Thursday, January 13, 2011

Let people be

I tried to teach someone a lesson yesterday and ended up learning a lot about myself. 

I work with people who have a developmental disability.  I was speaking to one of my coworkers who was helping someone with their cooking skills.  My coworker mentioned that this person can already cook but is very set in their ways.  They have routines that they follow when preparing their food.  My coworker said that there are easier ways to prepare the food and it was frustrating to see the person do things in ways that seemed inefficient.

My message was: who cares?  The person is independent.  They are cooking for themselves. Who cares if it takes twice as long to make dinner?

Then I went home to help make my own dinner.  Being one half of a couple who enjoys cooking together is wonderful.  We spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Last night, we weren't in the kitchen two minutes when I felt the need to make a suggestion for how to do something differently.  I caught myself just in time.  It wasn't about doing it better - it was just about doing it my way.  So I said nothing.

By the time dinner was in the oven, I had stopped myself from making suggestions at least 10 times.  Each time, I recognized that the suggestion would not have made things better - they just would have made things done my way. 


How much time and energy do we waste trying to get people to change how they do things, how they behave, how they think?  Are we really helping them or making their lives better or easier?  Or do we just want to people to do what we want them to do?

So I'm going to try very hard NOT to make helpful suggestions.  I'm going to let people be who they are and love them for that very reason.  And, who knows, maybe I'll learn a few new tricks.


  1. Wow, Celine!

    You clearly have an keen sense of self but what strikes me is your willingness to share your observations so openly and honestly!

    Perhaps being able to acknowledge the instances when our "helpfullness" is more about us and less about those we're trying to help is another one of those subtle remembers that there is no true need for us to continually try to shape the world to our liking ... and that it's perfectly okay to leave things as they are ... and be thankful to simply be able to enjoy the journey.

    Thank you sooooo much for sharing.

  2. Thanks John! Learning to enjoy the journey is a journey in itself isn't it? :)

  3. Hmmm, I think the word is "Omigod!"