Meeting people where they are

I recently made a decision that deeply impacted, shocked, and surprised someone I care about very deeply. Without going into details, I will say that this person and I have had a very tumultuous past year.

I made the decision during a time when I was extremely hurt, angry, and frustrated. I was also lonely, and tired, and in a bad place emotionally. In other words, it was the worst time to make a decision.

Immediately after, I tried to take it back. Unfortunately, it was too late, and the damage was done. The words I said, none of which I actually meant, were already repeated to this person.

Here’s the thing though: in this situation, none of my hurt or anger was this person’s problem.

Did this person previously hurt me? Yes. However, this situation was the result of the accumulation of months of me saying “I’m fine” and “I forgive you” (but not actually letting go).

More than that though, it was about me being in a “growth mindset” of my own, and because of previous hurts, I wanted the other person to show me they had changed their behavior, grown, and would not hurt me again, even though in reality this person’s decisions and growth had nothing to do with me.

The idea of a “growth mindset” is not inherently bad, especially if it is focused on you and your own growth. In fact, it can be a very good thing. However, it might look completely different for someone else.

I have learned that a lot of heartache, anger, and bitterness towards those we love can be released simply by meeting people where they are, having the courage to trust that people really are doing they best they can with what they are given, and that sometimes things really aren’t about YOU.

So what does it look like to love someone well who maybe isn’t in the exact same growth mindset as you?

Meet people where they are. The number one reason I think people end up disappointed with others is because they have an expectation that a person is going to meet them where they are. Maybe you have been doing a lot of growth recently. However, when that gets projected onto other people it can lead to disappointment because it is an expectation that the person is going to grow to your level. Think about how long it took you to get there or to make strides in that area. Think about your own journey. What does growth look like to you? What does progress look like? Is it possible that those two things can look completely different to another person?

Have the courage to trust that people are doing the best they can with what they have. Everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle, whether it is visible on the outside or not. So often I think we look at others and think that they are purposefully doing something with malicious intentions, that they are never going to learn, that they don’t care about “growth” or themselves, but the truth is that is often far from the truth. We don’t see what is behind the scenes for most people. We don’t see the turmoil, the trauma, or the turbulent beginnings people are often forced to start with. That, and change is HARD. Instead of making things about you or taking them personally, try trusting that people really are doing the best they can with what they have been given and with the resources they have.

It’s not about you, so don’t make it about you. Part of the issue that I ran into with this person is that I was so hurt from actions that they did before, which I claimed that I forgave them for, that I made their decisions about me when in reality they had absolutely nothing to do with me at all. This person was just doing the best they could with what they had to heal their own heart. I took it upon myself to be the morality police, their growth “bootcamp” instructor, and as a result I ended up doing more harm than good. Stay in your own lane.

At the end of the day, sometimes people really are in two completely different places that are a little too far from each other. If where someone is at doesn’t work for you or it is causing you harm trying to catch them up to you, you ultimately have the choice to either 1) stop trying to do that or 2) wish them well, and let go.

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