Sometimes we assume everyone wants to be well or wants what is clearly obvious to us, meaning better health gained through optimum nutrition and routine physical fitness. Not so. It is a gift to ourselves and others to Let Go and simply 'allow' our friends, spouses, offspring, parents and siblings to live their lives out according to how they choose to. Let them be!
This "problem" is very common among health enthusiasts. It has to do with human relationships, control issues and unrealistic demands and expectations. In some ways it's very similar to "bible thumping". New converts are typically excited about what they've discovered and want to share their treasure with the entire world. Sound familiar?
Unsolicited advice on health and nutrition is neither friendly nor gracious. Its very similar to telephone marketers calling at dinner time or the uninvited salespeople who shows up at your door. No one likes to have their space invaded and who really likes unwanted solicitation?
If I want advice I'll ask for it and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's being pestered. Just ask any smoker!
Essentially this overzealous behavior of trying to force our health and fitness ideals on our friends and family without invitation is a much bigger problem than what meets the eye. It's really a matter of fear and control. Specifically, fear of death, as in others and our own, the need to be right and the need to have control over someone else's destiny. The real question is why?
My personal strategy is to LET GO. I mean really LET GO. No nagging. No pestering. No passive/aggressive statements. I don't even think the thoughts secretly and that's where the genuine true freedom lies. I just accept what is, focus on my own life, laugh and love, and completely accept that everyone's health and lifestyle is actually none of my business (except when it directly affects me, as in gets in my way of achieving and maintaining my own health). This includes friends and especially family members.
Who are we to infringe ourselves or our values on other people (even if they are verified by science or proven out by our experience)? Is that what we want from others? No way. Everyone is entitled to live their life out as they choose, because LIFE and the way WE decide to live it is a choice.
Humans to a large degree by nature want to control everyone and everything. Some more…some less. Selfless behavior is a myth. Ultimately we do everything for ourselves, but few will admit that. So we think "I don't want my friend or loved one to suffer or die". Is that a bad thing? Of course not. But how we go about assisting is the main point here.
How can you protect an adult from themselves? You can't. How can you make a person understand what you know? You can't. After the age of accountability, people can learn only what they choose to learn. The desire must belong to them. They can take advice only from those from whom THEY ASK and the asking must come from a genuine and humble heart. You can't make them 'get it', so why try. That's a losing proposition.
Do you think pestering someone to quit smoking, lose weight, stop eating junk food or get to the gym actually motivates them to do it? If you do you're dead WRONG! It does nothing except create resentment, animosity and distance in human relationships. Is that what you want?
The best you can do is live, love and guide by example. Be what you want to see in the world. Put all of your heart and soul into yourself. Make yourself the single greatest health project in the world. Become so healthy, lean and strong that everyone around you is utterly amazed and more importantly, curious about what you do. Voila! Now you've got their attention.
Of course no one wants to 'lose' someone they love or care deeply about, but the truth is, we never “had” that person in the first place. We don't own people like property. And we certainly don't have control over anyone's absolute destiny (including our own). Yes we can influence some people, but the process of life and death and all of the variables involved, even with just one life, are much, much bigger than what we can possibly comprehend. So don't even try.
The pain we feel watching friends and family destroy themselves with intention or by neglect can be relieved 100% by simply accepting the FACT that except for infants and small children under our direct care, we are simply not responsible for anyone else's life or health.
Did someone appoint you to be the Savior of the World? No. The world can't be saved anyway. Even if we were delusional enough to believe this (as some are) we would still fail because a strong man cannot make a weak man strong. Most of us can barely take care of ourselves.
Everyone lives and dies on their own, by themselves, in the world they create and live in. What we wish for others is seldom what others wish for themselves, but of course we are human, and therefore desire everything to be exactly how we want things and people to be.
We can certainly teach those who WANT to learn, but we can't make them do the work. I mean the action required and what must be done consistently. Once that's clear then it's easy to LET GO. Why waste time fighting a battle you can't win? That's like standing up against a giant wave. Why even go to battle? Peace is where it's at.
Resistance is futile. It only creates more pain, damage and frustration. Learn to accept those you love for who they are and respect their FREEDOM, even when that freedom relates to self-abuse, addiction and self-destruction. Let the student come to you first.
I am no one's keeper. Are you? But like most health conscious individuals I would leap tall buildings to help a needy soul, even risk my life if necessary, but you can't help anyone who rejects assistance or who has zero interest. LET GO.
So I continue to accept and honor those I love in spite of what I see. I don't say a word. I know in my heart that life is difficult and tough to accept, and that everyone alive has more or less the same challenge and difficulty accepting this great truth.
When I see neglect or self-abuse in those I care about I wonder why? Why won't they stop? I observe what 'is', process everything as objectively as possible, take mental notes, then take the appropriate action required FOR ME to achieve the opposite effect. Their behavior actually motivates me to live better harder. I don't want to save the world. I just want to stay well and live free. So I live for that end and do the WORK that's required. It's called selfish benevolence.
I want to live and love as long as I possibly can, and if I outlive those who I love because of the choices I make, and the choices they make, which I already have, can I live with that? Can I live with what 'is'? Can I accept with serenity that which I have no control over? Yes I can.
My 53 years of life experience advice? Don't waste time. Life and moments spent with the ones we truly love and respect are precious. Be there but don't be square. LET GO of the need to control others. True mastery is control of self.
As always, stay well and live free! Dr.C