Has this ever happened to you? You give a loved one some advice on their life. You try hard to not make it sound like a criticism. After all, you don’t mean to hurt any feelings. But as soon as you’ve spoken, you see the expression of horror on their face that confirms your worst fear– they feel hurt and betrayed. And now they hate you.
I know, I know… how unfair! You mean well. You only speak up because you love them and want a safe, happy life for them. Why do they have to be so sensitive and… yikes… so damn ungrateful?
But Before you get worked up about how they abused your good intention, how about looking at things from their perspective for a second? Imagine you are that spouse, child, friend who just snapped at you. Life hasn’t been an easy ride. But you’re trying your best. You want to have faith in yourself. You try to be on top of things. You’re learning to stand firmly in who you are. But now, some moron whom you happen to love is telling you that you’re doing it all wrong. She says she’s worried about you, which you know simply means that she doesn’t trust you can handle your own life. Now you feel like half the air is taken out of your fledgling confidence. Gosh, if people have to be such a downer, why can’t they just shut up?!
Now you’re thinking: Fine! But if they listen to my advice, they’d be so much better off! Ok, suppose you’re the wise one. And suppose if they do what you suggested, they’d get what they want faster. But so what? Life is not about getting to a destination as quickly as possible. Nobody’s going to award you a gold metal at Heaven’s door because you manage to get there faster than anyone else. Life is about growth. It’s the things we learn by making so-called “mistakes” and the things we discover about ourselves along the way that make life rewarding. If your loved one had done “the right thing” just because you told them to, it would have been an act of ideology instead of true wisdom. It could have deprived them of a precious opportunity for growth. If you’re anything like me, I assume you’re not a board-certified psychic and can’t foresee the future perfectly. You don’t know if what looks like a detour or failure right now may just be the fastest route for the growth of the soul. (In fact, when in doubt, it’s safe to bet it is.) It’s a good idea to not get too hung up on who’s right and who’s wrong, and be humble about your own opinion.
But if you feel strongly that it’s an absolute must to give your loved one your two cents on their life, no problem. Go ahead. But before you do, here are 3 things to remember:
1. Check your own motivation.
Is your loving intention mingled with fear, anxiety or judgment? Are there strong emotions attached to your view? If so, it’s worthwhile to inquire within and find out why. If there’s judgment, know that all judgments are self-judgments in the end. What is it in your judgment about your loved one that reflects things you don’t like about yourself? If there’s anxiety and worries, it could be related to your own past experience that you haven’t been able to let go. Wherever those emotions come from, they will affect your loved one much more than the words you speak. And needless to say, instead of helping the person, their value-added to him/her is below zero.
2. Remind them of your unconditional love.
Before you speak up, tell your loved one that you’ll love and support them as always, no matter whether they take your advice or not. And remind them again of this essential truth after you spill out the unpalatable part. This helps them see where you’re coming from, and not get caught up in the implied criticism. More importantly, it helps you to see the big picture, and guard yourself against judgment and frustration.
3. Know that all is well no matter what their reaction is.
Even if you feel like you’ve tried your best, there’s no guarantee that your words will be well received. Your loved one may appreciate your caring, or they may feel so hurt to the point that they never want to see you again. Their reaction is not within your control. And don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as you expected. Any outcome, including those perceived as “negative”, has its own blessing. Even if your loved one walked out on you, it could be a manifesto of them finally claiming their own power, which is actually worth celebrating (though I know you probably wouldn’t be in the mood for it). In any case, know that the ultimate purpose of any relationship is for the growth of you both. Sometimes that purpose is best achieved through a disruption–or even disintegration– of the relationship. No matter how yucky it feels, it’s nobody’s fault. In the end, all is well.
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This week on Natasha’s Channel, I talk about how to advise your loved one without having it backfire.
(Watch it on YouTube)