I LOVE this article that offers relationship advice in regards to taking on someone else’s problems. We all have problems, but I think what Kaplin is saying is, when other people tell you their problems, listen and empathize, but remember that they are not YOUR problems, and that you are powerless to an extent to help them. Sure, you can lend an ear and offer your support, but to try to give too much advice can be a disservice to both you and to the other person, and can leave you feeling frustrated. What you would do in a situation might be a lot different than how the other person chooses to handle it. And remember, if you love someone, have respect for how he or she chooses to handle a situation, even if it’s not the same way you would choose to handle it.
Get Out Of My Car! by Lisa Kaplin
Do you ever find yourself in the middle of your kid’s business, or your partner’s, or your co-worker’s? Are you over involved, telling them what to do and over attached to their outcomes? Well, I was mentioning this issue to a friend of mine and she told me that she and her husband call it, “getting in other peoples’ cars.” They say to each other, “Don’t get in my car” as a reminder to not get dragged into other people’s drama.
When my husband comes home from work and is upset about something that happened that day, I can listen to him, but not get in his car! My kids can call home and complain or tell me how unhappy they are and I don’t have to get in their car! There is something so fabulously freeing about this concept and how my friend and her husband labeled it.
We can empathize with other’s problems without getting in their car and going along for the ride.
Would you get in the car with a friend who has been drinking? I hope not. I hope you would take their keys and wait until they sober up. You also wouldn’t get in a friend’s car if they were driving erratically or they were over tired. So why do we get into other’s cars when they are upset, angry, or making life harder for themselves? We wouldn’t if we really thought it out.
Not getting in the car doesn’t mean we don’t listen to them or that we don’t empathize with them. Both are important and what people do when they care about each other, but we don’t have to go along for the ride. When my kids were little and they had temper tantrums, I learned that I didn’t have to get involved in that. It was their car to ride in, not mine.
So ask yourself whose car you’re getting in and why? How are you helping by getting in that person’s car? What’s it keeping you from in your own life and how could it be holding you back in some way? Does getting in that person’s car ever improve the relationship or just make you both a bit crazy? Think about it, we can only drive one car at a time, so drive your own car and get out of everyone else’s. The roads will be a lot safer if we do.
Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist, life and executive coach, and professional speaker. She helps people live happier, healthier, and more productive lives than they ever thought possible. You can reach her at Lisa@lisakaplin.com
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