Whose book are you writing?
If you were halfway through writing a book and I decided I would help you by sitting at your keyboard and adding a few chapters, how would you feel? Probably one of the politest responses you would manage to squeeze out, would be, “What on earth do you think you are doing? You don’t understand the complexities of the plot or the hero – you can’t just jump in now and start adding your bit. You don’t even know what my intention is!”
Writing a book is a well-known analogy for living a life. Each and every one of us is the author of our own book, yet how often do we find our attention or even our pen straying onto the pages of someone else’s book?
No matter how well intentioned we may deem our thoughts or actions to be, we will never truly know what is best for another person. For many of us it may feel so natural to help someone out of a pickle, but that very pickle could provide a necessary experience of struggle and subsequent learning, strength and the resolve to forge ahead. Self-elected intervention with the intention of rescuing may only postpone the other person’s growth process.
We are always free to offer help provided we respect the other’s right to decline. And the same applies to advice when it is sought – the other has the right to decide whether or not to follow the advice. Advice is suggestive, not dictatorial.
Being fully present in our own life reduces the tendency to want to write another’s life story.
Carol (pseudonym) had decided to take up art classes. She didn’t consider herself exceptionally talented in art but she absolutely loved the process of sketching and painting. However, her enjoyment of the classes was overshadowed by her belief that her fellow class mates, who happened to have post-graduate degrees in art, were all running internal commentaries ridiculing her efforts.
This is yet another example of how we can so quickly leap onto the pages of other people’s life stories to add a few internal monologues. Did Carol truly know what her fellow class mates were thinking or whether they even had any spare time, during the absorption in their own creations, to consider her efforts? And in any case, their thoughts are also their creations and therefore fall under their proprietorship.
As Byron Katie says, life is sub-divided into my business, your business and God’s business. God’s business is reality and out of my control, as is your business. I need only concern myself with my business because that is the only area over which I have control. Fully accepting this concept frees us to become the finest author of our own life story.