, but I’m going to focus on my obsession with controlling outcomes and others. I’ve had a need to control things as long as I can remember. I led our childhood crews, organized events, and bossed around siblings and cousins. I also used to stress about how people lived their lives, who they dated, and what decisions they made. To be honest, there is nothing wrong with caring about people in this way; there is something wrong with trying to control it.
Life and people cannot be controlled.
Two years ago my therapist gave me a book titled Codependent No More. I had no idea what a codependent was when she assigned it, but the subtitle says “How to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself.” That surely hit home. I expend too much energy trying to shape the lives of others, which consequentially takes the energy, priority, and focus off my own world of problems.
The book defines codependent as a person “who has let another person’s behavior affect them, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.” For decades, I’ve let the thoughts, actions, and patterns of everyone impact my peace instead of shifting my focus to me (the one thing I can control). I learned to overextend myself in an attempt to manage everything around me.
I was unaware of this aspect of myself, but I’m now in a place of acceptance. The beautiful fact about life is that once you accept something, you have the power to address it. I don’t have to allow the actions of others to impact me internally and I know from experience that life is a lot more peaceful when I establish a boundary.
As we move into the final month of 2018, I'll be more intentional about shedding this habit. I’ve grown so much in this area, but in light of recent events, it’s clear I still have more work to do. This is a reminder to myself: life and people cannot be controlled.
We can only manage ourselves. My one job on this earth is to operate in purpose and reflect the love of God while doing it. Life is that simple. Anything that complicates life more than that, needs to go. Take a deep breath, and let it go.