How often do you jump in to solve someone’s problem, offering to do more work than you feel comfortable with, plan something you don’t have time for, or otherwise commit yourself beyond what you really want to do?
In “What Other People Think of You” I addressed those of us who tend to want to fix everything, to help everyone, to jump in and “do” something to make a situation better.
“Often, our “doing” is our own way of not being present, because we’re not comfortable with someone else’s pain.” –What Other People Think of You
There is a big difference between acting out of love and acting out of fear, uncomfortable feelings, stress, obligation, annoyance, and frustration.
When you act out of love, your action feels effortless. Your face lights up with happiness. You feel light and free. You are honored to help rather than obligated.
When you act out of fear, you’re not present. You’re trying to prevent something from happening (or happening again). You want to control the outcome. You want to protect or prevent with an underlying urgency instead of giving with a sense of peace.
“When you know that the only thing that can make someone hurt is their own thoughts, you realize how silly and egoic it is to believe that you can make them happy. Even if they outright tell you, “I won’t be happy until you fix this!” you can know that it is only their story of being unhappy (and the silliness of putting that on you) that is making them suffer. Sometimes, they need to know that you’re not going to jump for their happiness, and what a blissful thing for them to learn when they see that they are in control, not you.” –What Other People Think of You
How to Stop Over-Doing
1. Notice when you’re jumping in with a solution instead of just listening. Just noticing your actions will empower you beyond measure. At first, you might still offer solutions. You might watch yourself offering something you don’t have time to offer, or trying to fix something that you really can’t. This is fine, just notice it.
By being the observer instead of reacting blindly, you have already made a huge shift between the “doer” and the more present, mindful you.
2. Notice the times when giving/solving/fixing felt good and lovely versus the times when it felt like an obligation or demand. Not every situation is cut and dry. We need to be present in every moment to respond in a way that’s perfect for us and for the ones we’re with. By noticing how you feel as a result of your decisions, you’ll create an incredible foundation of self-knowledge. You’ll soon learn more about yourself than you thought possible- and you’ll know which situations require you to be present, and which ones require you to fix, just by your feelings.
After an interaction, ask yourself if it felt good. Are you resentful you have an additional task, or delighted you were able to help? Be honest with yourself. Often we think we should be happy we helped, but in reality, we’re annoyed and overburdened.
3. Practice not doing. At first, not doing can seem uncomfortable. When we listen to our ego, we feel obligation is more important than our own needs. We feel justified in taking care of someone else at our own expense. We might even feel a little righteous and self-satisfied. This is all ego. See if you can sit with the uncomfortable feeling, yet extend pure love and presence toward the person you’re with.
If you stay present, your ego’s uncomfortableness disappears and you find the perfect joy of presence in it’s place.
4. Notice how not doing, not fixing, and just staying present empowers others. Often, we just want someone to listen while we figure it out. When you are that quiet presence for someone, you empower them mightily with your attention.
When you rush to fix it, sometimes you’re saying, “I don’t think you can handle this by yourself,” or “You might be capable, but it’s better if I help.”
If nothing else, when you don’t rush in to fix something, you enable the other person to actually ask for your help if they want it- and what they ask for might surprise you.
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