My friend’s daughter, who I will call Sam, taught me a most valuable lesson about eight months ago. (I should add that she shared this gem when we were at lunch. Sam treated her mom and me to a wonderful lunch, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And no, that’s not why I listened to her, but she is quite special to me.)
During the lunch we were talking about a concern with an acquaintance we all knew. Her mom and I were expressing our concerns and Sam listened quietly. When her mom and I finished, Sam said “If they like it, I love it.” I looked puzzled. Sam went on to explain that her response to other people’s decisions is “If you like it, I love it!” I sat there and felt like I saw a shining light coming through the restaurant’s windows. “If you like it, I love it.” “If you like it, I love it.”
Of course, Sam’s point was that when adults make decisions, you have to respect their decisions and their choices, whether you agree with them or not. If they make the right call, then it’s all good. If they make the wrong one, then they will have to handle the aftermath of that decision. In the ensuing conversation Sam shared that the challenge is to not let the poor decisions of those you care about impact you negatively.
You must set boundaries and refuse to move them. This takes quite a bit of fortitude. However, this response places ownership for actions precisely where it belongs: On the adult who chooses to make that decision or take a specific action.
I have been trying desperately to automatically pivot to this response when I learn that people, I care about, have made decisions or taken actions that, in my assessment, will not end in a good result for them. Unless they specifically ask for my opinion, I am going with Sam’s response. Family member in a questionable relationship? “If you like it, I love it.” Friend living that champagne lifestyle on a beer budget? “If you like it, I love it.” Colleague decided to take that new job with a company that has a horrible reputation? “If you like it, I love it.” Wow. I feel less stressed already.