It can be difficult watching someone behave in a way that is, in your opinion, wrong.
The impulse is to explain to them that they have other choices and to let them know what those choices are.
"I don't think you should be..."
"You can't possibly think that was the right thing to do, can you?"
"Didn't you consider...."
"If I were you......"
And when you (lovingly) talk about them with others: "I can't believe they...."
"If that was me, there's no way I would have..." "How do I explain to them that...." "What were they thinking?! Can't they see how....."
But, and this is hard to hear and accept, it's none of our business.
It may feel like it is, but it just isn't.
It feels like it is our business because we see our advice as helpful, like we are doing them a favour.
We see our advice as correcting a behaviour that we see as wrong.
We are forgetting that all human beings need to learn whatever it is that they need to learn, at their own pace.
It is not your job to decide what and when that lesson occurs.
We forget about the bigger picture, that whatever is going on right now may be necessary for whatever is going to happen in the future.
It just may be a step in the right direction for this person.
It is most likely a huge and important opportunity for growth.
We also forget that we don't know that person FULLY.
We don't know their inner dialogue: how their past experiences affect their behaviours in the present, what demons they struggle with, how vocal their own inner critic is.
We also forget that we see them through our own inner dialogue and, of course, that is going to be different from theirs.
How they see themselves is totally different from how we see them.
How their family members and friends see them is totally different, too.
There are as many versions of us out there as there are people we are in contact with!
One is no more right or wrong than the other...just different.
(Of course, I am talking about adults here, children's behavioural development is a different story. Although the principal concept of learning at their own pace applies, too!)
Fight that urge to let your opinion be known.
It's none of your business!
I know. You want to help.
But the truth is, all you are doing is saying: "I am right and you are wrong."
If your advice is asked for, then yes - speak up.
Speak gently and with support, not judgement or (sorry) self-righteousness.
Let the person know that you are there for them no matter what.
That is worth a thousand times more than telling them they are behaving "wrong".
The next time you hear yourself thinking:
"Wow, I would never do it that way" or "What are they thinking acting like that/saying that/doing that/buying that/wearing that/eating that" or "I need to tell them not to before they embarrass themselves further/make another mistake", stop for a second and say "You go be you and I will go be me. I am here if you need me."
Even if the thought is with good intention and care.
IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
They need to go forth and do this life thing at their own pace and in their own way.
Look at it as a positive growth opportunity for you, too!
This is you releasing a (well intentioned and loving) need to control.
This is you opening up and seeing the bigger picture of life.
This is you remembering and appreciating that whatever is happening now may be (is) important to what the future holds.
Whether we choose to learn and grow from any experience is totally up to us and...no matter what...it is all as it should be for that particular time...we have no fucking idea what may happen after!
We have no clue as to what the reason for it is. How can we?
There are too many possibilities!
You can drive yourself crazy coming up with all the different scenarios, right?!
"Yeah, but what if such and such happens" "Yeah but what if they do this....." "Yeah, but what happens if they don't...."
It is isn't our place to assume we know what is "right" or "wrong" for anyone but ourselves.
We are here to share when it is welcomed, and to fully understand when it isn't.
It nothing personal because, that's right - it isn't your business!
Let's make that a mantra: "My business is mine, their business is theirs".
See how that feels. Hopefully it is full of growth, love and freedom!