Note: I dislike Coldplay so I’m not actually making a reference to their song “Fix You”, but it’s too popular to ignore the connection.
As we plow ahead into the new year, full of vibrant ideas of resolve and willpower and self-improvement, I offer these words of caution…as I sit here eating chocolate covered pretzels for a morning snack.
Do you ever let someone else’s opinions sort of run you? I don’t mean you go from athlete to couch potato, or movie savant to historical-trivia savant, but if someone tells you that you’re funny, do you lean into it a bit more? Or when you join a fantasy football league because someone suggested it — even though you didn’t care at all before.
Or if you’re like me, you make small changes to your diet to please your friends, wholly resent that you modified yourself for them, and then binge in the opposite direction. Do you ever let someone try to fix you?
Mostly suggestions and nudges from people we like and respect aren’t going to be harmful for us, and may even be really good for us (think of all the new friends you made in your fantasy football league), but there will always be people out there intent on fixing you.
We all tend to think that our opinions and beliefs about others don’t really impact them as much as we think. We believe we had a glancing influence — and always for the best. But what happens when people take what we say to heart? And begin to act not according to who they are, but how we would prefer them to be? How do we keep from transforming our friends into our reluctant image?
On the other side, there’s a permanent tug of war we’re all engaged in between “I’m happy with who I am” and “I could be better”. Where’s that fine line for a friend or family member to walk that doesn’t push and doesn’t pull, but doesn’t stagnate? To be honest with you, I’ve discovered it’s partly my job to help people find that line.
If you’re a pushy, opinionated friend like I am — one who speaks confidently their opinions and asserts pseudo-facts as genuine wisdom, check yourself. Take some of that wisdom and reason and look around you to the people you’re “helping” and discover if you’re helping them or yourself.
If you’re the impressionable, easily swayed, “I’d do anything for my loved ones” type, recognize that inherent danger and make friends with prudence first. Give yourself time to evaluate the advice and its source and act accordingly. Don’t let their personality overwhelm yours, and hold your ground firmly. If they’re the right kind of friends, and the supportive kind of family, they’ll honor that.
It took me years to discover it’s okay that I like to be on my own. And it’s also okay that almost no one I’m related to understands this. I think my Mom’s reaction to my decision to live on my own without a roommate was, “won’t you get lonely?”
This is the right way to handle your doubts about a loved one. Ask a question. In this case, my Mom’s questions said more about her own concerns in living alone than mine. It meant I could address her fear without her giving that fear directly to me. After all, she could have simply said, “I think it’s a bad idea. You’re sure to get lonely.” It’s that kind of confidence which makes you question your own thought-out decisions.
Make your resolutions, make your changes, but make wise decisions not for others but for a better you.