You know how so many blogs or articles have headlines like “7 Things to Do Right Now to Live Longer” or “5 Things You Must Stop Eating Today” or any other flavor of Start Doing this Now or Else? They bug me. So, I decided I wanted to write something about what we don’t have to do. So here are three things that you don’t have to do. At all. Anymore. Ever. But hey, if you want to do ’em you can, because I’m not the boss of you!
- Cleaning up other people’s messes. One of the best things I learned in my recovery journey was to keep my side of the street clean. One day at a time, my job was to be responsible for my own stuff, to clean up after myself and not make any big new messes – literally and figuratively. The point is to stop worrying about other people and their messes, and to focus on the things I can actually control: what I do and think. This was a “best thing” for me because it was so freeing. I knew my scope, and I could manage it!
- Earning love by being needed. Being needed isn’t the same thing as being loved. Love isn’t something you can earn, anyway. You can earn trust and respect, but not love. Of course we need other people. And of course, we love to be needed (most times) because it lets us know that we are important in our community. All good things. But we can stop trying to earn love – because we can’t. We are born worthy of love. Full stop.
- Rescuing. Oh, this is hard, because we want to save people from what we see as dangerous, uncomfortable, or difficult situations. We’re compassionate, empathetic, caring people, so we want to protect the people we like and love. But lots of times when we rescue someone from a hard place, we are depriving them of the responsibility and satisfaction of growth. Plus, they’ll have to learn the lesson eventually, and we might be making it harder! Now, if someone is in real danger, of course we should rescue them. And of course, we should help people. There’s a difference between helping and rescuing, which isn’t as blurry as I first thought. You help people to do something for themselves. When you rescue, you take on the problems yourself and do it for them.
You probably noticed that all three of these things have to do with control. I probably could have titled this blog “Stop Trying to Control What You Can’t Control Anyway” but that was too long.
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
I have room for a couple of one-on-one clients right now. Send me an email if you’d like to talk: firstname.lastname@example.org