I have a close relation—very close. Let’s call her miserable, I mean Miss E. Rable. For a period of time before I received THE BEST ADVICE ON THE PLANET, Miss E. Rable frequently visited her misery on me. I can just hear Dr. Phil now, “We teach people how to treat us.” These days I get that, but before I received THE BEST ADVICE ON THE PLANET, I didn’t understand that I had any way to stop Miss E. from making her frequent visits and otherwise ruining my day.
Do you have people like this in your life?
Miss Rable is the type who constantly turns to you for advice, but doesn’t actually want your help. All she really wants is someone to listen to her complain—the “misery loves company” type. You know the ones I mean, they can be male or female and every time caller ID shows up with their number, you cringe or secretly pretend you can’t find the phone. Don’t deny it, I know I’m not the only one who has these callers on the line. I’m talking about the person whose voice sounds like fingernails on the chalkboard in your otherwise quiet and peaceful life. And to make matters worse, on those rare occasions when they do actually ask for your advice…they listen only briefly, before butting in to tell you six ways from Sunday how your approach just won’t work. This sort of scenario used to drive me NUTS!
Then one day a wise advisor (okay, she was my coach) gave me THE BEST ADVICE ON THE PLANET. She said “When this person, begins her diatribe about how miserable her life is and cries, ‘Whatever shall I do?’ instead of wringing your hands along with her, just say to yourself, ‘Her baby is crying.’” At the time having just had a baby myself, this was an easy concept to grasp. For as a new mother, I wouldn’t have considered handing my precious baby off for someone else to care for. And that was just the point. Miss E.’s latest tale of whoa was just that…her baby/problem and she needed to tend to it herself.
What an epiphany for me!
All of the sudden I realized that I was no longer responsible for making everything okay for Miss E. Rable and by having this clear thought in my head, “Her baby is crying.” I could walk away in peace, giving my relative time and space to care for her baby as only she knew best how to do. Mind you, I didn’t actually get up and walk away from said close relation, but rather I did a mental dash right back into my own business and out of the role of being her savior.
This trick also works when you encounter folks who repeatedly like to make you the responsible party for all things wrong in their life. Maybe for you it’s also a relative, or a co-worker, one of your children, or maybe even your spouse/partner (heaven forbid!) The same internal dialogue works perfectly.
Your precious child says, “You didn’t wake me up in time, that’s why I’m late.” His baby’s crying.
Your sister complains, “It’s not fair, you’ve always been Mom and Dad’s favorite.” Her baby’s crying.
Your co-worker huffs, “Well, if I wasn’t the only one who worked in this place”…say it with me now, “His baby’s crying.”
Try it the next time someone is complaining to you for the one hundredth time, but refuses to actually make any changes in their own behavior. Don’t get me wrong, obviously there are many times when our friends and loved ones really do need our comfort and care and a shoulder to cry on. That’s not the situation to which I refer. I’m talking about someone who, like I said earlier, complains and complains with no intention of doing anything to change their circumstances or better yet change their thoughts that created the circumstances in the first place. It’s perfectly fine if they want to keep creating the same misery over and over again in their own life, it is after all their life; but I was making myself miserable right along with her.
I’d be driving along in my car on my way to the grocery store and thinking about poor little Miss Rable…what to do, what to do to help her? Get out of her business, I say to myself now.
As Byron Katie likes to say, there are 3 kinds of business: mine, yours and God’s. After receiving THE BEST ADVICE ON THE PLANET and realizing that my relative’s “baby” crying did not have to create a crisis in my life, I firmly stepped out of her business and planted my feet squarely back in my own, exactly where I belong.
And the funny thing is, when I stopped trying to handle her “baby” for her, Miss E. Rable had no choice but to learn to handle her “baby” herself or find another babysitter, like the old me to hand it off to. But either way, I was free. Free to think about my own baby–both the literal one I’d just birthed and the many figurative ones still left crying in my own head.
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