There’s such a thing as comfort in chaos. Many a time when you’re the one with answers, it feels like being the star of a masterful ballet: you’re amazingly capable and can solve things others cannot. Thank goodness for your guidance or their world would fall apart. When we’re focused on someone else’s problems and take them on as our own, it almost seems altruistic: we are concerned, loving and helpful. And we have the answers they need if they would just take the advice. When we are wrapped up in someone else’s problems, something big and dramatic, it creates a pain-killer for all the feelings we might have about ourselves that we would much rather avoid. Perhaps the next time your focus is stuck in drama or find yourself repeatedly trying to solve another’s problem, stop to think, “What’s going on with me?”
How are you feeling and what are you dealing with? Kind of tough subjects to bring up with others because, eh, it feels trivial and boring, nothing compared to what others are dealing with and like you’re complaining, right? Wrong. Everything you have going on is valid and important, in fact just as important as anyone else’s drama. You just have to start acknowledging that to yourself. When we become the lifesavers for others, it can take a lot of precedent over our own “normal” problems, and what that ends up doing is telling us that we don’t matter as much, a bad message to send to one of your best friends: you. You probably just rolled your eyes, but it’s true. Be a good friend to yourself first. Get comfortable talking about yourself, your experiences, your problems and pain, and honor their worth. Do not brush them aside. Through that confrontation, you’ll grow to better understand who you are and in turn, you’ll be better able to truly help those you love. You’ll also be able to auto-protect yourself from other people’s drama that is bad for your health. Remember that pamphlet on the airplane: you must always come first.
It can be hard not to call out a train wreck in slow motion. You’re the one with perspective and how can you just stand idly by? It’s painful to watch someone you care about in pain. The irony of solving another’s problems is that you are often doing the opposite of helping. When you fix things, you remove the opportunity for people to learn for themselves, and often the best lessons are taught by missteps. Sometimes you have to tumble far enough down before you gain a vantage point on your solution. Even when a person is repeating the same problems over and over, one day for no particular reason the answer will hit them like a bolt of lightening. They’ll just “get it” and there’s nothing you can do to make them see it any sooner. It’s a weird thing but you can’t really know something until you just know it. We all have to get there on our own path. If it’s too hard to watch someone repeat their mistakes or too hard to listen to them repeatedly mourn them, it’s okay to decide you no longer want to witness it. You are not a bad person for cutting off something that causes you harm. To self-preserve is to self-love. Remember the pamphlet…
At the end of the day, we will decide what we can tolerate and what is important to us on a case-by-case basis. If you are a person with love and support to give, that is wonderful and you should not alter yourself if you are happy as you are. I don’t mean to suggest that we should stop helping those we care about. But when it comes to an attraction to drama, an obsession that takes us away from our lives, there’s something else at play. Something inside you, not related to the drama queen. Perhaps the next time you catch yourself dwelling on another’s life, another’s bad relationship, another’s money problems, another’s repeated tumbles, take a moment to ask, “How am I?”
Happy Sunday, love to you all! xoxo Sarah