DeborahHeadshotPicking up where we left off at the end of part 1 of this article, in the scenario of my husband’s problem with his boss, my real goal wasn’t to help my husband. My goal was to relieve my own fear-based pain at experiencing his pain. My goal was to stop his pain as quickly as possible so that I could stop my own. What I was doing didn’t “come from a good place”; it came from fear. From wanting to fix it for him to release myself from fear faster instead of respecting him enough to fix it himself when the time was optimal for his highest good. The tip-off was that I got annoyed when he didn’t take my suggestion—annoyance being one of fear’s many ugly cousins. It is nothing short of arrogant of me to think I could possibly run my husband’s life better than he could.

I’m asked all the time if this means it’s always wrong to make suggestions or try to teach anyone anything. No, that is not what it means. Here’s how to tell the difference between making a respectful suggestion and disrespectful interference. When I am coming from respect, I have no energetic charge over whether you act on what I share. When I’m being respectful, I’m fully and creatively engaged in the process with no attachment to the outcome. Disrespect is evidenced when I get hooked by what you decide to do or not do: either relief or happiness when you do it my way or anxiety, frustration, or anger when you don’t. Either reaction demonstrates that I am a little too invested in how you live your life. When I feel neutral about whether you do or don’t adopt my suggestions or act on the information I shared, I’m coming from respect.

This lesson was driven home for me dramatically when I heard the following story a couple years ago. In late fall, a man stood enthralled watching a caterpillar spin a cocoon on a branch outside the kitchen window. All winter long, the man watched over the cocoon, amazed at how it withstood the onslaught of freezing rain, blizzards, and harsh winds. When spring finally arrived, the man was relieved to see the cocoon still hanging in there. As spring ripened into summer, the day finally came when the butterfly began to make its departure from the cocoon. The man watched the butterfly work to break free. The process went slowly and looked difficult. The man became impatient with how long it was taking and anxious that the butterfly was suffering. He could hardly bear to watch. Finally, beside himself with frustration and worry, the man decided to help. He took a small pair of nail scissors and carefully cut the cocoon open wider to allow the butterfly to escape more quickly and easily. Alas, the butterfly did escape but died just a few minutes later. What appeared to the man as a needless struggle was actually crucial developmental time the butterfly needed to be able to thrive outside the cocoon. Robbed of that added growth opportunity, the butterfly never developed the strength it needed to survive and flourish.

When I first heard this story, I sat at my kitchen counter and sobbed; I finally got it. All those times when, energized by my own fear, I had interfered with another’s life, I had been decidedly unloving. When I disrespected the other’s personal path by trying to shortcut her opportunity to learn in her own way and time, I had demonstrated anxiety, self-doubt, avoidance, and arrogance.

While the lesson of the chrysalis didn’t result in me ending all fear-based interference overnight, it has made me much more aware of what’s energizing my actions. In those situations where fear and a lack of respect are my fuel, I am faster at detaching and releasing myself and the other person to walk our authentic individual paths with love and light.

These examples don’t just demonstrate the subtlety of respecting others’ boundaries; they point the way to respecting my own. Without a doubt, the greatest violator of my own personal boundaries is me. I am the perpetrator of unconscionably disrespectful words and acts against myself. Much of it happens in the confines of my own head.

When I use my thoughts to undermine my self-confidence and punish myself repeatedly for past “mistakes,” I am abusing myself. When I incessantly rehash painful scenarios from my past, I cause myself far greater injury through that repetitive instant replay than the original abuser ever caused me. When I communicate to myself in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that I don’t matter, am not good enough, and am powerless, I am being cruel. When I tell myself I’m crazy to keep thinking, saying, and doing the things I do, I disrespect my journey and myself. Most of us never say anything half as loathsome to others, even in our most enraged moments, as we say to ourselves daily in casual conversation. Respecting myself means zero tolerance for self-judging and self-abuse.

The only person controlling your life is you. Turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities by harnessing the transformative power of love to step into your greatness. Choose your energy and change your life!


© Copyright 2013 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

What’s love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything, according to empowerment coach and inspirational speaker Deborah Jane Wells, author of Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life! During her 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, Deborah served as a senior partner in four of the world’s largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, she took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. Her recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding her purpose guiding others on their journeys. Through healing and self-exploration, she discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work, and the world. Deborah’s books, blog, radio show, and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness that same transformative power of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. Learn more at the Deborah Jane Wells Website.