“The attempt to steer a person can make it hard for them to move, because it inactivates their own guidance system.”

I found this lovely quote off of an Instagram account called 1.spiritual. I enjoyed it so much that I made it my quote for the week. It also inspired me to write this little blog.

In this context, I think the word “steer” can be defined as one of the following:

  • A person controlling the movement of . . .
  • Follow in a specified direction

To me, this quote is referring to “steer” in the context of control. This quote advises people not to control others because it hinders the intuition of the person being controlled. It also could veer the person being controlled off the path they were meant to take in life.

Basically, controlling another person is not the way to go.

Whether we are aware of it or not, what we say and do can affect others in a positive or negative manner. When we exert control over another person, we are not helping them. We are crippling them. We are hindering their personal growth and progress.

And why are we exerting control? Is it really to help them? Or is it for more selfish reasons such as to feel superior or to feel some sort of value and worth?

While this may not be the case for everyone, I’ve personally noticed that those who feel the need to exert huge amounts of control on others do so because they feel they have NO control. Weird, right? It coincidences with a previous post I did regarding people who judge. Those who judge others are the ones who tend to feel the most insecure about themselves. Like those who bully do so because of an insecurity of some kind. The same can be said for those who try to control others. Those who try to control feel powerless over their life or their mortality or whatever the case, so they try to regain their power by controlling another person’s actions. Some have had terrible childhoods where they felt powerless, so they try to (incorrectly) heal their childhood scars (regain their power) by controlling others. For some, it’s not to heal their scars, but they believe deep down that if they do not control others, then others will control them. It understandable to have that mindset, especially if they grew up in a dog eat dog world where survival wasn’t guaranteed.

This doesn’t excuse their controlling demeanor and it doesn’t mean you should subject yourself to a person who is dominating your life. You may love this person, but you also have to love yourself enough not to subject yourself to inappropriate treatment. I’m merely mentioning where the person controlling may be coming from because, sometimes, the actions someone takes on us have nothing to do with us. For the person controlling, they need a person to control and it happens to be you. If they weren’t trying to control you, they would be trying to control someone else. While it feels very personalized, it may not be. You are not the problem. You do not deserve to be controlled.

While controlling is harmful, this does not mean that you can’t help others. I made a point to define what I think “steer” means in this quote because there are other versions of the definition “steer” that I do like:

  • A person guides the movement . . .
  • A piece of advice or information concerning the development of a situation

There is nothing wrong with helping and guiding people along their paths in life. Goodness knows I have had many wonderful people who have helped me along my journey. Their wisdom and their personal experiences helped shape me into the person I am today. It has helped me become a better person as well as a better doctor.

Some of their advice, I took and integrated it into my journey. Some of their advice did not resonate with me and I did not use it. That, I feel, is the key difference between guiding and controlling. Guiding takes into account my free will to decide how I will respond. With guiding, I can decide not to take the person’s advice and there are no hard feelings. I can decide to do something completely different and/or listen to someone else’s advice and the person doesn’t take it personally. The person doesn’t feel powerless or insecure that I did not follow their advice. They could have given me excellent advice and it just happens not to work with the path I’ve chosen to take. Even when I don’t follow a person’s advice, I do store it in my mind to pass along to others who may be in the same predicament because for that person the advice may be beneficial. I can also go along and make a decision without asking for advice and the person respects my choice. I can listen to my gut instinct and decide to follow my intuition and there are no hard feelings.

When a person controls instead of guides, there is no other way to do things. There is only one way, the “right way” this person had decided is such. This person takes it very personal if a person does not follow their advice. They have a “right way” to do everything and will force their viewpoint on a person. They want the person to listen to them over the person’s gut instinct. They believe they are always right. There are consequences if their advice is not taken. Though the person needing control may never admit it, by not following their advice it makes them feel powerless or insecure. It makes them question whether they were “right” with choices they’ve made. Do you get overwhelmingly angry or upset or hurt if someone doesn’t follow your advice? Do you feel the need to lash out or hurt them if they don’t listen? Do you feel your way is the only way and doing it any other way is vehemently wrong? If you resonate with these, I recommend you talk to a professional about your feelings and find healthy ways to address these feelings of powerlessness or insecurity you may have. They can also help you find ways to address this need to control. Your feelings are valid, but they may not be an accurate depiction of the world. Exerting dominance on your loved ones hurts them. It hurts your relationship with them.

There is not one “right” way to do things. There is not only one path a person can take. Someone can do things very differently from you and both of you still be correct. After all, 2 + 2 = 4, but 3 + 1 = 4 and 8 – 4 = 4 and so on and so forth. There are multiple ways to get to the same solution. There are multiple paths you can take to get to the same destination.

I have to admit that this quote is very personal for me. I have been in a situation where a person was severely controlling over my actions and words. Everything I did and said was held under scrutiny to the point where I questioned every action I took. To say my internal guidance system was inactivated seems too casual compared to how I felt. I felt like my intuition had been crushed into a thousand pieces and left to scatter in the wind. I had to admit that the relationship was unhealthy and I made the decision to leave. It was difficult, but I had to love myself enough to walk away. I’ll never forget the first time I sent an email after getting away from this person. I was a nervous wreck, questioning every word I wrote and every sentence I formed. When I realized how severely I was critiquing myself to write a basic three sentence email, I broke down. I had relinquished so much control that I had forgotten how to trust myself. I didn’t trust myself to write a simple email.

Now, I realize that this quote does hold true. My intuition wasn’t shattered, but it was deactivated. I have thankfully been able to reengage my internal guidance system. It was an interesting and long process that took hard work and blunt honesty, but it’s been worth it.

At the end of the day, this is your life. You have the opportunity to chose what you do with your life. Remember, doing nothing is still an active decision.

I have three quotes I’d like to share with y’all because I feel they all go together.

  • Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. – Matthew 22:39
  • If you judge them, you have no time to love them. – Mother Teresa
  • Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

I’m sure you can already see what my message is: love more and judge less. Simple enough, right?

I’m going to be asking multiple questions throughout my talk that I encourage you to answer in your mind.

How many of you apply the concept of love more and judge less to yourself? How many of you love yourself? How many of you are hard on yourself? How many of you would hesitate to raise your hand to answer a question because you’re afraid of what others will say or think about you? How many of you kept your hand down in school even when you knew the answer because you were afraid of what others thought? Or you were afraid of being wrong? How many of you fear what you think about yourself?

If you are so busy judging yourself, what time do you have to love yourself? I’m sure all of you have a mirror in your house. How many of you complement yourself? How many of you see how beautiful you truly are? Your wrinkles and greying hair show you are alive and getting older. Aging is a gift not guaranteed to anyone. How many of you celebrate you are alive? Your cellulite is beautiful. Your scars are beautiful. Your love handles are beautiful. Our idea of the perfect human body changes by the decade. Don’t let society convince you your body is anything less than an amazing miracle. Your body is a special combination of stardust that forms you. Your body is your friend who ensures that you make it as best as you can to the next day. Sure, we all get sick and, yes, disease exists. And yes, we all eventually die due to our body shutting down. But no one said your body is perfect. Your body is your friend. Love your body. Give yourself at least one complement every day. You’ll be astounded by the difference it makes.

How many of you celebrate your accomplishments? Do you acknowledge them with the same vigor you do your failures? Why not? When you fail, do you focus on berating yourself or improving yourself? Did you know that failure is your best teacher? When you fail, you have the opportunity to grow as a person if you focus on what you need to improve without condemning yourself for failing. Do you celebrate the fact that you tried? I have failed tests. I have played sports where I’d try to score a goal and miss. I’ve lost games. I’ve failed at businesses. I’ve failed in relationships. Each time, I had the opportunity to either grow from the failure or withdraw completely from the activity and never try again.

By writing this, I know there’s a huge chance I’ll mess this up. I may use the wrong words or give terrible examples. I could fail to get my message across. And that’s okay. I’m glad I tried. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be imperfect. Embrace the flaws. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t living. If you judge yourself, you have no time to love yourself.

So, why do I keep emphasizing self-love when the quotes I picked talk about loving others and not judging them? Because we don’t emphasize the important of self-love. Because if you don’t love yourself and have compassion for yourself, how can you truly love others?

I was someone who didn’t truly learn to love myself until a couple of years ago. From the time I was around 18, I pretended to love myself, but it wasn’t sincere. Now, I love myself, flaws and all. I’ve noticed with this self-love, I’ve developed a depth of love for others I had never experienced before. Does it mean I never loved anyone or that my love for others before wasn’t sincere? No. I loved to the best of my ability with what I had and that’s great. My capacity to love before was different. The level I could love was different. Before, my love was a puddle compared to the river it is now.

And even with my improvements, I’m fully aware that I still have more ways I can improve and develop as a person. I hope to one day be an ocean of love. I embrace my journey and the fact that I will always have room to grow all of my life. When I first realized I would never reach a final level of growth, it was daunting. Now, I view it as an important aspect of life. When you view growth as a cultivating experience (or in videogame terms “leveling up”), it makes it seem like a better experience than referring to it as “work.”

How many of you hesitate or won’t try certain things because you fear judgment? Do you regret not doing certain things? Do you regret not speaking out? Do you regret not raising your hand?

Well here’s something to keep in mind. Another reason I emphasize self-love is this: the people who judge you are also judging themselves. I feel the verse “do not judge or you too will be judged” has nothing to do with an outside force judging us. It’s a continuation of our judgment. We are judging ourselves so viciously that we, in turn, find others to judge so we can deem our situation “not that bad.”

“Well, sure, I’m addicted to caffeine, but John Doe is a heroin addict, so I’m not that bad.”

“I got a 46 on my exam, but Jane Doe got a 40, so I’m not that dumb.”

Do you see the pattern? Do you ever do that? I used to quite frequently.

If you fear judgment of others, you need to realize a few things:

  • People who love you won’t condemn you. They may talk about you, but everyone talks about everyone. I guarantee all of you talk about people. It’s nothing personal. Gossip is part of life.
  • People who judge you are like that with everyone, including themselves. It’s still nothing personal. They are trying to make themselves feel better. They are trying to cover their fears and insecurities by distracting themselves with others’ flaws and drama. Imagine being trapped in that kind of mindset and that kind of negativity ALL DAY. It’s not fun. Trust me. That was me for a couple of decades.

The people who judge you are suffering because they aren’t able to be bathed in self-love or love of others. Their judgment, their insecurities, their emotional baggage, and their childhood scars wrap their hearts up like a fortress. They subconsciously think holding these hurts and using them as barriers will protect them from ever experiencing pain again. Instead, all it does is prevent them from giving and receiving love to its full extent and power. Their fortresses and their protective layers are actually a self-made prison.

You could take it a step further and argue they’re unable to truly feel God’s love. Even if you aren’t religious (to be honest, I’m not), you could say they don’t feel how interconnected we all are. Whether we come from God or Stardust or both, we all come from the same source. We are all in this together. We are all connected. They don’t see this. They feel alone in a hostile and unforgiving world.

Life is a contact sport. It’s a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I have met and known many people who had terrible childhoods who still view the world as a loving place. It is possible to enjoy life no matter the circumstance. It isn’t always easy and, sometimes, you need pain so you can get moving to put yourself in a better position than you are now.

Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Soul pain is no different. It’s a way for the spirit to tell you something needs to be addressed. Pain isn’t the enemy. It’s our honest, blunt, to-the-point friend who is looking out for our well-being.

Another reason I talk about self-love is because if we truly love ourselves, we wouldn’t end up in some of the predicaments we do. We wouldn’t subject ourselves to the abuse we do. There are people who have toxic family and friends. They focus so much on honoring their parents that they forget to honor themselves by not subjecting themselves to abuse. Stressful environments make you sick. Stressful environments shorten your life. Period.

For me, if I had truly loved myself, I wouldn’t have entered a toxic relationship. Or, I would have left the relationship sooner than I did.

Imagine if our children were taught and practiced self-love. How many would succumb to peer pressure regarding drugs or sex or vandalism? How many would dodge unhealthy relationships and friendships? How many wouldn’t engage in violence or bullying? How many would be able to withstand bullying and stand up to bullies? How many would be more engaged in school because they are unashamed of learning?

For adults, how many would stand up to social injustices? How many would put more into spreading love and good deeds? How many would focus on spreading equality? How many would try to reunite our world and embrace our differences instead of trying to force everyone to be the same?

Self-love is not just some New Age concept. It’s a necessity for survival and for a better quality of life for everyone. To love yourself is to empower yourself. If you feel empowered and are filled to the brim with love, do you think you would have more to pass along to others?

So, how can we change these judgy people? Simple. You can’t. People will only change because they want to. You can, however, create a safe space for everyone in your life to grow and thrive. You can love them.

And you can love a person from a distance. If the relationship is toxic, don’t stay in it. Don’t subject yourself to pain for the sake of that person. You are not here to be their scapegoat. You are not here to be their punching bag. Separate from the toxic person. Offer love from a distance, but don’t engage. Offer forgiveness and compassion, but don’t interact.

How can you improve?

  1. Have compassion for others, including those who will never change. That’s their life path and their journey. It’s not meant to be the same as yours.
  2. Respect others and their differences.
  3. Tell yourself you love yourself. Say at least three nice things to yourself every day.
  4. Tell your pets, family, and friends you love them.
  5. Spend time with those who make you feel better.
  6. Laugh and spread laughter.
  7. Find books, YouTube videos, movies, and other things that inspire you and make you happy.
  8. Write, draw, paint, talk, or find a healthy way to release your pain.
  9. Volunteer or somehow get involved with groups in your community that promote compassion and respect for everyone regardless of their differences.
  10. Talk to people who are different than you. Read books about cultures and practices that are different from your own. The more you learn about others, the more you realize how much we are all the same. You’ll realize that the “us” versus “them” mentality is no more logical or healthy than the “me against the world” mentality.

You don’t have to use any of these ideas. They’re just practices that worked for me.

Be patient with yourself. My spiritual journey consciously started when I was 12. I’ve detoured multiple times. I’ve climbed Fool’s Hill more than once. There have been many times where I was a know-it-all, judgmental, condemning, mean, and unforgiving. There are times where I don’t treat people with love and compassion. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of times down the road where I’ll lapse again. That’s the way life goes.

I’m 30 and I didn’t feel like I had truly loved myself until I was 29 and, as I mentioned before, even with my improvements, I still continue to grow.

So, be patient and have compassion for yourself.

And, most importantly, love yourself.