Other People’s Stories – 2


Welcome to the continuing saga of “Other People’s Stories”.

Since our last episode, I have had a few interesting conversations about this issue. I was informed that there was more to tell with regards to responding to complaints as well as co-dependency. I also realize that I did not cover other people’s expectations or the danger of continually comparing your life performance to the lives of others around you.

Problem Solving versus a Complaint Driven Life

Complaints are all around us. Every day we hear people complain about the weather or about some political issue. One main tactic to addressing life complaints is to consider if the complaint was just stated to “let off steam” or if the complaint was an indirect (or even direct) request for problem solving. Most of the time, it is easy to determine if someone is complaining to “let off steam” since this complaint focuses on their feelings and contains statements such as “well, whatcha going do?” If you have the feeling that the complaint is a request for problem solving, it would be valuable to run it through a few questions:

–       Is this something I have the influence to change?

–       Is this something that is important to me?

–       Is it my job or responsibility to change?

In my work, it is my professional responsibility to sift through other people’s complaints on a regular basis. When I am interacting with a staff member who is talking about a work issue that is negatively impacting their ability to perform his or her job, it is my professional responsibility to act on it. However, if someone is talking about an issue that I have no influence to change, I will listen compassionately and do my best to encourage the other person to consider their emotional response to that situation.

Co Dependent Directors

There are many co-dependents that do not see themselves as either “co-dependent” or as someone prioritizing someone else’s issues. Co-dependents can identify themselves, as caring are responsible people. One possible red flag for co-dependency is becoming a “director” of another person’s life. This is the tendency of setting situations up so that other people act or feel a certain way or expecting others to act or feel a certain way. If you constantly find yourself feeling a great feeling of dis-ease when someone is not feeling/acting the way you want, you may just be a co-dependent.

Other People’s Expectations

Remember, you are in control of your own character and your own life’s path. Own this responsibility! If we do not firmly take responsibility of our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, habits or actions, we are prone to undue influence of other people’s expectations. The expectations that I am referring to are not the common social expectations that we are all subject to. I am talking about the expectations of others that lead us into action that we may not want. For example, if you know deeply that you are intrinsically an artist, but your father always though of you as a great candidate for medical school, you will most likely be fulfilled if you followed your true passion instead of donning the role of “doctor” to meet your dad’s expectations.

Healthy Comparison

There is an element of comparing yourselves to others that can serve a purpose. Most of the time the tendency of comparing ourselves to others in our peer group offers us a form of social feedback. However, once we establish a pattern of habitually comparing ourselves to others, we can lose our internal locus of control and begin to define ourselves by others’ around us. We are NOT the other people around us! We are our unique personality. If Johnny is better at basketball, that’s good for Johnny. We should not view ourselves as inferior if our performance at basketball is not as good as Johnny. If we are looking at our own performance, it is best if we measure our current performance versus our past performance. Otherwise, we are in danger of losing important aspects of our own identity.

It is wonderful to have other people in our lives. Other people can have a positive influence. It is beneficial to remember to remain in charge of our own identity and to be the best that we can be.

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