Step Aside

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When I was younger, I was a fixer. I liked my life and the lives of the people I loved and cared about to be all good. In my mind, there was a solution for every problem. Those solutions were based in logic and practicality and the simple willingness to make the obvious resolution come to life. I was happy to share my strategies. If you needed a new job, apply for one. If you wanted to extend your education, fill out the application. If you wanted to see a new place on the map, get in the car and start driving. It was all very simple and very simplistic. I haven’t changed much over the years, but I do have a new perspective on my desire to remedy the tussles the world delivers to the doorsteps of those we care about.

I now know that, while we can have this overwhelming desire to mend the struggles those we love are suffering from by fixing, changing or remaking the situation, we cannot. Regardless of how many suggestions we make or the well-meaning advice we offer or the text messages and emoji’s we send, we cannot bring about someone else’s change and ultimate relief.

Even if we can clearly see the path which will set them moving in a direction that will bring respite, it isn’t our place to escort them there. The loss, suffering, sorrow, grief and regret are all present for two purposes: choice and growth, neither of which we have any control over. Instead, we are only there to witness and to hold supportive space for their decisions and to allow for those choices to germinate.

Holding space can be extremely difficult, particularly if you are as old as I am. My years have taught me a great many things that I wish to impart on those much younger than I, but I have learned not to do so. As young adults, the 20 and 30 something crowd has an unending confidence; they believe they have pulled it all together. They have had numerous graduations, first jobs, new homes and children of their own. Many successes.

Yet life is still filled with fears and struggles, despite the showings of adulthood. Our young have to repay those hefty student loans, the new jobs come with an unbearable co-worker, the homes require upkeep and the children do not sleep. Those of us who are in the beginning, middle or nearing the end of our third act of life know these are the character building years. The years that snap us to attention and teach us that being educated is an expensive privilege, our careers require endurance, our homes can drain us and our children demand greater personal sacrifices than we ever imagined.

As parents and confidents to those living inside of the building years, we tend to want to give over the wisdom of our hard earned lessons. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could spare those just slightly behind us in life’s cycle some of the stress and strain of continuing to grow up? But we cannot.

Instead, it is our job to allow the process to unfold without our interference and without our judgment. The only thing we can offer, if asked, is the wisdom we have gained from our own experiences and growth, delivered simply as facts from our past. After that, we must tap out.

When we step aside, we do a much greater service to those who are learning. We teach resilience, rather than rescue. We make room for contemplation, rather than creating someone else’s conditions. We permit independent decisions to be made after sleepless nights of careful consideration. We allow for ownership and change to come forth from the source of each soul. We give the gift of true, authentic, hard won core transformation that can only come from choice and error.

Today, step aside and hold space for someone else to create their change. Then be the first to applaud their success.

ShelliAuthor of Circles of the Soul, Marymichelle Lotano has explored the areas of personal growth, meditation and art. Ms. Lotano is currently a full time writer and mother, residing in Carlsbad, California. Visit:


One Response

  1. Bernice A. Murray

    May 17, 2018 10:02 am

    So true. Instead of on going advise it seems more profitable to step aside and let our loved ones grow up through their own failings.


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