I don’t find letting people make their own mistakes very easy, I have to admit it. I know, in theory, that we all have our own paths to travel and lessons to learn but when I see a ‘mistake’ about to happen I find it really difficult to sit back and let it! Even if I manage not to say anything I think my expression often gives me away. I notice people noticing the thoughts passing across my face. I then try very hard to control these involuntary tics often with limited success. Even if I manage to keep my thoughts to myself at the time and my companion isn’t a face reading genius I will often feel the need to get back to them later to re-dissect their plans.
Having decided not to say what I think I often find my initial concerns are borne out in the fullness of time. But what I have to remind myself is that my friend who, in my opinion, chose unwisely, has had a useful learning experience from their ‘bad choice’, which would not have been available to them if I had jumped in with my concerns. Indeed if I had intervened they may well have modified their behaviour, if they value my opinion at all, (what’s not to value?) and then wondered from here to eternity what might have happened if they had ignored me. Could I have been wrong? Of course I could be wrong.
It’s so difficult though. Sometimes it’s so clear to me that I can’t see why it isn’t clear to those around me. Of course just because I think something doesn’t make it right. Even I realise that, most of the time…….
But I do draw the line at the parent/child relationship. To a point. Of course we have to let our kids fail. Life won’t always offer them unmitigated success but there is failing and there is letting them make decisions that will have huge long-term effects that they don’t have the maturity to foresee. I met someone I knew slightly at a friend’s party a few weeks ago. This lady asked me how my son was enjoying his school. She told me her son was about to leave primary school and she had hoped he would choose the school my son attends as she felt it would suit her son much better than the alternatives. Her son, however, had chosen another school and she was very concerned. I must confess she got even more concerned as I enumerated the various positive aspects of my son’s school. However, she had chosen not to overrule his choice. I would have, but gently enough so he would think he had changed his own mind!
Have you seen that great quote?
‘When a woman says ‘what?’ it is not because she didn’t hear you. She is giving you a chance to change what you said.’
I think I do this. It’s a passive aggressive way of saying ‘You can not be serious?????’
I had lunch with a dear friend recently who told me of a new career path she was seriously thinking of embarking upon. I resisted the temptation to talk her out of what I considered a very unsuitable new role. Not sure how my face was doing though. Anyway, after we parted company that day I was still concerned so I texted her with a suggestion for trying out this new area as a volunteer before she made her mind up to embark on the training necessary, only to receive an immediate response that she had already decided it wasn’t the career for her after all. Could have been my face, but I think she realised once she had given it a bit more thought that her road lies elsewhere and I know it was great that she came to that decision without my input.
Of course it’s impossible for any of us to know how things will turn out for our friends and family and we need to exercise humility – or at least I do! If it all goes as pear shaped as we think it will then maybe a valuable lesson has been learnt by those involved. We can’t learn other people’s mistakes for them and we have no vision into the laws of karma that maybe govern their choices but that doesn’t stop my face from having an opinion!
At the end of the day we sometimes feel we must intervene with cautionary tales when we see our loved ones veering off course, as we might see it. I think its fine to have an opinion, especially if you are asked what you think, but we can’t always expect our counsel to taken. Painful though it can be to see people doing harm to themselves and to those around them it still holds true that ….
‘A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.’
I’m not a great one for having regrets or for ‘I told you so.’ We saw the crash coming, we saw the crash happen and now, in the aftermath, we are there to help clear up if that’s what’s needed.