- Posted July 2, 2018
I take great pride in my belief “I meet people where they are” – and this got me thinking, do I really? What does this mean? Is it enough to ignore your preconceived notions (I think we all have them); or do we need to be more proactive? Are we asking too much (or worse, too little) of others – and of ourselves?
Let’s unpack all this, starting from the last sentence. How many of us are in a hamster wheel – we get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, rinse & repeat. Maybe we wonder if there’s more, or maybe this has been burned out of us by “life”. Most, if not all, of us had big dreams and visions of what our future looked like when we were children – what happened? Okay – I acknowledge becoming an astronaut was a reach (and after living on submarines not something I yearn for any longer); but where did the sense of wonder and desire to stretch go?
Speaking for myself, I found it with the passing of my wife. This was the wake-up call I needed – I had allowed myself to accept my circumstances as the only way they could be – forgetting the person responsible for my success and happiness was myself. Then I noticed how others seem to look to me for approval; my acknowledgment they’re doing what they should be. In a VERY limited way I can give them this (if it’s true); in the sense I can acknowledge what they are doing and whether or not it seems to be furthering them towards their goals – but I CANNOT tell them they are on the “right” path for their lives.
To me, meeting people where they are isn’t blindly accepting them – warts and all. In my opinion it means holding a mirror up and helping them achieve the best self THEY want to be. NOT who YOU (I) want them to be. I cannot communicate how strongly I feel about this. Not going into my backstory, but it took me a LOT of years to find myself; with too many wrong turns and false starts along the way.
My son knows he is different, he knows he has Autism; but I don’t think he understands. At first he blamed his inability to do things on his diagnosis and it seemed like he beat himself up (we have challenges communicating); however he has come to understand (I think) difficulties in life are normal and everyone (including super dad) faces them. I do my best to acknowledge his frustration while doing my best to help him find alternatives and supports.
I believe we ALL have things we’re not good at, and if we allow ourselves to focus on those we are keeping ourselves from realizing our potential. I feel too many of us live our lives for others, believing we are meant to help them find happiness. This is a noble calling, and I’d ask you to make a minor (but not easy) tweak. If you truly want to help others, work to help them learn how to be happy with themselves. Teach them how to accept who they are; but first ensure you have taken the time to learn, and be okay with, who you are.