It wasn’t until I was 16 that someone called me “Captain Correction.” My sister whole-heartedly agreed and my awareness of this tendency has come and gone since. My desire to correct, or inform, isn’t bred out of a sense of superiority; it stems from a genuine desire to be helpful and useful (read: in ways that I want or choose to be useful).
Last night, a girl who lives down the hall from me asked me for some matches and invited me over for some of her birthday cake. I should’ve said “no” because I’m not supposed to be eating sugar and I need to keep my word to myself (more on that later), but I opted to be polite and went over to sing ‘happy birthday’ and ate cake. I would’ve preferred to have gotten the cake and left, but stayed and talked to her and her friend.
In the course of our conversation, she mentioned that she’s trying out a new workout regimen. It went a little something like this:
Her: “Last week, I started this new workout and I really like it.”
Me: “Ok. What are you doing?”
“Well, I work out every day for two hours.” (As she eats a slice of cake that’s technically a large fraction.)
“Two hours? That’s not sustainable.”
“For me it is. I just go at night.”
“Well, what do you do?”
“I lift weights and do cardio.”
“Do you work the same muscle groups everyday?”
“Hmmm…that’s really not a good idea. You should alternate days. Why do you lift weights?”
“Because I like it.”
“No. You lift weights because you want to build muscle. You can’t build muscle if you don’t give your muscles time to repair.”
“Thanks, Leandra, but I really don’t want your opinion on this.”
“I’m just saying…if you scrape your knee, when you wake up, you’ll have a scab, but that doesn’t mean it’s healed. The same thing goes for your muscles. I’m not saying stop working out. I’d never tell you that. I’m just saying alternate days when you work certain muscle groups.”
She smiles, says “okay,” and abruptly changes the subject.
Initially, I was slightly offended with her “I don’t want your opinion” comment because she needs the advice and I could be an excellent resource for her. However, that’s her decision not mine. At the same time, I couldn’t help but to respect her for saying it. I’m SO going to jack it!
Last night was eye-opening for me in a few different ways.
1.) When someone declines your assistance (or your message, product, etc.), they’re not rejecting you; they’re rejecting it! Don’t take it personally.
2.) Even if you know what’s best for someone, they have to learn on their own. Just as someone knew what was best for you at some point in life and you rebuffed their advice. Everyone’s got to put in their own sweat equity into their lives, learn their own hard lessons. Don’t impede on the process.
A few weeks ago, I read this article from this life coach on how coaching has improved their life. One of the things they noticed was that they’ve become a better listener and–this is key–they wait for the opening in which they can ask if it’s alright to offer a suggestion. I hadn’t thought of that before…asking if I can help before doing so. Hmmm… I will take that into consideration in the future.
3.) In order for people to respect your boundaries, you need to put them in place and stand by them. It was awesome that she said she didn’t want my advice, but not so awesome how she pushed her cake on me after I said I wasn’t eating sugar. The difference between us was that I conceded and she didn’t. Noted.
Sticking by what you’ve laid out for you doesn’t make you rude. You’re not causing offense, but others may take offense when they don’t keep #1 in mind.
4.) There’s all this talk about keeping your word, but rarely is it self-directed. Keeping your word to yourself is of immense importance. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you’re self-respect is tied to your ability to keep your word to yourself. I’m not eating sugar. You can offer. I won’t accept. That’s my word. I’ll be declining sugar and doing other things I said I would for myself…because my opinion of me matters more than yours.
Find the good, people. Be inspired. And be good to yourself.