One of the most important things I’ve come to realize is that the only power we actually have is over ourselves. By this I mean it is impossible to make anyone else do something that they don’t want to do or be something they aren’t willing to be. They have to consent as well. They have to be open and willing as well. And there isn’t anything that I can do to force this. With my nephews and my son it was easy to be open to their love. It was easy to trust that I wanted to love them and wanted them in my life. When it comes to other kinds of relationships, both friendships, but more importantly with intimate relationships it is a lot more difficult for me to be willing to be open. I’m not sure that it hasn’t gotten harder since learning that I can’t make someone love me. It simply has to be something that they choose and something that I have to trust. Although I also find it a little bit easier, as well, because I’m less confused about what needs to happen and what I want in order to make anything happen. And I think that knowledge is extremely beneficial.
But the aspect that has been on my mind lately is how difficult it can be to have to let go. We can’t force others to do well if they aren’t going to choose to. We can’t make our kids do well in school if they don’t want to. We can’t make them socialize with the people we would prefer, or date or marry who we would prefer. We can’t make the people we love have the life we think they should have. And letting go of what we want can be extremely difficult. We can’t live anyone’s life for them. We have to let people make mistakes. And watching that happen with no control over it is hard under any circumstance – parent, child, friend, significant other. So in the end all we can really control is ourselves. And letting go of that need to change the paths that others are on is something that we have to do for ourselves. It doesn’t mean we have to leave them alone, but in some cases that is what’s best. It doesn’t mean we can’t encourage them, or offer assistance. But we have to be willing to allow them to make their own decisions, because no one responds well to excessive pressure. The pot will always boil over in those cases. Excessive worrying is just as traumatic, only we are hurting ourselves. Looking at ourselves, understanding our role, learning how we can best approach the situation in a way that is beneficial for both people is the only way for anything worthwhile to emerge. We have to use the power that we have over ourselves in order to help others who we want to help. We can’t force others to do anything, but we can make the right choices for us.