“Hell is other people” once quipped philosopher Jean Paul Sartre and some of us might like to high five this right-on hipster and cry “Hell? Yeah! You’ve met my family then!?”
If you have someone in your circle, familial or social, who makes the idea of slamming your foot in the car door a less painful experience than spending time with them, then pull up a skinny latte, loosen your tie and get down with those who know.
It was when I once said to my coach, “If only I could find the right words, put them in the right order to get through to him so he could see sense.” That it occurred to me I’d be better off trying to find the secret of the universe via a diet of scotch bonnet chilli smoothies.
Do you know people like this? Those who are reckless and don’t take responsibility for their health and finances? Who seem to be life passengers who expect you to be in the driving seat? Do you know someone who drains, blames and seems to find the negativity in a sunbeam (“it’s too hot”) and flowers (“it will die anyway”).
Do you find yourself hurting yourself helping an under achiever who takes sloth and excuses to new lows? Are you frustrated with being on-call protector and rescuer to someone else’s poor decisions or dangerous behaviour?
Is bailing out financially and emotionally a loved one’s latest dip sinking rather than floating your boat? Then either train to be a coach or shrink and invoice them – or just stop.
Sometimes it’s a lifetime habit if you have grown up with that person whose neediness has become like oxygen it’s so natural and prevalent you have never questioned it. You have naturally bent with the call of duty and shouldered the load as though it was your natural path in life.
Hear this – it isn’t.
Hurting You Is Not Helping Them
So here is a small guide to relinquishing the responsibility for other people’s issues while keeping calm and caring for them and your own needs.
- Truly “get” that everyone’s health, wealth and happiness is 100% their responsibility. Not yours. Feels good already, doesn’t it?
- Learn to see your needs and feelings as important. It’s not OK for people to take up your time and leave you depleted and anxious whenever they want
- Create strong boundaries with others. The stronger the boundary the more respect they will show you.
- Be clear with others how much time and energy you are prepared to give. “I will pop by for 20 minutes”.
- Limit your time with them and learn to unhook from needy, controlling or manipulative behaviour.
- Up your standards. Decide not to tolerate bad/abusive behaviour. “I’m not talking to you when you are drunk”/”I wont be lending you any more money”/“I have other things to do and can’t help you right now”.
- Stop taking up the role of “rescuer” and understand you have more to offer than as a nursemaid or “shoulder” – you don’t have to give extreme self sacrifice to get love, be needed or show love.
- Let other people make their own mistakes. Remove yourself.
- Helping until it hurts leads to burn out and resentment.
- Unhooking doesn’t equal uncaring. Know the difference and you will be free.