When you were an infant and toddler, your parents did everything for you. And unconsciously and lovingly, you accepted every gesture. But around the ages of two and three, you became more conscious of choices and freedom, and developed your ego. Once you learned that you had choices and control over how your life played out, saying "no" to other people became part of your life experience.
You don't say "no" because their help isn't beneficial; you say "no" because you want to control how you experience your life.
One day, I was in a playground with my three-year-old niece, and she wanted to go on the slide. I offered a hand to help her up the ladder, and she abruptly said, "No. I can do it by myself." There wasn't any hesitation in honoring her request. I was proud that she flexed on me and realized she had contorl over her life.
If she's conscious enough to say "no", then I have a responsibility to honor her demand. If I forced my help onto her, it might've set the condition that boundaries don't exist and that her "no" doesn't have any value. Every "no" has value, regardless of someone's age.
Like most young children, my niece wanted to explore, learn, try, fail, and unravel life. I'm sure she appreciated my gesture to help, but she also knew if she fell or if the situation became too much, I'd be there to support and comfort her.
Doing For Self and Others
Doing for yourself should become a consistent standard for the rest of your life. But you also need to remember to honor other people's request in doing for themselves.
Like everyone else, you want to explore and unravel life as freely as you can without being controlled or judged. Although you have the freedom to make your choices, you also know that friends, family, and even strangers are willing to support and offer an extra hand. But at times, the support crosses over into imposing on choices and freedoms. And one of the many human flaws is we don't honor the golden rule of treating people how we want to be treated.
Love, joy, sadness, loneliness, and pain in life is meant for you to own and experience. And no one should be held back, criticized, or feel like they're being judged for making choices that allow them to experiences the different levels of these emotions and experiences.
No One Wants Your Help
The truth is, unless you're asked, no one wants your help, opinion, advice, perspective, or thoughts—just like you don't want theirs.
And what you forget at times is that imposing your needs and negating someone else's request takes away from their freedom.
You want to live independently. You want the freedom to make choices that you hope are beneficial. But you also understand that your choices can lead to mistakes and regret. You also know that part of this life experience is making mistakes and learning to deal with them. And everytime sometimes forces advice or an opinion down your throat, it makes you uncomfortable.
Choices that everyone makes throughout life include:
- Who to love/date
- Where to work
- What to wear
- How to style their hair
- What to watch
- What to support
- Where to live
- What to eat
- Where to go
Imagine if someone chimed in every time you wanted to make one of those choices. Wouldn't you feel like your life and freedom were being imposed on? Don't you impose on other people by judging their choices or inserting your opinion when no one asked? And don't you get upset and annoyed when they do it to you? You don't hate them, but don't you get annoyed when someone starts telling you what you should do when all you wanted to do was vent?
At times, we assume that we're smarter than other people when they come to us with a problem. Your ego tells you, "They're coming to me because they can't figure this out on their own."
But sometimes people want to have a light conversation and you misunderstand the interaction because your ego exists in the past, present, and future. But all you need to do is be present with that person. Every conversation about life's issues isn't a cry for help.
My vs. You
When someone stops talking, "Did you want my take on things?" vs. "You should...," goes a long way. Ask more questions and talk less. Most of the time, people know what they want in life. When they approach a friend, it's probably just to confirm or deny their beliefs. But, the way you approach it should also be supporting them and guiding them into revealing what they may already know and feel. This guarantees that they they're responsible for their choices.
No one wants your help. They want your support in what they need at the moment: an ear, a nod of approval, a shared bottle of wine over snacks, or a long hearty laugh to escape for a bit.
Less about you; more about them.
P.S.: Learn what kind of person you are and let people know. I'm not the right person to vent to because I'm solution-based. If you tell me there's a problem, my thoughts innately go to finding solutions. Venting feels like small talk, and I'm not interested in small talk or talking just to talk. Learning who you are helps build better bonds.