The Lesson I'm Still Learning
It’s 2019 and every new year brings about an opportunity to tweak existing goals or create new ones that’ll move us towards a fuller life. If we sift through the “new year, new me” expectation that is often presented in media, we can more easily recognize that we have the power and means to make great change on our own at any point. The new year is not our only time to make a difference. However, since the connotation of making change with the new year exists, we might as well use it to our advantage and make that damn change! New Year resolutions and goals are a conversation within themselves. Today, I’m focusing on a lesson that will be helpful to hold onto while entering the new year. As my title says, it’s a lesson I’m still learning and trying to master because it’s that difficult.
If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know that a blend of personal and professional experiences lead to my posts. Whenever I notice I’m saying the same phrase or having similar thoughts both in and out of sessions, it tells me that whatever topic I’m repeating myself on is one that many of us struggle with and should discuss. This lesson is the result of that process and some serious self reflection while doing yoga the other week. Myself and the people I’m surrounded by are all super emotional (I guess that’s not particularly surprising for a therapist, ha). We have deep emotions, openly express them, and leave no room for others to have to guess what we’re thinking or feeling. On one hand, it’s nice because I’m use to being around emotional depth and vulnerability that helps me lead clients towards that. On the other hand, it makes me very impatient when I notice resistance to those deep and profound emotions. So impatient that I’ve cut off long term relationships when I felt like they were not being emotionally authentic with me or able to provide a space for me to continue expressing these emotions. My state of impatience fills with frustration and sadness. Frustration because I feel like this individual isn’t being “real” with me and sadness that we are socially taught to suppress and hide our emotions.
So how do I handle that impatience when I notice emotional resistance in others? Like I previously said, I’ve ended some relationships. The issue with discontinuing relationships is it sucks (to say the least) to lose people you love and I can’t do this with clients. The point of therapy is to meet clients where they’re at and move them to their next progressive state. In addition to this, the process of ending any relationship occurs after a lot of thought and dissonance that leads to me ultimately decide that the relationship probably won’t lead to emotional authenticity. Therefore, it’s better for me to end the bond rather than continue to damage it on both ends. It’s a tough process that I don’t wish on anyone.
During that process of reflecting and evaluating relationships, I always try to think about one particular lesson and I literally find myself mentally repeating “We can’t control other people.” It feels obvious, but it’s a very hard thing to accept when we feel that we know what’s best for those that we love. Yes, maybe what we’re thinking is what’s best and 100% correct, but we can’t control people. The only thing that we can control in every relationship and life is ourselves. Therefore, no matter how much we know that our friend shouldn’t drunk text their ex, no matter how much we know about why such-and-such’s dad gets so mad when he’s around that one person, no matter how much we know that one person likes us and should just reply to that one text message and say how they feel, and any other example that involves us being so confident that we know what someone else is thinking or feeling, we don’t actually know. We think we know. We’re speculating. The only person that we for sure know and have control over is ourselves. It’s unfair to ourselves and those around us to tell others what to do or have expectations of others because it stunts their self-growth journey and whittles away at what makes each of us an individual. Rather than being so sure and confident about what’s best, be there to be emotionally open and supportive when it’s needed. Be a good example of emotional vulnerability and remind yourself, “We can’t control others.”
As I said earlier, I’m still learning this lesson and it’s still active thought and effort of reminding myself that I don’t know what’s best for everyone and only have control over myself. This is a part of my own growth journey and I’ve accepted this challenge.
I hope this helps your relationships as we kick start this new year. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns about this post.
So much love and HAPPY NEW YEAR!