Ranjana TN

Do you make other people’s problems your own?

I had an interesting experience this morning which got me thinking quite deeply about how I end up making other people’s problems my own. A friend told me how an interaction he’d had with me had reminded him of some painful memory from his past. I couldn’t shut up, of course. My interest was piqued! How had the interaction with me spurred a negative reaction in him? Why was that? Did it happen with only me?

I was now feeling indignant. How come an interaction with the flawless, honourable, kind me caused a negative reaction in him?

Before long, I was fretting quite a bit. Was it something I did or said? Was it how I said it? Maybe there’s something not okay about me that’s triggering this in the other person. 

Let’s say this happened to a good friend of yours and they were fretting about how someone else had reacted to them.  What would you say to them? That it probably wasn’t them, yes? 

Whenever someone reacts to you a certain way, it’s almost always a reaction to their own problem. They are dealing with something that’s triggered them in a very specific way. They probably would have reacted the same way to someone else who might have been in your shoes. You just happened to be the one they were interacting with at that point. 

Don’t make other people’s problems your own. It’s not intelligent and it does no one any good – least of all you!

Understand that you can be the kindest and the most empathetic person in the world but still can’t do a thing about other people’s problems. Or control how they react to anything you say or do or experience. It’s just how it is. If you’d like to take another tack on this – it’s good to stop thinking of yourself as someone who is so important and critical that you can impact someone so drastically! Please. It wasn’t you. You were just an impetus for the other person to start thinking about stuff way more important to them – their own problems. 

I’m writing this in earnest because this is exactly what I need to learn. I need to tattoo it on my brain until it becomes a part of my neural patterns. One of the biggest gifts you and I can give ourselves is not giving air time in our minds about other people’s issues. You have enough on your plate dealing with your own stuff. Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that if I am not worried about how I might have hurt another’s feelings or created problems for them, I’m being an unempathetic, cold, mean, heartless person. That’s far from the truth. By recognizing that you are never responsible for another’s problems is one of the kindest things you could do for them – you are seeing them as empowered, powerful beings they actually are. You are also acknowledging your own power to focus your thoughts on that one thing you can actually influence – your own life.