I don’t know why, but I always hated to be taken care of. I can’t stand to be helped when I don’t want to. Even as a kid, I didn’t feel comfortable when my parents were overprotective or when some challenges were silently removed with the help of other people. I felt like I was missing something. And it wasn’t always the thrill of the risk, it was something more.
The Hidden Poison
Later on, when I grew up and started to engage in my own relationships, something interesting happened. I started to notice when other people were heading against a “wall” too. In other words, I started to see how the outcome of a certain activity a certain person was engaging in, would be toxic for that specific person. Call it experience, or intuition, or luck, fact is I started to notice the “walls” the people were heading against. And they were literally running for that wall, with a lot of confidence and full speed.
In my early relationships I took the protective role. Every time I was perceiving such a wall, I took pride in letting the other person know about it. You’re heading against a wall, you’re going to get hurt. I even explained the whole process and how exactly the wall is going to hit. Most of the time, the other person would listen to me.
But, surprisingly enough, every time the partner was listening to me and the wall was circumvented following my advice, the relationship was slowly starting to degrade. Not immediately and not visibly, but there was a certain trend, a nuance that in a few months or years evolved in a much stronger difference of opinions. It was like avoiding the wall poisoned the relationship. Of course, my warnings were correct, and from an individual perspective, everything was better than before: the other person avoided a major crisis. But at the relationship level, something was rotten.
That Tired, Protective Guy
Let me give you an example. I had a girlfriend who was rather impulsive. Although we had quite a lot of emotional bonding and an overall healthy and friendly relationship, there were a lot of times when her impulsivity made her say stupid things or act in violent ways. Of course, those rants had consequences. Very close to the consequences you get after you hit a wall. Because I really enjoyed the other part of the relationship, I took the protective approach. Every time she was ready to hit another “wall” of impulsivity I was there, subtly turning the events in a different direction. For a good amount of time I was able to maintain a balance.
But then something different started to emerge. Not only was I supposed to give more and more support, but my peaceful approach was taken for granted. It was like keeping the relationship sane and safe was my job, and my job only. Quite a difference from the beginning, when we were just two people who were enjoying each other and their life together. Now I was supposed to calm her down all the time, to swallow in silence every fight and to be there at any sign of imbalance. Instead of being her friend I become her shrink.
Took me a while to realize that I don’t want to be a shrink for my personal relationships, but I eventually did it. And at that moment I left. And I congratulate myself every single day for that decision. When I did it, things were already in pretty bad shape. I was “guilty” for everything in the Universe, for her failures, for my failures, for her decisions as well as for mines. Quite a mess. And the breaking up didn’t went well either.
However, in a few months the silence slowly covered the whole mess and I was able to start fresh. This time, with a valuable lesson learned. I entered a new relationship ready to let the other person made her own mistakes. I made a commitment to be there after the hit, if and when she needs me, of course, but basically leave her alone to act exactly as she wants.
Now, back to the first relationship. We met again a few months ago, now from totally different positions. We still have a lot in common (I won’t detail more, but we still have some lifelong commitments). Fact is that even when we met again, the “you gotta solve this mess” approach was still there. Dormant, immobile and silent, but ready to be awaken at the slightest sign of complacency from my part. Of course, I didn’t gave such a sign, nor do I intend to do it. Everybody has their own walls to be hit.
Help and Growth
Hitting your own wall, doing your own mistakes and recovering from them is fundamental. You can’t function in a balanced way if you avoid doing that. Most of the time, people are avoiding difficult challenges upfront. But sometimes, our so-called friends and partners act in an over-protective way, preventing us from dealing with our problems.
Many marriages are based on this rotten approach. The wife is not autonomous because she is afraid of getting a job (afraid of failure, afraid of spending too much time there as opposed to being a mother or afraid of being on her own). And the partner will start to provide more and more, in order to keep her sane and safe. Hitting the wall of “getting a job” and “being autonomous” is exactly what the wife needs in order to grow. By providing her cut of the revenue too, husband will block this process. And, after a certain amount of time, husband will find himself in the very awkward position of providing a lot of other stuff besides the material support. Enormous emotional support being the most common one.
Instead of a balanced relationship between two people who are enjoying themselves and their time together, they now have a binomial: one of the members is in constant need (material, emotional) and the other one is constantly providing. And because of the nature of the exchange, the one who provides will never be perceived as a partner, but as a provider. It will be more like a parent-child relationship.
Now, I know what you think: if you, as a personal development blogger, tell us to go ahead and hit our own walls, what exactly are you doing here? How do you expect us to find something useful for our problems in your blog? Well, that’s an interesting question and I hear it a lot (sometimes in a different form, but it’s very common). “What exactly are you doing with this personal development thing?”
Well, I’m not here, as a personal development blogger, to solve your problems. I’m not here to prevent you from hitting your own walls. Hitting your own walls is a fundamental right. I’m not going to take that away from you. Here, on this blog, I share my experiences in the hope that they will be motivational and inspiring. I try to ignite the spark of action. The spark of change. But that spark alone won’t do a thing by itself. You have to give it more oxygen in order to make it a fire. You have to do things. Even if that means hitting your own wall.
Warnings and Mistakes
Now that you’re prepared to start doing your own mistakes, let’s finish with a nice joke about warnings:
Two monks were sitting on the side of the road, with huge signs in big letters: “The end is near. Repent!” Cars were passing by pretty fast and of course, nobody would stop.. After a few seconds, powerful crash sounds were coming from behind the monks. And after each sound, the monks were trying to be even more persuasive, almost shouting.
After a few hours of doing this, one of them, apparently the younger one, asks the other: “Father, don’t you think it would be better to just write on those signs: broken bridge ahead?”.
I know, I laughed too. 🙂