Ep.08 Listening with Love: NOT Insisting On Our Own Way

(Podcast available 7/22/22)

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with not insisting on my own way sometimes. I get this thought in my head that says, “I KNOW what’s best for you.” That belief is DEFINITELY not a part of listening with love. That is me trying to control someone else’s journey and being uncomfortable with their suffering. When I do this, I take on their suffering as my own too, which is not healthy either. What is interesting is that I’m well aware of the fact that I can’t MAKE someone change and stop suffering if that is where they are. You might have listened to that on my last podcast.

My own struggles with thinking that my way is best got me thinking about how many of us will read, learn, or do something that we think EVERYONE should do. When we are new to things like religion, yoga, EFT, 12-step programs, gratitude journals, The Work by Bryon Katie, meditation, or whatever we find that is helping us enjoy our own journey more, we often start shoulding on others. I know I’ve done this many times.

I just did it to my daughter about EFT tapping. She was talking about all these ailments, and because I just took a course and am reading two books on it right now, I just shoulded her to the point of her breaking down in tears yelling at me how she doesn’t want to do it. She wasn’t asking me for advice. She just wanted to feel seen and heard. Instead, she was left feeling angry and alone. Luckily, I saw it. We talked through it, but I know there have been plenty of times where I didn’t see it.

I wouldn’t even be shocked if some of my posts come across like that from time to time, because let’s not forget, I’m human and I want to help people. I can be confused sometimes too. As much as I know that if someone wants one of my seeds they will plant them, I can get lost sometimes in the beauty of the flower that sprouted from the seed and think it’s what’s best for other people’s gardens, but guess what, just because something works in my garden doesn’t mean it will work in someone else’s garden. Our soil, water, sun, and shade all play a part in what works in our gardens and what doesn’t.

I can’t tell you the number of books, seminars, and classes I’ve been to where I was told how amazing something worked, but if it isn’t right for me in that moment, I don’t do it. Changing unhealthy patterns takes an inner strength that is often born from our suffering. We know when we are ready to commit to change, because we just start doing it one choice at a time. No one else can tell us the right timing for this, because they aren’t the ones who have to commit to doing the work.

Listening with love in this situation takes a lot of restraint for me. Sometimes I have it and other times I don’t. When I don’t, it can lead to the person I’m trying to help shaming themselves, which is actually making things worse for them. It can also put up a wall, because a person feels like if they don’t take my advice, they are failing me somehow. Just in case any people I know are reading or listening, this is not true at all. I definitely don’t mean for people to shame themselves or feel guilty for not doing something I suggest.

I can’t make someone change. A person not only has to want to change, they have to connect with the path to change. I can give them seeds, but sneaking into their gardens trying to plant them doesn’t work. If I’m spending all my energy in someone else’s garden, then there is no one taking care of mine. That’s when my weeds start taking over.  They have to be the ones to love and nurture the seeds if they want them to grow.

What I’m working on is asking if a person wants advice or if they just want to vent. If they want advice, I offer some of the seeds I’ve grown in my garden, or one’s I’ve noticed in someone else’s garden that might be a good fit, but here is the real key to all this: I don’t get attached to them planting any of the seeds, because it’s their garden to design and maintain. I have my own to work to do in order to keep the weeds from taking over my own garden. Focusing my attention on what I have no control over doesn’t serve them or me.  

If I’m truly listening with love, I’m not attached to if a person does things my way or not. My part is to listen and speak from my own personal experience, and then let them decide to do what is best for them, whether I agree or not isn’t what’s important. My connecting to others from a loving place is what matters.

Some of the toughest things I’ve gone through were what gave me my strength, perseverance, courage, confidence, compassion, and enthusiasm to want to change what isn’t serving me. Our timing is our own. Sometimes, we just have to work through the crud to get our soil to the place where it’s healthy enough to plant the garden of our dreams. It’s also what keeps us going in order to maintain it.

Nobody else can do the work for us, so it doesn’t help to feel shame or guilt because we aren’t following someone else’s garden design. Just because someone thinks that their way is the BEST way doesn’t mean it is for someone else. We always experience exactly what we are meant to experience, so if we take someone’s seed and grow it, it’s because that seed was meant to be a part of our garden. If we don’t plant it, or if we do and it doesn’t stick, then there is a reason for that too. If we put it in our pocket and years later, we get the call to plant it, then that is what we were meant to do.

Listening with love is about being there to give ideas when requested, and allowing a person the space to help figure out what’s working and what’s not. Often times the answer is inside of them, they just need to hear themselves say it. Many times, if we ask the right questions, we can help them get there, but we have to listen with love in order to figure out the questions. In the end, they are responsible and accountable for their choices. So the rewards or consequences of their choices are on them.

We cause ourselves unnecessary suffering when we take on someone else’s journey like it is our own and insist they do things the way we think they should because of it. EVERYONE has their own journeys, and each journey comes with rewards and consequences based on the choices we make. Sometimes we need to face some of the consequences in order to figure out what works in our gardens and what doesn’t. The faster we accept that, the healthier our relationships will be whether they are with our parents, partners, children, friends, etc.

My way might be what works for me right now, but we each are FREE to choose what steps we want to take and which ones we don’t. We might fall down a hill and stumble on some of the most beautiful flowers we’ve ever seen. Once we get up, we decide to plant those flowers in our gardens. It’s not about being right about someone else’s journey. We are not God, but we can be walking examples of Divine love if we choose to listen without insisting on our own way.

With Love and Gratitude,

©Rachael Wolff

2 responses to “Ep.08 Listening with Love: NOT Insisting On Our Own Way”

  1. I feel attacked lol. Rachael, I had to drop a comment because I felt like you were talking directly to me. I needed this, as a mother, a friend, and as a teacher who wants to help others heal and grow. I’ve been guilty of all of the not-so-helpful habits you mentioned. The story of your daughter hit home. I have a 21-year old daughter who, in her old-soul way, told me she and her siblings are not always seeking a fix, sometimes they just need their mom to listen and hear them.

    Thank you for your insightful words.


    Liked by 1 person

    • My son said a very similar thing to me. My kids brought this one to my attention for sure! Thank you for your thoughtful words! I appreciate knowing I’m not alone in this, lol.


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