August 19, 2012

Hands Off

When someone we love is in trouble, we may try to control or at least curb the trouble-causing behavior. With the sincerest wish for their welfare, we throw out their liquor or hide the doughnuts when we see them coming. Our justification is that "we're only trying to help," and well might that be. But we enter a gray area when we try to manipulate reality on someone else's behalf.

Of course, we care about our loved ones and feel genuine concern when we see them heading for a fall. But caring and caretaking aren't the same thing. For our own emotional well-being, "hands off" other adults' lives is usually the best policy.

More often than not people are doing what they choose to do. We can influence, but they choose. Better than rearranging the environment, we can offer loving advice and then let the subject drop. Our loved ones will do what they want to do anyway. If their unwise choices finally bring them down, we can be there for them. At least we won't have ruined the relationship by nagging and manipulation.

The calisthenics for self-esteem do not include manipulation. 

Whatever needs to be maintained through force is doomed. 
~Henry Miller


  1. This post brings to me of a couple of situations. Someone that needs us to just lend a listening ear, and the other is quite opposite from it, which is someone who loves to be dependent. In this case the person who is the caregiver- who rather be the hands-off, is tortured emotionally. Back to your subject here today...sometimes it is best to care at a safe distant and let them come to us. It is the hardest thing to do when you love and want what is best for them.

  2. Where is the like button? I totally agree with you! :]


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