When the people you love make decisions you don't like do you choose to be loving or would you rather be right?
You have high expectations of the people you care about. You know they are capable of doing well. You only want what's best for them right? Maybe you want what's best from them too.
That's a bit different. It's about what you get rather than what they get. Looking at it like that your motives might not seem so noble, and your partner, or your teenager, or your friend might be quick to point that out as a way of discounting your view.
Before you know it you're in a "you can't tell me what to do" scenario and you're starring as the bad guy. You're probably both focusing more on being right than on really discussing the issue and there is a yawning gap between you. Being right is a great way to create distance. Do you ever wonder what those conversations might be like if you open up about what you want?
You might say to your teenager "I really hope you'll go to University. It was a struggle for me to get there. I took years and had to do it part time. I want you to have the chance to enjoy it before you get tied down with kids and mortgages. I'm worried that you'll want to do it later, when I'm no longer in a position to help you financially."
Will it change what they do? Probably not. They'll make their own choices, complete with predicted mistakes and unexpected triumphs. It's not their job to live the life you wanted to have, or even the one you want to give them.
Will they be furious with you for interfering, for telling them what to do, and doubting their ability to competently manage their own life? Probably not. All you've done is tell them what you want, and what their decision means for you.
When you tell your own story and let people know how you feel, your motivations, your hopes and your good intentions are much more apparent. You're being open about what you hope to gain or avoid.
It becomes possible for someone to appreciate your concern even if they choose a path you don't favour. They don't have to defend themselves because you're not criticising them. They don't have to be attacking because you are being loving. They don't have to resist you, because you aren't trying to control them.
Concentrate on talking about you, your experience, your hopes and fears. You can't 'fix' someone else. You can ask about their thoughts and worries and dreams and get a much fuller picture of what they're doing.
You can choose to be loving and take good care of the relationship you share. That way if they ever do need advice or encouragement or support you'll be someone they want to turn to. Being loving won't make someone dance to your tune, but it will help to keep a connection between you.
If you would like help to choose being loving, contact Relationship Services on 0800 RELATE (0800 735 283) or telephone your local office which is listed in the telephone directory.
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