Three years ago, I was meeting a buddy to ride our bikes across New Zealand. He brought me a gift of books (Courage to Change and One Day At A Time). The books contain many of the observations that I had learned from practical experience, as well as studied in Eastern philosophy.
My pal shared that when you’re in a relationship with an alcoholic there are a number of tendencies that you need to watch:
- a desire to protect the individual from the negative implications of their choices
- a desire to cure, or save, the individual from the outside
- mistaking excitement for the drama, and chaos, that surrounds an addict
Because addiction becomes so extreme, it is easier to see these tendencies in highly dysfunctional relationships. Easier to see but far from easy to fix.
The books got me thinking and I started to look for milder examples of these tendencies. In looking deeply, I realized that a desire to ‘fix’ the world runs strong in me.
Consider when you feel stress about another driver, your kids, a co-worker, a customer – often the source of the stress is either: a fear of what will happen if they don’t change; or conflict between what you want them to do and what they are actually doing.
Last week, I gave an example of how I counter this stress. I publicly acknowledged that it isn’t my place to save the dopers; that I don’t have capacity to change their world; that my time is better spent on my own mission; and they don’t need my help in any event.
I’m close to making the above thought process an automatic habit in all areas of my life. The reduction in stress is huge and well worth the effort required to change. If you are a parent then consider how much of your effort to ‘fix’ your kids is wasted. Far better to “be the brand.”
The change in attitude frees my mind to focus on accepting the people I love; teaching them when the opportunity presents itself; and letting them learn by experiencing the full impact of their choices.
The most effective way to influence others is to combine love with a good example.