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I have to laugh whenever I read this slogan in my recovery support group. It gets me every time! Because it’s so difficult to keep my hands to myself. 🙂

Like most people I’m certain I have suggestions and ideas for how others can live a more fulfilling life. And when they don’t ask me for my pearl of wisdom I sometimes offer it anyway. Well, I used to do this. Not so much anymore–or if I catch myself adding my two cents (or more) I stop and remember that unless they ask for my input, I need to zip the lip!

Recently I visited with an old friend and she spent most of the time catching me up on her life, her woes, her grown kids’ mistakes, and her upset with her husband and his annoying habits. Whew! That was a lot to listen to. At the end of our time together she took my hand and looked me in the eye.

“It was so nice to be with you,” she said. “And I’m going to think about what you said. I really appreciate your advice.”

I did a double-take. I hadn’t said a word–couldn’t get a word in even if I’d wanted to. It was clear she needed someone to listen to her and so I did. But to her, my listening was good advice. 🙂

When I keep my hands off other people’s everything (unless asked) well I’m a good friend to myself and to others. How cool is that? Now to make it a habit! Well, that’s a story for another time.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business…” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

 

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Hands Off Other People’s Everything! — 13 Comments

  1. Oh, I find this so hard! When someone shares a problem with you and clearly doesn’t know where to turn or what to do, it FEELS cruel not to mention a book that you found very helpful for that problem, or share what a counselor once suggested to you to alleviate the situation. I get this panicky feeling like the other person is drowning, I have the life ring in my boat, but if they don’t ask me for it, I won’t toss it to them.

    I finally had to compromise and after listening, if I think I know something helpful, I ask if they prefer that I just listen, or would they like to know a book etc. that helped me in that situation. The answers are about half and half, and it has cured my own anxiety. 🙂

    • Hi Karen, I really enjoy all of your blogs- they are so honest, thought provoking and usually deal with things that I am struggling with. This is one of those areas that I struggle with a lot with my family (spouse and adult children) and some friendships. In my friendships , when I have a problem I welcome the advice of my spouse, friends and adult children. I have learned so much from listening to other people’s advice from great places to travel to and avoid, help with my relationships and today a lady at weight watchers gave me some great recipes and tips for my first weeks- I appreciate all of it. If it doesn’t fit for me I discard it. Unfortunately, I find other people are so busy telling everyone their problems and are not open to advice from others who have travelled the same road and are a little further in their journey- I call that “dumping” and I really don’t like it. I agree if you are dealing with a huge loss like the death of a loved one or something extremely traumatic, it is important for others to take time out to listen without giving advice. But if this is a regular need, you need to see a therapist, not a friend. The bible speaks of warning, rebuking and helping our friends and family. Our enemies will just listen and smile as we walk down a wrong road but a true friend will warn you and help you see the consequences that you might be blinded to. I grew up in a dysfunctional home where my parents were too addicted and broken to give me advice about anything- I felt unloved and uncared for as I had to learn so many things the hard way. So now that I am an adult I welcome advice and actually ask people, such as older couples for advice about marriage etc. This has helped me a lot. So it is very painful for me when my advice to family members especially is not received well or in the spirit that it should be-I’m only telling you this because I care and have your best interests at heart. This is a long comment but it’s a difficult area for me. I understand “zipping the lip” is necessary sometimes, but I don’t like watching train wrecks happen when people can’t accept advice. Prayer is also very necessary- sometimes the only way for those stubborn ones! Love, Angela

    • Angela, you said it even more clearly than I did. I wonder if the key is our background? I, too, grew up in a very dysfunctional and abusive home. I had no clue what was normal, and I’ll always be grateful to people (in real life or in books and Bible studies) who helped me figure it out. It took me a long time to distinguish between people like us who are eager for help and those who would rather have a train wreck and then blame someone for it.

    • I agree, Kristi, that it works best to ask if someone wants advice or help. Then if you share your experience you know it’s appreciated.

    • Thanks, Angela, for sharing your experience and the reminder to pray before offering advice.

  2. Karen, I’m with you. I’m finding it so much easier, less stressful, to be a listener and observer – and I smile a lot. Works for me. If what I say fails to make a difference, then why say it?

    Best wishes.

  3. It’s a precious gift to have someone really listen. Sometimes it seems like we find answers by just hearing ourselves talk. Thanks for that reminder, Karen. ❤️

  4. This is fantastic Karen! Ah! If only I too could be so aware all the time……. I do enjoy your insights and sharings SO much.
    Keep on keeping on my friend. Enjoy all that beauty of the National Parks you are stepping into!
    Big Hugs, Kathleen XO.

    • Thanks, Kathleen. I’m home now after a most sensational trip and you’re off to Africa to see all the beauty there. Be well.

  5. Way to go, Karen!! Made me feel a bit guilty HOWEVER, I have learned a lot during my lifetime, as to how important it is to really listen! Like the statement says: “Wisdom comes from listening” and that has been proven to me many times. It is so easy to express OUR opinions even when NOT asked but ah the wisdom I can gain by really listening and not just ‘hearing’!
    Thanks, Dear. I hope you are having a great time.
    Margaret

    • Thanks, Margaret. I hope you and Tanya and family are safe in FL. It’s been pretty horrific in your state. I watched the news while on the road.

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