Written for In Care of Relationships by Terri Crosby
Today’s conversation about “improvement gone wrong” is a huge subject with high impact in relationships.
Frankly, it could be considered a s-p-r-a-w-l-i-n-g subject. Heck, it’s basically unwieldy.
But I’m going to give it a whirl.
Some version of this topic comes up in practically every consulting session I do. It also comes up in the daily news, in politics, in homes, churches and schools — everywhere, in all sorts of ways. Therefore, I think talking about it here could be really helpful.
So hang in there and do your best to keep an open mind — and tune in next week to take the Quiz in Part 2. It will certainly make you think. And I would love your feedback, so feel free to comment.
In this post, I am speaking — mostly — about women, because the majority of my clients are female. But this subject is certainly not exclusive to females.
However, in my experience, what I will highlight is more of a feminine tendency, and, of course men have a feminine aspect as well. So I’m hanging this on “the feminine” aspect, but not on women, if that makes sense. I’m attempting to simplify enough to make this a manageable and focused conversation. Fair enough?
Why talk to women about improvement gone rogue?
There’s a good reason for that.
Because this type of improvement we are exploring is a woman’s arena. It’s our skill, our passion.
There’s a really good thing women do.
We beautify, improve, guide, garnish, shape up, nurture, cultivate, enhance and make better.
We do it all the time. It’s our thing. Women make the world a more beautiful place.
In overly simplistic terms, we could say the feminine is inspired to beautify or make our environment aesthetically pleasing. This creates ease and relaxation in us, and we like that a lot. The masculine carries out the inspiration, puts muscle to it, and makes the idea physical.
The feminine is receptive (receives inspiration) and the masculine builds it. The masculine turns the vision into a building, a helpful gadget, water delivery system, and so on.
Can women build? Yep. Can men be inspired? Yep. We all have both masculine and feminine in us. Our personal balance of masculine and feminine helps make us the unique person we are.
The Feminine Principle — Beautify. Nurture. Enhance.
Is the patio a little plain? We add a potted plant or a flower. Is the living room a little dull? We brighten it up, freshen it up, add a pillow or a throw, or a whole new set of furniture. Does the show need a little kick? A little pizzazz? We add choreography, special effects, or a humorous skit to make the audience happy.
We paint. We add color. We make life more visually pleasing. We make our surroundings more beautiful, more pleasant.
We enhance. It’s what we do.
But Can This Skill Get A Little Out Of Hand?
Can the idea of improvement create problems?
Maybe. Every good thing has an opposite. So how could improvement possibly go wrong?
When we think we can improve someone else, or when we “know better” for them than they know for themselves…
…about their method of doing something.
…or who they are being.
…or what they should do. What’s a legitimate profession? Is school important? How should you get your college degree? What about a back up plan? What’s “good enough?”
…how they should run their life, plan a wedding, raise children, or eat.
The downward spiral can happen when our own penchant for betterment gets all over someone else. It happens when we think we know better — for someone else. It might be that we offer advice when we’ve not been asked. We inject our solution because we’re sure it will improve things. Or we tell someone how to arrange his/her life or what to do.
We mean well. We believe we’re giving advice that will help the other person. We’re sure we have their best interests at heart. But, when it comes right down to it, we meddle.
And then our meddling, well, you know… those we meddle with get upset, they walk away in a huff, vowing never to speak to us again. They get mad. They get irritated. They don’t want to hear our good and well-meaning advice.
And they shouldn’t have to. Why? Because the advice from you fits you better than them. You know yourself better than anyone.
“What-I-think-you-should-do” causes arguments, too, about little things like how to load the dishwasher. And about big things like how to love, give attention or make happy. It’s also where we might argue with our kids about what their priorities should be, what they should pay attention to or consider important, why they should stay in school, who to spend time with, or their eventual livelihood.
So how would you rate yourself in this area? Want to find out?
Tune in next week to take the Meddling Quiz and then check out some solutions.